THE NIGHT FASHION ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN

THE NIGHT FASHION ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN

In fashion, anything can happen. And something extraordinary happened in 1969 with fashion in Texas. Couture? A potential airline hijacking? High society? All ripped from the headlines, here, in an exciting excerpt from her book, Grace Jones Of Salado, native Austinite Mary-Margaret Quadlander shares the events of a spectacular Austin evening long ago.

 

Illustrations by Missy Harris

 

Photography courtesy of Mary-Margaret Quadlander, Betty Wiedeman, and Archival

 

RUNWAY READY

Over her forty-year reign as the Queen of Texas Fashion, Grace Jones would stage many of the top designer fashion shows at her iconic store, Grace Jones of Salado, or at a luncheon event, and on occasion, Grace and her husband, retired Lt. Col. and businessman Jack Jones, even hosted showings at their beautiful O’Neil Ford-designed home. In one memorable instance, she even presented a fashion show on a built-for-the-occasion runway in the outdoor field behind her store. And although there would be many runway shows that Grace Jones helmed in her inimitable style, there was one evening that topped all others, and it was definitely a night to remember.

 

In the late 1960s, most fashion shows were held in tea rooms, at luncheons, or one might even be invited to a famous designer’s own showroom, as we remember from films of the collections of Dior, Channel, Balenciaga, or Trigère fashion shows. The models would meander among the guests, giving customers the opportunity to view the fashions more closely. Very little attention was given to the models, as they were mainly viewed as mannequins, unlike today, when models are seen as celebrities. When the Jones’s held fashion shows in their home, as was de rigueur, the models would casually walk among the dinner guests, winding their way through the tables and conversations, attempting to get the attention of a buyer without being obtrusive. It was often uncomfortable for the models as well as the guests. After all, the whole point of the evening was to sell the collections. As a result, an idea occurred to Jones that using her own customers to model the newest collections would be a perfect way to get the attention of the audience, the husbands, as well as pay tribute and showcase her loyal customers.

 

In the spring of 1969 in Austin, Grace Jones was invited to be the main event for a night, hosting a fundraising fashion show to benefit The Mental Health Association of Austin and Travis County. Everyone who was anyone in the elite social and political circles of Texas was invited to the Austin Country Club on the evening of March 20, for a long-awaited fundraising extravaganza, An Evening With Jean Louis. Normally, an event this big would demand a larger arena, such as one in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Houston. Still, on this night, all of Texas high society were gathered in the Austin Country Club’s ballroom, excitedly waiting for the big evening to begin. It had been sold out for months in advance, even though the tickets were $200 per couple (about $2000 in 2022 dollars). The crowd would be top drawer with Governor and Mrs. Preston Smith, who would attend and be involved since Texas First Lady Ima Mae Smith was the honorary chair of the gala. The Governor chose a polka dot bow tie and polka-dot vest to complete his three-piece suit.  

 

Cactus Pryor, a well-known Native Austin son, television host, humorist, ultimate roaster, dinner speaker, and all-around perfect master of ceremonies, was enlisted to welcome the excited guests. And, although a night of laughs with Pryor could be enough to entice the Texas elite to come together for a night of fundraising, he was only there for the introduction…or so he thought. Grace Jones would provide the actual entertainment for the evening, presenting another one of her legendary fashion shows, on a runway built for the occasion. This time she was specifically featuring the latest collection of the well-known French designer, Jean Louis, of Hollywood.                         

 

Having Grace Jones, of Grace Jones of Salado, create the evening’s entertainment of fashion, not to mention seeing the newest collection from Jean Louis, was quite an honor for the Capital City because Louis had been a very important designer since the 1940s. By 1969, when this event occurred, he was a household name. In fact, the designer had been nominated for 14 OscarsÒ in the prior 14 years. He was also an early adopter of fashion sustainability, saying in a pre-event media interview that he believed women should dress according to their lives and wear their clothes for more than one season. Although the key to his success was the simplicity of his elegant gowns, making them as modern today as they were decades ago, his designs were, in fact, quite intricate. In his thirty-year film career during the Golden Age of Hollywood, he worked with some of the most beautiful actresses including Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Kim Novak, Gene Tierney, Marlene Dietrich, Loretta Young, and Marilyn Monroe. When Jones planned this fashion extravaganza, Louis was her obvious choice as the highlight of the evening.

SENSATIONALLY SAVVY STYLE

In the 1950s, in conjunction with films, Louis began designing costumes for television. Between 1953 and 1961, he created fifty-two dresses for Loretta Young to wear on her successful anthology series, The Loretta Young Show. Women would tune in each week just to see what new outfit Young was wearing at the beginning of every show, as she elegantly descended a staircase or swirled through a grand doorway. In the 1960s, Louis went out on his own as an independent designer developing his own line but was still pursued by his loyal clientele in Hollywood.

 

In 2016, Julien’s Auctions sold the Louis-designed gown Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy for $4.8 million. It was described as a champagne silk soufflé Illusion gown, with a gauze-like silk underpinning to hold the weight of more than six thousand glass beads and sequins. The jewels were so effervescent they appeared to be sewn onto her bare skin. Bob Mackie, well remembered for his design work on TV for stars like Cher and Carol Burnett, illustrated the gown and Jean Louis translated the drawing into his design and creation of Monroe’s beaded sheath. “That dress was designed around when Marilyn did her last movie at 20th Century Fox that was never released, Something’s Gotta Give,” shared Bob Mackie recently in a conversation about the designer. “Jean Louis was very exacting, He was a couture designer in his head, rather than a fashion designer. He could be very intimidating.”

 

Meanwhile, back in Texas, Grace Jones and Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus reigned alone as the king and queen of fashion icons. This spectacular fashion show focusing on Louis’s designs had taken months to prepare, like all of Jones’s shows. But this time, Jones planned for the fashion show to be the focal point of the evening. The models would not be gliding through the dinner and cocktail settings, as in her previous events. This time the models would be walking a runway, with background music and Jones’s descriptions of the garments, requiring the full attention of the audience. Finding suitable models (who would wear a size 6, the then-sample size in fashion), flying them in from New York   and Dallas for the fittings, designing the stage and lighting, and writing her speech…Jones was obsessive about this show, knowing that the audience was filled with many of her clientele from all over the state, including the Governor’s wife and wives of the entire Board of Regents for The University of Texas, Austin’s hometown university.

 

Once again, Jones would invite customers who had modeled for her previously to fill some of the places. In hiring professional models, Elsa Rosborough, model extraordinaire, was the first on her list to be called. Rosborough had a way of commanding the runway. The moment she hit the runway, she captivated the audience. She would spread her arms to their full wingspan, twirl herself on the stage to show the full detail of her garment, all the while landing each turn at the exact corner of the runway. Then, she would prance to the other end, never losing her penetrating eye contact with a particular audience member. Elsa Rosborough was not only a model, but she was also a performer.

 

Every society couple in the state of Texas was fighting to get a coveted table for the show. There were parties all week leading up to it, and Jones made her appearance at all of them, along with her Salado house guests, Jean Louis and his beautiful wife and a former model, Maggy Louis. This was a very grand event for Austin, a small college town (population 258,000 at the time), and the 400 attendees buzzed with excitement.

 

The evening before the gala, the Jones’s good friends, Dr. D.J. and Jane Sibley hosted a dinner party for the Louis’s at the Sibley’s newly acquired home, a grand Spanish-style mansion resting in grandeur in historic Old Enfield. Jane Sibley, a social force of her own, dedicating herself to philanthropic causes, such as the Texas Historic Preservation and the Austin Symphony Orchestra, had created a truly eclectic and personal homage to Asian, Native American, and Spanish art in her home. And, always easy to spot at any social event in Austin, she habitually wore her signature buzzard feather poised as an afterthought into her tightly coiffed chignon hairstyle. The Sibley’s home was the perfect backdrop for Jean and Maggy Louis to experience the unique cultural identity of Austin,           a town overflowing with intellectual pursuit, political debate, historical significance, and the ambiance of inherited social status.

FLYING HIGH

According to Grace Jones, during the dinner she received a call from Louis’s assistant, Doris Souza in Los Angeles, stating that the fashion collections had left the airport that morning and should be arriving at Austin’s Mueller Airport soon, leaving plenty of time for the transfer to Austin Country Club, where the festivities would occur. There was no need to worry because Jones had planned this event down to the last second. The evening at the Sibley’s was exactly the respite Jones needed from all the details of the upcoming fashion show. The shared evening was fabulous, with great food, sparkling conversation, and wonderful friends. No one thought twice about the imminent arrival of Louis’ fashions, valued at $100,000 (a little over $800,000 in 2022 dollars).

 

In the middle of their dinner, Jones received a second call…this time from her assistant in Austin, who was calling with some troubling news. The cargo had never arrived as planned. At 11:00 p.m., Jones received yet another call but this time, the caller was frantic. It was unbelievable and inconceivable…the collection was rumored to have been hijacked to Cuba. If it had been hijacked, there was no indication where in Cuba it might be heading. And there was certainly no chance of it landing in Austin in time for the show. This was the main event, and there was absolutely nothing to show. Nothing.

 

By midnight, Jones was quickly making one phone call after another, attempting to find the missing collection. But at 1:00 a.m., she surrendered to the inevitable reality that the collection was gone, and she had better start looking for a solution.

 

Grace Jones had been up against more formidable obstacles in her life, honestly, much more formidable with her background as a WWII pilot. True to her nature, she called upon her friends and clients, many of them famous, to help. Anyone who had ever bought Jean Louis collections from her or directly from Jean Louis was now receiving phone calls in the middle of the night. Loretta Young, an avid collector of Jean Louis, received the first call. It was now early morning in Los Angeles, and Young was still asleep. Jones left an urgent message with Young’s household staff, and Loretta immediately returned her call. Of course, she would help and shared, “If you need me, if this is an emergency, I’ll be there myself.”

 

But there were no direct flights from Los Angeles running then. So, Young hired her own private plane, and with gowns in hand, flew to Dallas, and then hired another plane to take her to Austin. Young then called Katherine Crosby, the Texas-born wife of Bing Crosby, who also owned an extensive collection of Jean Louis fashions. Even though Crosby and her family were preparing for a vacation trip to Mexico and could not attend, she would place the clothes on Bing’s private plane to arrive at 5:30 p.m., if Jones would agree to have someone pick them up. Yes. Yes. Thank you.

 

Gene Tierney, another famous Hollywood actress, married to Houston oilman Howard Lee, had a great wardrobe of Jean Louis dresses. Jones called her home in Houston to ask if she might loan some gowns for the fashion show since this was a true emergency. Ironically, Tierney and her husband, were in Austin visiting a relative, so she was more than happy to help and had some of her gowns driven in from Houston.

 

Grace Jones could finally take a breath of relief.

THE SHOW MUST GO ON

That evening, Cactus Pryor was finally informed of the fate of the collection. Could he possibly entertain the audience for longer than he had planned? He took the stage and did what he did best…regaling the audience with one hysterical story after another, giving Jones more time to re-group. The fashion show was rearranged to occur after dinner instead of before.

 

By now, Pryor had easily been holding his own as the event’s master of ceremonies for over two hours. It was now eight o’clock, and there was no sign of the fashion show. At nine o’clock, Cactus sneaked behind the curtain and quickly returned to the stage. “The bar is open!” Pryor called loudly to the audience and then settled into his most comfortable element, telling one hilarious joke after the other. By midnight the audience was happily smashed, but not one person had left, enjoying Cactus but still in anticipation of the evening’s centerpiece event. Suddenly, the lights in the room went dim, and the audience drunkenly returned to their tables, still laughing uproariously at Pryor.

 

A spotlight hit the stage, and out walked Grace Jones, who was about to make caviar out of a bad situation and give her audience a night to remember. She and Young had both been backstage preparing the models. Young herself accessorized the models wearing her clothes, styling them as she would wear the gowns.

 

That night, Jones presented an unimaginable and unforgettable runway show featuring the stunning, albeit acquired, designs of Jean Louis, all worn by Jones’s outstanding models, and loyal clients. How could anyone in the audience complain? But the evening was not over yet…by far. Suddenly, Loretta Young walked out from behind the curtain and walked the runway wearing her own Jean Louis gown. As she approached the staircase up to the higher stage, Jean Louis himself offered his arm and escorted her to the top of the stairs as the room broke out in thunderous surprise and applause. The standing-room-only audience rose to their feet in a roar of appreciation that lasted a full five minutes.

 

For the next forty years, there would be many other world-renowned designers personally showing their collections to Grace Jones’s customers at her salon in Salado, such as Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Pauline Trigère, Norman Norell, Galanos, Valentino, Oscar  de la Renta, Perris, Adolfo, Christian Lacroix, Dior, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Vollbracht, Adolfo, and Count Sarmi, to name a few. But there would never be another night that ever compared to this night in Austin, conceived by fashion legend Grace Jones, featuring Loretta Young and Jean Louis.

 

Toward the very end of the evening, Cactus Pryor came back on stage for the live auction of a bright silk organza plaid gown with a tucked bodice and high green sash. The bidding was spirited as Gary Morrison won the gown for his wife, plus a Jean Louis men’s suit, for $1,100 (about $9,000 in 2022 dollars). Jean Louis, unruffled backstage through it all, commented in his French accent soon after the event ended, “Texas women are wonderful. I’ve never known people to rise to a challenge and an emergency so well.”

 

As luck would have it, the dresses were indeed found, and after the event ended at midnight, the gowns arrived in their boxes, securely unopened, at 12:30 a.m. The high fashion fun would continue since the Grace Jones of Salado patrons were the first Texans to see the complete summer collection upon its arrival over the next few days at her store. And, as fate would have it, fast forward to 1993, and octogenarians Loretta Young and Jean Louis would marry each other to form a very stylish couple for the rest of their lives.  

 

For more information on the book, Grace Jones of Salado, visit GraceJonesOfSalado.com.

OOH, LA L.A. LOUVRE

OOH, LA L.A. LOUVRE

When Houstonian Becca Cason Thrash hosts an event, it is a happening. On par with few other galas in the world, the lady raised in Harlingen, Texas continues to raise the bar for not only herself, but also for other international organizations like the Musée du Louvre, who has benefitted from her latest largesse. Join us in this exclusive look at the party of the decade in Los Angeles, according to our very own social chronicler, Lance Avery Morgan.

 

Photography by Linda Posnick

ENTRE NOUS

The halo of a crisp, late spring evening in Los Angeles, with its bright blue satiny sky, hovered over the festivities like a sparkling jeweled tiara with freshly cut gems placed into it. The occasion? Another Becca Cason Thrash extravaganza, of course. The Texas-based philanthropist has a nearly perfect record of creating successful events. However, this was unlike any Thrash Bash before it.

 

No stranger to rolling up her shirtsleeves to help a cause she believes in, Thrash received the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 2011 for her philanthropic talents at home and abroad in France…and certainly for her tireless fundraising for the Musée du Louvre. Also, her ongoing championing of Franco-American relations continues to support the Louvre and Notre-Dame de Pâris organizations. So, based on her experiences, she knows a thing, or more like it, several thousand things, about the nuisances of both France and fundraising.

 

The events Thrash has created in the past is a roster of hundreds of philanthropic causes far too long to list, yet they include a range from Best Buddies, on which she serves as a board member, to the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston, and more. Although those amply fill her fundraising dossier in Houston, in the late 2000s, she took her show on the road to Europe with the first Musée du Louvre event in Paris in 2007, when she was invited by then Louvre director Henri Loyrette to chair the first-ever fundraising gala for the Louvre…in the Louvre. That was followed by other substantial Louvre galas that she also helmed again in Paris, then Venice, and Palm Beach. Whether hosting an event in her Houston home, or in monumental internationally known venues, her events attract hundreds of guests who arrive to support five-star cultural institutions with every intention to also have fun. Her fundraising, in her and her husband John Thrash’s estimation, is likely well north of $110 million (so far and counting) …and that might well be a conservative assessment.

 

“Becca is the ultimate fun-lanthropist,” muses international style setter Cameron Silver who attended the recent festivities. “She is so passionate about supporting the world’s cultural institutions. The Louvre needs international support and Becca is so successful at raising funds from every corner of the planet. I have nearly twenty-five years of attending events hosted by her…from Paris to Houston to Los Angeles. When an invite comes from Becca, it is a guarantee of a memorable evening because she works her butt off as if she’s producing a 150-million-dollar action film. Truthfully, Becca is a super heroine.” 

 

CHERCHEZ LA FEMME 

Much like the Pied Piper, those who follow her lead to offering their support, comprise today’s current roster of Jet-Set names from Europe, Mexico, and throughout the U.S. When Thrash throws a party, people show up to support her and her causes. Her latest wildly successful venture had her taking the show stateside, this time to the City of Angels, where fundraising is a true sport. With a geyser of sociable names, all dressed to the nines, the three-day Los Angeles affair, La L.A. Louvre, consisted of private art collection visits, luncheons, and parties, each captivating those who would attend this latest incarnation to raise money to restore the Roman galleries in the Louvre. Thrash, in her usual accomplishment-driven manner, approached the event with confidence. Confident she would wow her guests with artful tours and tons of fun…and, all the while, raise boatloads of money for a cause so near to her heart.

 

Beyond relationships, the simple fact of the matter is Thrash’s hard work began well over a year ago to create this event. With the pandemic waning last November, I caught up with Thrash in L.A. to attend Houston’s Sir Mark Haukohl’s seated dinner party at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art honoring his photography collection exhibit. Thrash was also in town and up to her swan-like neck in arranging significant private art tours of some of the most important collections in the world that just also happened to be in the Los Angeles area.

 

The event, originally scheduled for mid-March, shifted to May, in hopes the pandemic would subside more, which it did. The pandemic also posed logistical problems and therefore, some collections were not able to be viewed because of the restrictions the city had imposed for over two years. “There is no city in the country with a more vibrant art scene, and architecturally iconic homes, than Los Angeles,” confides Becca Cason Thrash. “So, I dove into LA and began by contacting friends who had great homes, fabulous collections, or both. Asking if I could bring a hundred strangers in to see their private spaces was a different story. In the end, 14 said yes…with two I couldn’t get to budge.”

 

Thrash’s attention to the platinum-level event creation had been in the works for over six months by the time she arrived in Los Angeles in early May to oversee the happening of the festivities. “The Covid restrictions and mask mandates were still an issue, which affected the guest list quite a bit, but we got around those by May,” shared Thrash. “With the date being postponed to May, American graduations and European art fairs prevented several guests from attending. I was heartbroken but there is never a perfect date for everyone. Gratefully their contributions helped us raise over two million dollars.”

 

The dozens and dozens of hands-on meetings with Houston’s Richard Flowers, of The Events Company, and his team, as well as vendors in Los Angeles, was the only way the event could flawlessly occur. Whether the event is in the Louvre in Paris, or in a tent on the grounds of a historic Los Angeles estate, Thrash is 100% in. For the seasoned fundraising veteran, the challenge becomes…what next? As with this gala in L.A., anyone in the serious world of fundraising knows of Thrash’s abilities to lead the way in bringing serious money to organizations. The LA L.A. Louvre happened only due to the sponsorships of John and Becca Cason Thrash, Sotheby’s Fine Art and Auction, and fine jewelers Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Kip Forbes, David Yurman, Tiffany & Co., and Bulgari. The wines and champagnes were provided by LVMH, as well as Kastra Elion vodka, and Casa Dragones Joven tequila for additional libations.  

 

Vibrant and full of stories about each guest she hand-picks to attend, Thrash is a captivating international hostess who is pretty peerless these days. Her style, charmingly precise and over-the-top at the same time, is in the mold of the great hostesses of the past like Pamela Harriman, Marella Agnelli, Babe Paley, or, on a more Texas playing field of yore, Martha Hyder and Baroness di Portanova. Few, if any, compare to her today. “When hosting an event, you really have to curate your guest list,” admits Thrash. “You want chic, like-minded people but need the occasional, or unexpected, controversial guest. That’s what stirs it up and keeps it from feeling like a night at the club. I am so fortunate to have cultivated so many friendships through the years from all over the world and that I can extend these opportunities to them.”

MISE EN SCÈNE

Thrash’s essence, like her hair, also now in the shade of pandemic platinum, has captivated a room with flair and finesse for decades, as she flawlessly sets the stage for every event. Philanthropy, at the highest level, takes ingenuity and brains, both of which Thrash has plenty. It was her goal that the Paris-meets-Los Angeles’ 72-hour whirlwind, a three day experience of private art collections, luncheons, dinners, and a gala offered guests something smart, exclusive and unique.

 

The private collection visits offered to the fortunate guests were some of the most important private collections in the world. It began with film and television producer Michael Phillips’ Asian art collection, T.V. show creator Darren Star’s art-filled collection at his Beverly Hills home, philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick’s collection at their Beverly Hills estate, real estate developer James Goldstein’s collection housed in his mid-century masterpiece, John Lautner-designed Beverly Hills home, prolific gallery owner and collector Larry Gagosian’s Holmby Hills home, the home and private art museum of entertainment executive Steve Tisch, the art foundation of Frederick R. Weisman in Bel Air, as well as opportunities to see the latest exhibits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Museum, and the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

 

“There isn’t anyone who knows how to create memorable experiences the way Becca does,” shared Dallasite entertaining guru Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. “When her name is on an invitation, it is guaranteed to be filled with friends and fun and is sure to be a night you will remember. The LA L.A. Louvre event introduced us to private corners of Los Angeles that we often drive past and don’t even know. It was incredible treat to get to go inside their homes and see their collections with other art enthusiasts and hear the stories of the collectors and their remarkable collections.”

 

The event hosts included entrepreneur Ronnie Haft, with his husband Andrew Nagel, who had a welcome cocktail party at their Beverly Hills Forever home on Tuesday evening. Real estate developer Richard Weintraub, and his wife Liane, hosted the Malibu brunch on Wednesday in their historic, 1921 five-story beach front home, Villa Tramonto, while contemporary art collector and Jumex Collection owner Eugenio Lopez hosted a glorious al fresco seated dinner in his art-filled Beverly Hills home on Wednesday evening. In Lopez’s estate, one was as likely to see a Basquiat, Donald Judd, Cy Twombly, or a Warhol Brillo box, as an incredible Jeff Koons poolside sculpture among the other treasures that were feasts for the guest’s eyes.

 

The coup de grâce was Thursday evening’s culmination of the tremendous effort, a seated dinner for over 250 at the home of Colleen and Bradley Bell, high above the City of Angels in Holmby Hills. Longtime friends of Thrash through their mutual support of Anthony Kennedy Shriver’s Best Buddies organization, she’s the former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and a T.V. producer, and he’s a seasoned television executive who has won over 20 Daytime EmmyÓ Awards. Their home, formerly the residence of Rod Stewart, and before that, Gregory Peck, served as the perfect backdrop for the Le Grand Nuit.

 

LA VIE EST BELLE

Many of the guests upon arrival at the Bell’s estate, entered the Mediterranean-style villa and were captivated by the impressive contemporary and classic art collection the Bells have assembled. Friendly, charming, and outgoing, the Bells are the perfect hosts for this kind of event. Never one to miss an opportunity to incorporate the French theme, a rendition of The Ritz Paris’ Hemingway Bar was recreated in the oak-paneled library of the residence. “The Bells are such lovely people, and their home was perfect for this event. The Hotel Ritz barkeep Colin Fields, who was flown in to create the pop-up, lost his mind when he saw the facsimile,” noted Thrash. As the Old Fashioned, Martini and signature Serendipity (nicknamed France in a glass) cocktails flowed, so did the guests who greeted longtime friends and eagerly made new ones.

 

In fact, as the event spilled onto the estate, with a magnificent view of the city, guests were so entranced by each other that dinner was served over an hour later than planned. After all, it isn’t always easy gathering guests to be seated. The gigantic tent was festooned with vibrantly pink lighting. With an abundance of one-story high greenery perched on the tables, it was the perfect counterbalance to the fuchsia pink carpet. Much of decorative elements and rentals were driven directly from Houston to Los Angeles. “We incorporated the natural beauty of Southern California with palms, elephant ear leaves and banana trees to add to the gradations of green,” offered Thrash. “The chandeliers dripped in long, cascading ivy, while the shapes of the plants were projected onto the ceiling, adding to the tropical theme.”

 

Creative, sublime, yet extremely elegant was Thrash’s goal in creating the décor. Never one to miss an opportunity, Becca Cason Thrash’s dress of glittering olive green sequins, designed by her close friend, designer-to-the-stars Naaem Khan, who also attended, matched the environment perfectly. “I find inspiration everywhere in creating a gala’s theme. Naaem sent me the dress he designed for me, and we built the evening around that,” revealed Thrash.

 

The synergy between the olive beaded gown and her pink kunzite and diamond jewels that punctuated the green and pink theme wasn’t lost on anyone. “It was so appropriate that Becca’s Naeem Khan gown had a cape attached,” shares Austinite philanthropist Carla McDonald. “She is a philanthropic superhero, and her superpower is bringing the world’s most interesting people together to advance the work of the world’s most important organizations.”

 

Guests raved over the entirely green table palette, highlighted with Yves Klein French blue tableware accents, that graced the silk table coverings on the many Continental and square tables, as guests were perched on green Chiavari chairs. In fact, every place setting was a feast for the eyes, and shortly thereafter, the cuisine palette. Guests dined on elegant French fare of filet mignon, asparagus in a light Bearnaise sauce, as well as pears in Champagne with crème fraiche. To pair with the meal, bottle upon bottle of Baron de Rothschild Champagne’s Chateau de Meusault 2016 and Le Petit Haut Lafitte 2015 were poured. For après dinner, Casa Dragones Joeven sipping tequila, Kastra Elion expresso martinis, and an array of French chocolates was served.

 

While dining, and as the evening progressed, the live auction, deftly helmed by Michael Macauley of Sotheby’s Fine Art and Auction, raised the pulse of the evening even more. As Becca Cason Thrash shared a few moving words about the importance of fundraising for the cause, with a video greeting by the Louvre President Laurence des Cars, the auction was off to a flying start. Some of the artists who donated works and who also attended the event were Chris Levine of London, California-based artist James Verbicky, Niki Haas of the Haas Brothers duo who grew up in Austin, to name a few. The Impressionist collector Lionel Sauvage (and longtime Louvre’s International Friends’ board member) was spotted huddling with the current American Friends Of The Louvre board chairman, Kip Forbes of New York (Becca Cason Thrash serves as the vice-chairman), while collector Mary Ellen Marziale flew in from Italy for the gala and was accompanied by her actor/director son, Antonio Marziale. 

 

The bevy of guests who attended the event also included Michael Chow, founder of Mr. Chow restaurants, who bought the custom Tiffany watch for $85,000 at the auction, and Former Ambassador to Great Britain, the Honorable Robert Tuttle and his wife, Maria. Since the event occurred in Los Angeles, some local star power added to the guest list including Jacqueline Bisset, Chris O’Donnell, Jennifer Tilley, a few Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast members, producer Mark Burnett and his actor wife, Roma Downey, to name a few. Paris was also well represented with Parisian residents Ina Giscard d’Estaing (her father-in-law was Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the former President of France), Baroness Rose Anne de Pampelonne,  Ritz Paris Director Mark Raffray, Fabrice Pasqual of Air France, and Parisian Lucas Somoza, among many other dear Paris-based friends of Thrash’s. The creative clout of the guests included designers like Juicy Couture co-founder Gela Taylor, and Monique Lhullier. Many other notables comprised of investor Francois Schramek, German technologist Patrick Hessler, philanthropists such as Sydney Holland, Carolyn Powers, and Orange County-based Elizabeth Segerstrom.

 

In fact, philanthropists Gregory Annenberg Weingarten and his wife, Regina, were overheard marveling about the vast turnout and enthusiastic support from so many Texans, too. The laundry list of Thrash’s Texas fans and supporters who would show up to support her for anything, anywhere would be too long to list here, yet we were all there. “Most were eager to show up to make a contribution to the event by doing their part: looking as glamorous as possible, donning fashionable new ensembles and jewels, and bringing their irreplaceable Texas exuberance by bidding vigorously…and to show the international guests how to let their hair down.” laughed Thrash.

COUP DE GRÂCE

As with previous Louvre galas, the dinner and auction ended, and with the attendees ready for more action, Sinatra-esque singer Chris North took to the stage in a white dinner jacket, ready to rumble with the crowd. “He tore the ceiling off the roof with his 35-minute, non-stop set of mega superstar hits of the last 50 years,” enthused Thrash, who was referred to North’s talents by their mutual pal, event producer Colin Cowie. “Chris had the guests dancing on their seats and in the aisles. It was a fabulous, high-octane performance that left people begging for more.”

 

“The events hosted by Becca Cason Thrash are legendary, as I have read about them in BrilliantThe Society Diaries, and Society Texas for years,” confided Texan-turned-Angeleno Natalie Bond Bloomingdale. “How cool that my first party to attend helmed by Becca was in Los Angeles, and for such a wonderful cause. It was a meticulously orchestrated, very well-planned, with a well-organized itinerary, and incredible access to the best private art collections Los Angeles has to offer. Her grand vision was beautifully executed, and I am hopeful the funds raised will do a great deal for the restoration of the Roman Galleries at The Louvre.

 

With the evening raising over a whopping two million dollars, we will all have to stay tuned to learn of Thrash’s next fundraising adventures…here and across the globe. “I have been contacted by so many wonderful organizations,” confides Thrash. “I’ll probably take on an entirely different project next, so stay tuned.”

AROUND THE WORLD

AROUND THE WORLD

The Order Of The Alamo Hosts The Court Of The Grand Tour Coronation

 

By Jake Gaines         Photography by Katie Clementson, Billo Smith Photography

With a much anticipated and celebratory return to San Antonio’s beloved Fiesta events and traditions, The Order of the Alamo presented an elegant coronation of its Queen and her court, The Court of the Grand Tourin a dazzling ceremony staged at the enchanting Majestic TheaterThis year’s theme transported spectators on an epic visual adventure that paid homage to the historic Grand Tour tradition of 18th and 19th century Europe. 

A rite of passage for aristocratic young men and women of England, those who embarked on a Grand Tour after their graduation would ride luxury carriages throughout Europe for three to four years on a journey to further their cultural education. The Court of the Grand Tour‘s gown and train designs were inspired by extensive research and honored several cities of the Grand Tour, as well as iconic architecture and crafts from each stop—from the Alhambra of Granada, Spain and the watches of Geneva, Switzerland to Londons Westminster Abbey and Italys famed glassmakers. 

The Mistress of the Robes, Alicia Brusenhan, worked tirelessly alongside dressmakers to bring the elaborate vision to fruition. Under Brusenhan’s leadership, the creative team began designing the courts 26 Queen, Princess, and Duchess dresses and robes for many months before the coronation ceremony. The Court Artists were Lisa Hanson and Francie Calgaard. 

 

The Queen of The Court of the Grand Tour was Ian Parker Brusenhan, the Mistress of the Robes’ daughter, and was attended by Princess Marguerite Holton Stewart and 24 duchesses from San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and beyond. The 2022 President of the Order of the Alamo was R. Webb Sellers, Jr. The Coronation Chairman was Barclay Houston, while Brett Balthrope served as Lord High Chamberlain. 

THE BOLD STANDARD

THE BOLD STANDARD

In the scenario of life imitating art, we are excited to present a fresh look at today’s vibrant art and jewelry scene. The artisans who create, from contemporary to classics, on canvas, metal and stones, are all individualistic. Our Society Texas editorial team is pleased to present an array of the most inspiring works to stir your own imagination of collecting and creating.

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE VILLA

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE VILLA

Anything goes this season with an abundance of trends. Our fashionable ingénue is indeed the madcap heiress who loves to take her show on the road to the South of France. Who wouldn’t? From florals to bold graphics, and everything in between, you can wear your chic style impulses to suit any mood… just don’t be late for the cocktail hour.

 

Photography by Mark Oberlin   Styling by Dion “Bleu” Drake

 

Hair by René Cortez using Love & Snow, Color Wow Hair, and IGK hair

 

Make-up by Christopher Miles using Smashbox, Beautyblender, and Made by Mitchell

 

Model: Rocio Vidal with STATE Mgmt. Los Angeles

 

Assistant Stylist: Eleanora Morrison

 

Sittings Producer: Lance Avery Morgan

MAJESTIC & MYSTERIOUS

MAJESTIC & MYSTERIOUS

With winter comes a renewed sense of strength. A crystal-clear vision to reckon the past and determine a new future is yours to create. Enlivened by the most ethereal styles seen in quite a while, we think it will be a gorgeous early frost of fashion. Ice, Ice Baby indeed.

 

Photography by Mark Oberlin Styling by Dion “Bleu” Drake

Hair by René Cortez using Love & Snow, Color Wow Hair, IGK hair, Denman brush, Dyson Hair, Y.S. Park, Mermade Hair, Hot Tools and Virtue Labs

Makeup by Christopher Miles using Omorovicza and Make Up For Ever

Model: Mercedes Enriqueta with State Management, Los Angeles

Styling Assistant: Eleanora Morrison

Sittings Producer: Lance Avery Morgan