Our editorial team, truly high culture curators, has worked all of 2021 to bring you this ravishing list of inspiring gift ideas that we think are some of the finest selections you can choose to help make 2022 ahead the very best year ever.


Part of the Wyatt collection of tableware and bar tools, Ralph Lauren’s guest-ready tea set is crafted from stainless steel and finished with equestrian-inspired saddle leather accents. Shine brightly as you entertain. $250. At


Pure happiness exudes from this fanciful, divine, dusty pink creation in this Rembrandt Dress by Greta Constantine. Floral adornments cascade down the side of the A-line gown, while a silk-wool tie at the neckline can be tied in delightfully numerous ways. Exclusively at The SIL, founded by Texas native Natalie Bond Bloomingdale. Made to order. $1,895. At


Nothing says personal style like a newly discovered vintage handbag. Mid-century Texan Enid Collins, founder of Collins of Texas, designed the most charmingly jeweled treasures that we think are ripe to be re-discovered and worn with state pride. From $100. At various auction and shopping sites.


Why not give the gift of pure luxury with this Frette Chains Throw? Made of Italian-made virgin wool,  it is not only cozy but also adds a chic element to any room. Available in seven colors. $1,575. At


How can anyone resist this DIY Frank Lloyd Wright model building kit of the Guggenheim Museum? By Brand Little Building Company, it’s a high-fidelity architectural element that will look like it came from the master’s studio. $98. At


Instead of sending a fruit basket for a special occasion, try a personalized gift like this that is sure to be a hit. We recommend sending a charcuterie in the form of an initial, or perhaps a number if it’s a birthday. From $56. At


Take the guesswork out of your next dinner party or gala with the Astor Hostess Seating Chart, an indispensable tool for any entertainer who likes to make sure they host a successful event.. $550. At


Imagine the most perfect candle ever created…for you and your environment. Social-Lite Candles are the hit of the season–as gifts to loved ones…and yourself. The 100% soy candles come in four delectable scents, Make Mine Champagne, My Secret Past, Isn’t It Right, and Set To Jet, and come wrapped in gorgeous gift boxes:. $58 each. At


When you and seven of your best friends climb that mighty mountain, here’s where you should stay. The super tough 2-Meter Dome eight-person tent is purpose-built to help you thrive in merciless environments like the Himalayas and Antarctica. $5,500. At


The perfect way to spend a winter evening? We think a puzzle is the ideal option, especially when it is so artful and worthy to hang upon completion. This one shown, Wet Kiss by Marilyn Minter, is a favorite. $100. At


Nothing says the perfect host gift, or let’s have a breezy cocktail, more than a hand-crafted linen napkin by August Morgan, founded by Austinite Kate Hersch. The colorful and creative squares are not only a conversation starter, but also are so handy to have nearby. In dozens of catchy quips, we love them all. $44 for a set of 4. At


This is so cool you won’t want to relegate it to the basement. This Playing Court printed, wall-mountable mini ping pong table is perfect for hours of family fun, don’t you think? $1,470. At


Turn any favorite room into your own Studio 54-esque nightclub playground with this Kicko multi-colored LED revolving strobe light ball. You’ll surely impress your kids, as well as dazzle the neighbors. $29.99. At


The perfect, and we mean perfect, signature gift basket is from Fortnam & Mason in London. With an array of both the exotic and familiar, their famous hampers are chock full of bliss. We love most the hamper for four since it can make any al fresco occasion special. $722. At


The ultimate host gift is something beautiful and unique, such as a stunning Maison Bijoux box. Beautifully hand-made with shell inlay and brass cladding. They are topped with agate slices and are truly like gems to behold. $240. At 


Experts know that a beverage can taste better when served in a fine glass. No argument here since we think the Margot decanter and Dearborn glass set is the elbows up favorite for sumptuous cocktails. $800. At


Since entertaining will be back in force once again, wouldn’t you like to note those special times ahead? The Entertaining Journal is the perfect way–with plenty of room for menus, guest lists, outfits worn, and so many more details to savor. $125. At


Decorative pillows are the jewelry of any well-appointed room. Why not have vibrant, hand-crafted pillows to highlight your gorgeous space? Austinite Deborah Main offers a variety of vintage and rare fabrics, as well as new textiles to put a punctuation point in any room to make it feel even more couture. Custom orders available. From $384. At


Chocolate is always the perfect gift. The thoughtful and delightful creations by Austin-based Delysia Chocolates have put smiles on many faces by now. Clever as ever, look for more themed truffle boxes in 2022, such as this one, Taste of the South. $34.95. At


How about a suite of gifts from designer and luxe retailer Jonathan Adler? Bright, happy, and always colorfully graphic, we recommend the Maxime star coasters ($68), Arcade lacquer tray ($295), the Gilded lollipop holder ($148), and the Arcade lacquer boxes (From $98) and so much more. At


Thanks to the success of The Queen’s Gambit, chess is the hottest strategic pursuit these days, so why not choose this over-the-top set that is crafted of solid mahogany and is also an instant heirloom, too? $7,700. At


This adorable cow earpods case also clips on to a bag as a novel accessory. We’re always misplacing ours, so why not have a Texas-themed festive reminder so they stand out? $610. At


You’ll be mountain royalty as you whisk by in this colorful Burton Deep Thinker Snow Board 2022. It powers through fresh powder and chops like a boss yet holds a clean edge on firmer surfaces. In short, it’s an all-round ripper of a board for the high energy rider. $599. At


Hop back in time when instant photos took 60 seconds with this cool Polaroid camera that is a special Saint Laurent edition. With its reflex lens, the photos promise to be clear and concise like never before. $1230. At


Getting away from it all now has a new meaning. Be the cool kid who can be mobile in style in this Airstream 20X travel trailer. It’s self-contained with all you’d need to have for a spontaneous road trip. Starts at $48,900. At


This Jenga-esque tumble tower is so cool and colorful that you’ll want to always keep this dyed 45 wood block sculpture in full view. Perfect for indoors or outside fun. $110. At


Any exotic locale is just a jet ride away. So, be inspired every day for your next getaway with a limited-edition image by Italian photographer Massimo Vitali. It’s sure to set off any room. Prices vary. At


For the child who has everything, the Malle Maison Vivienne on-the-go doll house was designed as a collection piece. Iconic Louis Vuitton Courrier Lozine and Wardrobe trunks were identically reproduced in miniaturism to highlight Louis Vuitton craftmanship. $63,500. At



Many prominent Texans have found their fortune in Hollywood, both on-screen and off. Enter Travis Banton of Waco, who set the silver screen ablaze with his costume design talents when movies glamorously reflected our nation’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations during the Golden Age of Hollywood, according to our fashion arbiter, Lance Avery Morgan.

Photography courtesy of Archival


Imagine this: you were born in Waco, and you find yourself entering the hallowed gates of Paramount Pictures in 1924 to design for some of the Golden Age of Hollywood’s greatest stars of the era. The talented Texan, Travis Banton, would be one of the most sparkling things to come from Waco, beyond Dr. Pepper, by becoming one of the most legendary designers in Tinseltown’s heyday. Influences of his work can be seen in Netflix series Hollywood, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and around-the-clock class films on Turner Classic Movies.


Banton had arrived at the fabled studio armed with a coterie of both learned and practical experience, drive, taste, and an immeasurable amount of talent. Plus, an Ivy League education from Columbia University. He’d designed for the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway and also created Mary Pickford’s wedding gown that created an international stir at the time. From there, it was onto scaling the heights of the wildly competitive City of Angels.

At the time when sound pictures came into wide acceptance in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Banton rode to the rescue of many a director by making loud costumes…well, quiet. Or, at least, quieter. Ever the pro, he used crepe, satin, and silk chiffon, since the previously used taffeta and stiff moiré silk were literally too noisy for the new medium’s finicky microphones. With sound as a major technical issue, Cary Grant was hired on the spot from his screen test at Paramount…because he not only filled out a tuxedo nicely, but also  could walk across the room keeping an iced-filled cocktail noiselessly steady. That’s showbiz, kids. 


By 1929, Banton was chief designer at Paramount, a role he would fulfill until 1938, and where he would become well-known for supplying The Paramount Look of sophistication. His success can be partly attributed to the masses of movie fans who saw his creations. In 1930, an average of 80 million viewers attended movies every week in the United States. The population at the time was 123 million, so well over half of Americans made it a ritual to visit their local dream palaces weekly to see their favorite stars.


In that pivotal style decade of the 1930s, Banton’s impact was felt from Hollywood Boulevard to Main Streets across the country and beyond, and even around the globe, thanks to the hunger for American films in lands abroad. He designed for the studio’s biggest box office stars, movie goddesses Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Anna May Wong, and Mae West, to name a few. Banton’s epitome of elegance appears in the designs for Dietrich’s renowned vehicles, such as The Scarlet Empress (1934) and Angel (1937). For the latter film, it’s reported that Banton’s staff labored for weeks on one hand-sewn garment that was an opulent Fabergé-inspired gown of chiffon lavished with beading and bordered with Russian sable at a reported cost of $8,000 (about $150,000 in 2021 dollars).


To offset Dietrich’s conservative acting style, Banton loaded on feathers, sparkling beads, and lush furs for her over-the-top costuming so she would dominate any scene over her co-stars, even with scene-stealers like Gary Cooper and Cesar Romero. These stunning creations were magnetic to not only the camera, but also to the silver screen. They exuded strength, sexiness, and style that fans hungered to see. Dietrich, always the consummate professional when it came to her personal publicity, was a strictly self-disciplined actress and Paramount star. She reportedly had no problem standing for fittings in her wardrobe-dependent films for at least 120 hours per film. It was a creative match made in heaven for both designer and his movie star muse. They also gave the world a sexy, tailored trouser suit that still resonates today with fashionistas. Of all the stars, Carole Lombard (whose life tragically ended in a plane crash in 1942 while selling war bonds) was his most prolific muse since she also hired him to dress her off-screen. Her long, languid figure was ideal for the bias-cut dresses that especially flattered her, a Banton specialty. In fact, his designs were so loved by Carole Lombard that she demanded he design her costumes for My Man Godfrey and Love Before Breakfast (1936), Nothing Sacred (1937), and Fools for Scandal (1938), which were made by other studios, beyond Paramount Pictures. Now that is star power at its zenith, and his work with both Lombard and Dietrich is still referenced by today’s leading designers.


Life on the lot wasn’t always rosy with his clients, nor was every movie star a dream costume collaboration. One studio crisis that Banton recalled required studio chief Adolph Zukor to negotiate a feud brought on by Claudette Colbert, a longtime Banton admirer, and his costuming for Cleopatra. After rejecting two sets of costume sketches for the picture, she supposedly streaked Banton’s third set of beautifully painted drawings with blood deliberately drawn from her finger to emphasize her displeasure.

Legendary costume designer Bob Mackie felt otherwise about Banton and Colbert’s teaming. ”I recall seeing a revival showing of the pre-code Cleopatra (1934) at a theater in Englewood (Los Angeles) at the age of 14. I was in awe and mesmerized by the costumes. So, I thought to myself, ‘one day I’ll remember all these clothes.’” He continued, “Little did I know that I’d be designing similar sorts of beaded numbers for Cher on The Sonny & Cher Show in the 70s. They were so scant and skin-baring that I recall it being an issue with the CBS censors at the time.” It was an example of how Banton’s creative legacy would carry on. Another conflict involved a fitting with Banton and an ungrateful actress of the era, Nancy Carroll, who ripped a beaded garment from her body while Banton and his staff stared in disbelief. Sometimes, there’s just no pleasing a client, as any designer can attest.


While Banton designed costumes for many of the gorgeous icons still remembered today in films, part and parcel that came with ruling the Paramount costume territory was designing for B-movies that were also popular with the American public. Making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, almost literally, he designed for forgettable potboiler films with titles like Accent On Youth (1935), Wives Never Know (1936), I Met Him In Paris (1937), to name a few of the many dozens, yet Banton still made every leading actress look every inch the lady. While at Paramount, Travis Banton designed for over 160 films, a tremendous outpouring of talent. In that era, studios released a new movie every week of the year, so his fingerprint on so many films can still be seen by cinephiles.


Part of that success and household name recognition was due to the studio’s public relations machine that was always honed and humming, offering up the major movie lots’ designers as trustworthy authorities in style. When a fashionable fad swept the country, like broad shoulders or over-accessorizing, Hollywood was usually blamed for it in the film and women’s interest publications. Travis Banton complained about this once in a 1937 film magazine when he was quoted saying, “Hollywood was given undeserved credit for eccentric styles frowned upon by Paris designers. I admit that the movies sometimes began disturbing vogues—like going hatless. Perhaps the hatless fad started in Hollywood generally because of its great weather and the healthy hair of its stars.”


It’s hard to imagine now in the overly image-conscious Hollywood that the Academy AwardÒ for Best Costume category didn’t even exist before 1948. But designers became household names, thanks to the incessant barrage of movie magazines that kept their readership informed of the film stars and teams who helped them uphold their glamorous perch high atop Mount Hollywood. An example from a screen magazine of the day offered Banton’s advice: “Don’t copy the screen costume you see exactly, because they are often too “stagey” for the average women’s wear. Our styles for picture purposes are many times the expression of the “mood” of the star in that sequence—and not the expression of the style of the moment—so don’t be led astray, and if you copy screen styles, do so in moderation and use the idea more than the exact gown or suit you admire.”



With his high outpouring of design talent, by 1939, Banton was ready for a change when his contract at Paramount ended. He pulled up stakes and moved to 20th Century-Fox studios, where he dressed stars Loretta Young, Betty Grable, Gene Tierney, Carmen Miranda, fellow native Texan Linda Darnell, and others until 1941. From the early-to-late 1940s, he was the designer at Columbia Pictures and RKO Studios before becoming the chief designer at Universal Studios, dressing actresses Deanna Durbin, Merle Oberon, Susan Hayward, and Rosalind Russell. Banton definitively proved that during the 1940s, Hollywood’s American design talent could surpass that seen in Paris.


Banton’s excessive drinking was the primary reason for his knocking about several studios. Yet, his talent was matched by only a few designers of the era, such as Edith Head, Walter Plunkett, and Helen Rose, all in a rarified circle of talent. His friendship and close professional relationship with leading lady Rosalind Russell were cemented with her films Sister Kenny (1946) and The Velvet Touch (1948). After Banton’s final motion picture assignment, the biopic Valentino (1951) for Columbia Pictures, he exited the film business. Instead, he returned to work for his former Paramount boss, Howard Greer of Greer, Inc., to design clothing for private clients. He then returned to Hollywood once more in 1956 to open a fashion salon with Russian designer Maruisa Toumanoff Sassi, then entered stage left to collaborate in designing the extravagant gowns worn by his old pal Rosalind Russell in the 1956 triumphant Broadway production of Auntie Mame


Late in life, Banton recalled that in Hollywood, he had “loathed those endless barbecue things, deadly-dull afternoons spent staring at people wallowing in swimming pools…in a place where even the French champagne went flat as soon as it was poured.” He admitted, however, to a certain ambivalence, for he needed the studio earnings that supplied the art, antiques, and extravagant lifestyle compatible with his curated tastes. Merle Oberon summarized the feelings of their mutual loyalty when she insisted that Banton dress her in the 1945 film, A Song to Remember. She said that Banton “not only knew what the character ought to look like, but also understood what an actress was the happiest wearing, which is very rare for a costume designer. As a result, I never found it necessary to make a single change on any of his drawings.” Travis Banton died in 1958, designing for television and variety programs like The Dinah Shore Show. Yet, Texans will always be able to claim him as one of its most talented native-born sons whose creativity can always be seen any time in vintage films on Turner Classic Movies.




The South of France is always a favorite for visiting Texans. Especially, Monaco. Join our intrepid traveler Gordon Kendall as he jets to the French Riviera and reports on why the French and Texans love having a quality-filled vacation there.

If it has not been a year of travel, it has been a year of dreams…of travel. Where has your imagination, if not your passport, taken you? For some, the adventurous out-of-doors lures, while others seek to rediscover personal favorite haunts. Then, there are those who want to splurge. In recounting recent trips of pre-pandemic times, one delightful but too brief day trip to Monaco and the international luxury hub of Monte Carlo should inspire those sybarites. Yachts? Yes. High fashion? Of course. All the man-made luxury available set against a backdrop of incredibly natural scenic beauty. A sudden, impromptu glimpse of a genuine prince certainly wasn’t a detraction from the excitement. 



Visitors to this famed Principality arrive as best they can: yacht tenders streak in and around Port Hercule, depositing the nautically endowed, and the heliport and helipads atop many a building welcome those who descend from the skies. Many a luxury car, often sporting custom colors and trims, huddle at hotel front doors like elegant dogs waiting for their owners to take them out for perambulations. Or, you can take the train and enjoy the breathtaking scenery it affords, as you travel, from either Menton or Villefranche-sur-Mer depending on your direction. On a clear, bright (if a bit hot) summer day, whether you look to the hills or along the stunning coast, it would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful setting.


Our own journey into Monaco that day began in a manner appropriate for a venue known for gambling. From our starting location lay the Italian attraction of Cinq Terre with Monaco in the opposite direction. As gambling has for so long determined Monaco’s fate, a coin toss, not a hand of Baccarat, settled Monte Carlo as our choice, and we set out from the station at Ventimiglia.


Our guide, an affable Brit named Paul Thompson, who makes it his business to squire visitors through this remarkable place, met us at Monaco’s modernist train station, and we were soon walking the sundrenched Quai Albert along the Grand Prix course. If ever there was a place with stories to tell, it would be Monaco. There are many recounts of famous cars, drivers, and races for car buffs, and related tours focused on those aspects of the place can be had. Of course, for movie fans, there are walking tours of the many locations used in films, such as Hitchcock’s 1955 classic, To Catch a Thief, and, to cover both cars and films in one go, Frankenheimer’s 1966 equally classic Grand Prix. What would tours of these kinds be without a bit of gossip? Our guide shared tib-bits about the apartments looming above us, all with price tags that would make those who spell money in any language with a “B” think twice. Interesting though were, our guide’s recount of the tiny country’s history, heroics of various car drivers, and its astronomical costs, still we slipped away in thought. How to describe a place about which you have always heard but are now actually there? For it was easy to see there were two faces to the Monaco we then encountered.


First, Monaco’s breathtakingly scenic side, a dramatic coastline outlined with beautiful cliffs and gardens, the majestic port laden with yachts of surreal proportions and designs, like creatures from name your Sci-Fi film waiting to return to their aquatic galaxies. Turn the other direction, however. There, towards the hills above where there are…buildings…and more buildings. Like so many boxes from Lawrence Graff, all stacked together, hurriedly, on top of each other, some seeming to tumble onto others. Each, precious and expensive, perhaps beautiful in its own way. How to know with each visually on top of the other? This chock-a-block image stood, in contrast, to the vista just a head turn away. Our guide had the answer to clear from our minds what he called these contrasting Legoland visions. Visit a palace. Specifically, “Le Palais Princier,” to see the changing of the guards at noon. Rediscover, in other words, that unique magic surrounding Monaco, no matter which way you look.


At the palace, in a throng a few minutes later, we stood, waiting, to watch as centuries of ceremony would be carried out for another day in front of the palace gates. Our experienced guide, however, sensed unfamiliar activity. The guards, as he put it, “are up to something.” Barricades suddenly appeared, lines of white-suited men formed, and around the corner appeared a phalanx. “Oh, good! We’ll maybe get to see Prince Albert,” he exclaimed. Then, in a brief flash, the princely coach out of the group went past.  With a quick nod of his head, one man in back turned and acknowledged the crowd as the processional streaked by and through suddenly opened palace gates. Were he mounted on a white steed, such a princely image would have made the scene most fairy-tale-like, indeed. All of us, however, standing in the Monaco noon sun, envied the air-conditioned practicality of this modern-day prince: a white Lexus 460 sedan.


The palace secured for another day, we set off inside on a tour of its for-your-eyes-not-cameras-only treasures. Since the group of us were not privy to invitations to the apartments we had passed earlier, the ornate palace of gilt and silk would be the closest we would come to experiencing similar ambiances. That said, who could not think the palace a perfect setting for such a style icon as whom we know as Grace Kelly, but was Princess Consort of Monaco, or, simply, Grace de Monaco?


One story of the fabled palace and its inhabitants is from fine art photographer Gray Hawn. She photographed Princess Grace’s last portrait before her untimely death in 1982. “Of course, Princess Grace was gracious and lovely and definitely a princess. Prince Rainier was funny and intelligent,” shares Hawn. “As a photographer, I’ve always had a dreamy love affair with France, and especially at the thought of photographing Princess Grace. The first time I went to Monaco, I stayed on the French Riviera, and when my room overlooked the Mediterranean Sea, with all of its lavish yachts, how could I not be in love with such a beautiful sight?”


Another Texan, Houstonian philanthropist Lynn Wyatt, has many fond memories about the south of France, especially since Princess Grace was a close friend. “I was there every summer for a long time, and I always enjoyed entertaining guests who would come visit,” she says. “Nancy Reagan invited me the first time. Then, I got a villa–I didn’t want to buy since home to me is Texas. I was fortunate to have met so many fabulous people while there–they stayed with me, and I stayed with them. How lucky I was to be able to do those things. Of course, Oscar would be there between his business in Houston and the Middle East.” In fact, so popular was Lynn Wyatt that her annual birthday parties, during the high summer season, became a legendary and coveted invitation.


Onward, we knew lunch was in order. Over Monaco’s own beer…a full-tasting malty brew with perhaps a hint of rose, we contemplated what lay ahead. Our bank balances prevented a full-on assault of the gaming tables, but visiting the casinos, at least their lobbies were gratis, as was wandering past the shops. Those shops. All your favorite brands present and accounted for, and a few that even give the most ardent fashion followers pause. As to their offerings? Fur coats in July to wear on chilly yacht evenings? A parure of diamonds in time for this evening? That handbag? Your credit card, please, and it was a business to do your shopping pleasure in this luxury-laden metropolis.


We sought another respite… from the sun in the lobby of The Fairmont Monte Carlo, complete with a frothy cocktail. More stores awaited our examination. Venetian shoes scattered with crystals in every style imaginable lured those ladies so interested in Rene Caovilla. The sartorial delights of Stefano Ricci promised to transform any man into being mistaken for an Italian count or, perhaps just as well, extremely rich. Across the way, another place caught our eye. “Pawn Shop” would be too lowly a description. No matter such comparisons, how could such a place not attract with its outrageous display of still shiny yet slightly faded luxuries? What we saw there, the once riches of others were now their costly cast-offs. Thus, they were all the more intriguing, n’est-ce pas? Their mystique being their own stories, indeed, as much as any image conjured by their brand. But what might these tales be? Were the many hubcap-sized gold Rolexes sold to pay off that one unlucky poker hand? The (very) many more Hermes Birkin bags deaccessioned in order to cover unexpected “expenses”? Or, were their former owners simply bored and burdened by yet another purse in their closets? The shopkeeper would just shrug if asked, so we didn’t.  Such stories may never be known, perhaps for the best. Isn’t it fun to wonder how the coveted become the commoditized in such a place as Monaco?


Had we stayed for dinner, of course, Le Louis XV, Alain Ducasse’s many Michelin starred outposts in the Hotel de Paris would be a draw. We heard from one lucky source that even the breadbasket with accompanying pots of hand-made butter was exquisite. Other intelligence revealed Marcel Ravin’s Blue Bay (with merely one Michelin star) at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort is a wonderful choice for fine dining in an atmosphere slightly more contemporary and much less ornate than Chez Ducasse. We look forward to our next visit, or, perhaps, the one you will take there, to inform us better.


Our time running out, we made it past the beach to the cement steps near the Grimaldi Forum. Walking back to the station, we watched the bathers diving into the sapphire waters, truly sans souci. Back on the train to Italy, the brochure of the current exhibit, Histoire d’ Une Rencontre, which we saw at the palace, again intrigued us. As this was our first trip to Monaco, so, too, was the show about the first time then-Grace Kelly met always-Prince Renier III May 6, 1955.  From that “first date,” complete with meeting not only the Prince but also his pet tiger, came forth the engagement leading to her becoming the iconic Princess Grace of Monaco.


Upon reflection, something more came about from that meeting, did it not? Monaco’s image emerged and remains as being the place for dreams like never before and forever and eternal. Anything at all. A place where it’s possible to make your own dreams come true. Then at the altar for Princess Grace, or now at the gaming tables, for us all.  Show the world from the palace throne room or the yacht deck your own dreams did come true. Even icons have dreams, and in Monaco, those dreams remain for us all, and unlike almost everything else, there: no charge.    


Show the world from the palace throne room or the yacht deck that your own dreams did come true. Even icons have dreams, and in Monaco, those dreams remain for us all, and unlike almost everything else, there: no charge.



In the new tome, Expressive Interiors: Designing an Inviting Home by Sandra Lucas and Sarah Eilers (Rizzoli), two Houston dynamos are taking the world by storm with their point of view toward classically contemporary design. Here, in an exclusive, we get a glimpse into an art collector client’s dream home that is both serenely comfortable and powerfully dynamic.



When Texas-bred Jayne Mansfield moved to Los Angeles, she knew what she wanted. That giant-sized ambition fueled a career during the waning days of Hollywood’s Golden Age that leaves a timeless legacy. Here, our culture chronicler Lori Duran shares insight on the glamorous life and career of the remarkable mid-century bombshell.

Jayne Mansfield was a movie star in the late 1950s who was determined to become famous at an early age. As a little girl, Mansfield idolized the tiny 20th Century Fox studio star Shirley Temple, an example of a movie star who she dreamed of becoming herself. Once she arrived in Tinseltown, she capitalized on the by-then familiar blonde bombshell routine. Many had come before her to great success, like Marion Davies, Carole Lombard, and Betty Grable, to name a few. Many had also failed. In order to rival her contemporaries, such as Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren, Mansfield used her considerable intelligence to create publicity with an image as a seductively styled celebrity. In fact, she was Mensa smart, a detail that was noteworthy in a world of publicist-invented elements created to make a potential star rise beyond the pack of Hollywood hopefuls who fell off the bus at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, seeking their own fame and fortune. Along the way, she married and divorced three times and had five children. Yet, Jayne had the grit and determination that took her to the heights of fame, while juggling multiple responsibilities. She was, in a word, unforgettable.



Jayne Mansfield, the woman destined to be a movie star, was born Vera Jayne Palmer in 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to an attorney, Herbert W. Palmer, and his wife, Vera. In 1936, her father died.  Vera married Harry Peers three years later, and the family moved to the tony Highland Park enclave of Dallas, where Mansfield was known as Vera Jayne Peers. The future ingenue later said she always felt like a Texan and always loved the cinema. She idolized the film stars of her childhood and was determined to perform. By the time she turned five, she was singing for anyone who would listen, including her gigantic collection of stuffed animals. At seven, she would stand in her driveway and play the violin for passers-by. Though her idols changed over the years–from Shirley Temple to Gene Tierney, Hedy Lamarr, and Jean Harlow–they were always movie box office stars who served as inspirations.


She attended Highland Park High School and graduated in 1950. Her high school yearbook photo shows a brunette Jayne that participated in orchestra, the Hi-Lites girl’s service club, and the riding club. Early in life, she started a family, marrying her high school sweetheart, and having a baby girl, just six months after graduation. In November of 1950, Jayne Marie Mansfield was born to the 17-year-old Vera Jayne and her husband, Paul Mansfield. As a young mother and newlywed, she participated in local theatre, and in 1951, she enrolled at Southern Methodist University to study acting. In 1952, the Mansfield’s moved to study at the University of Texas at Austin, where she belonged to the drama department’s Curtain Club. She would then go on to act and practice her craft in numerous plays at the Austin Civic Theatre, later to be renamed the Zachary Scott Theatre.


During the Korean War, Paul left for Army reserve duty, but her husband’s tour of duty and her new baby did not divert the potential star’s aspirations. Before leaving, Paul relented and promised her that when it was over, the family would move to Hollywood. Two years later, when Paul returned home, the little Mansfield family started out for California. However, Paul stayed only a few months in Tinseltown. With his wife’s hair now dyed peroxide blonde, and her unrelenting career drive, Paul Mansfield grew dissatisfied and returned to Texas. Even after they later divorced and Jayne remarried, she kept the last name Mansfield because she thought it sounded illustrious. And then she began to use her middle name, Jayne.

In 1954, when the 21-year-old Jayne arrived in Los Angeles to stay, she glowed bright and burned with ambition. She pushed forward to be in the movies between such odd jobs as a movie theater candy vendor and modeling in men’s magazines. She was signed to Warner Brothers Studio after a talent scout discovered her in a production at the Pasadena Playhouse, a breeding ground for potential talent, then and now. Her persistence paid off, and the studio began awarding her bit parts until she was noticed, and within just a couple more years, she was receiving prominent billing in successful films. Then, Fox studios signed Mansfield as a replacement for their major contract star, an increasingly troubled Marilyn Monroe. Jayne’s acting in The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) would turn out to be one of her best roles–she almost portrayed herself. That was followed up by Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957), which demonstrated her humor-filled personality. For that, she received a Golden Globe Award nomination as New Star of the Year and went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance in The Wayward Bus (1957). Her other mainstream starring role film successes followed in the late 1950s, such as Kiss Them for Me (1957) and The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958). She promoted her films with robust gusto as few other movie stars did. Most stars disliked the rote promotional appearances that she relished, from supermarket openings to interview shows. In 1957, she went on a whirlwind tour of Europe to entertain the U.S. troops stationed there and support the release of Kiss Them For Me, a military soap opera co-starring Cary Grant. Being the morale builder that she was, hundreds of photographers and waiting fans greeted her at the airport upon her arrival. She was even presented to Queen Elizabeth.



In 1958, Jayne Mansfield married Hungarian-born bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, who left Mae West’s act to join Jayne on stage with her cabaret nightclub performances and co-star in the film, The Love Of Hercules (1960). They would have three children, Miklos Jr., Zoltan, and Mariska. Usually, having multiple young children would have slowed down other performers, but it did not derail Jayne. By 1958, Jayne had been asked to appear in nightly performances at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where she sang, danced, and joked with the audience. She loved being able to interact with her fans personally, and the Tropicana loved the crowds she drew. Her performances brought in a full house every night. It was the beginning of a long-standing, successful nightclub career for the star. Starring in several hit television shows of the era like The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Burke’s Law, and Kraft Mystery Theater, to name a few, also brought fame during this period. 


Along the way, Mansfield branded herself with the color pink. In November 1957, shortly before her marriage to Hargitay, Jayne used money from an inheritance to buy the Mediterranean-style mansion, once owned by Rudy Vallée, in Beverly Hills. Immediately the house was painted pink, complete with cupids surrounded by pink fluorescent lights. She even had pink fur in the bathroom, a pink heart-shaped bathtub, and a fountain that bubbled with pink champagne. And she dubbed it the Pink Palace. Hargitay built the pink heart-shaped swimming pool, and she began riding in a pink Cadillac, convertible complete with tailfins. She was riding high and at the peak of her film career when in 1960, she received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame for her film contributions. Jayne had become a celebrity, but not because of her best qualities. She fluently spoke five languages and boasted an I.Q. of 163. Even Mansfield admitted her public didn’t care about her brains, yet instead, “they’re more interested in 40-21-35”. To stand apart from her Hollywood competition of the era, she was keen on publicity and invented her own “wardrobe malfunction” to show off her natural assets to their best advantage.


“I’ll always remember the time in the late 1950s when Jayne, Mickey, and I were in their pink Cadillac going to a radio station for a publicity interview one afternoon,” recalled Gretchen Fine, a long-time Hollywood publicist who represented Mansfield at the time. “It was on the way to a personal appearance I had booked, promoting a new film Jayne had coming out. Mickey was coaching her in the back seat, and Jayne kept quieting him, telling him that she knew exactly what she was going to say. And she did. Jayne always knew her stuff.  She was funny and very sweet. She was also incredibly smart.”


She turned heads as a voluptuous, dumb-acting glamorous blonde movie star. However, some of her self-promotional antics went too far in the minds of media tastemakers of the era. Her on-screen career included only a couple dozen films. Some of those films elevated her career, yet others were beneath her talents. Both on and off-screen, she cultivated her own style to perfection. Her distinctive speech included soft-voiced coos punctuated with squeals. But it was Mansfield’s exhibitionistic ways that would limit her career, especially when she appeared in the overtly sexy movie Promises, Promises, and made appearances in Playboy magazine when that was often considered taboo at the time in Hollywood. Consequently, 20th Century Fox studio dropped her contract, and Hargitay divorced her.

In 1964, the newly divorced Mansfield married director Matt Cimber. In 1965, they had a son named Anthony (Tony), her fifth child. She was the ultimate working mother, at a time when that was not admired like it is today. Her time was split between a nightclub tour and the production of her mostly forgotten final film, Single Room Furnished, which was directed by her husband. Reportedly depressed with her career slump, Mansfield was drinking. At the advice of Cimber, she even rejected the role of Ginger in T.V.’s Gilligan’s Island, the part of the Hollywood bombshell went to Tina Louise.


Mansfield would go on to work in low-paying B-movies with the occasional appearance in a more respectable film. Her physical attributes were no longer maintaining her original popularity nor paying off handsomely. In 1966, Matt Cimber divorced Jayne, and she became romantically involved with her attorney, Sam Brody. Now, Mansfield only garnered press recognition for news such as when she was named in a divorce suit by Brody’s ailing wife. Jayne was once one of the most glamorous rising stars of the movie industry, a rival to Marilyn Monroe, but by the mid-sixties, she was no longer headlining mainstream films.  Unfortunately, her entertainment career was tragically cut short after just 13 years. However, Jayne Mansfield was one of those people you cannot forget, either by her movies or by how she died.


In June of 1967, Jayne Mansfield was performing at Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi, where she put on two nightly shows at 9:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M. After a June 28th evening engagement, Mansfield left at 2:30 A.M the next morning, June 29, for an early New Orleans TV show interview and promotional appearance. Inside the car with her was the driver, Brody, three of her five children, and her Chihuahua dogs. The new Buick sped down a winding, narrow stretch of U.S. Hwy. 90, just west of the Rigolets bridge. Sadly, visibility was poor that night, and it’s possible the driver didn’t see the tractor-trailer rig before their car plowed into it. The tractor-trailer had halted behind a city vehicle spraying the Louisiana swamps with pesticide. As their car hit the rear of the truck, it under rode the trailer, and the roof was practically sheared off. All the adults and dogs were in the front seat and died on the scene. The three children, in the back seat, suffered some injuries yet lived. Jayne was laid to rest in Fairview Cemetery in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania. There is also a cenotaph dedicated to her in the Hollywood Forever Memorial Park in Los Angeles.


The tragedy of Jayne’s death led to “underride guards,” also known as Mansfield bars or bumpers for semi-trucks that help prevent the under riding that claimed so many lives in that era. In the aftermath, Mansfield’s pink palace was sold, and its subsequent owners have included Ringo Starr and Englebert Humperdink. Humperdink sold the house to developers in 2002, and the house was demolished a few months later, including its famous heart-shaped pool that offered so many publicity opportunities for Mansfield.


In 1980, her life and career with Mickey Hargitay was portrayed in a highly rated 1980 movie of the week with Loni Anderson portraying Mansfield and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hargitay. One of Jayne Mansfield’s offspring reached the sustained acting success that eluded Jayne. Mariska Hargitay, her second youngest child, is a movie and television actress who is beloved by many. Her career includes a co-starring role in the long-running T.V. series Law and Order, Special Victims Unit.


The best of Mansfield’s career was her early years in Los Angeles, as she crafted her own outlandish style and, with that, she left her indelible mark on the history of Hollywood that lives on today, thanks to frequent showings of her most memorable films on Turner Classic Movies, as well as being available to stream, and on DVD.



Frances Carolina Roberts And Andrew Jackson “AJ” Lewis IV Wed In San Antonio

By Lance Avery Morgan

Photography by Sarah Kate

When the invitation to the wedding was received by 894 guests, everyone knew they were in for something spectacular. Frances “Carolina” Roberts, the daughter of Elizabeth and Barry Roberts and Andrew Jackson “AJ” Lewis IV, the son of Liza and Jack Lewis, all of San Antonio, enjoyed a two and half-year courtship and a one-year engagement, after initially meeting through the San Antonio German Club, a brahman social club in the city. 

The couple was engaged in a truly fitting Texas-style…on the groom’s family ranch. With a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon and monogrammed cups by his side, AJ asked Carolina to be his life mate while overlooking the ranch perched on the Pedernales River. “Before I knew it, I turned around and saw AJ on one knee, with a ring in his hand. It turned out our families were all waiting for the green light so they could come and meet us where we were. They came bolting down the hill with bells and whistles,” enthused the bride, Carolina Lewis. 

The evening wedding, which occurred before the COVID-19 pandemic began, took months of planning for the grand weekend to happen in San Antonio. Billinda Wilkinson of Wilkinson Rhodes event production company and her team of international designers creatively directed the event, and Danny Cuellar of Trinity Flowers collaborated to  execute a magnificent design for the church. The wedding weekend’s festivities began with the rehearsal dinner for the family, wedding party, and out of town guests, at the Coates Chapel at the Southwest School of Art. The wedding venue, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, was a magnificent setting with a mix of the bride’s favorite flowers. Under the direction of Wilkinson Rhodes, Danny Cuellar created the bride’s vision for the church including a floral armature specifically designed for St Mark’s Episcopal Church.  

The bride walked down the elongated aisle wearing a dress that was a custom combination creation of Marchesa and Creviax by Javier Castillo. She wore a beaded pearl butterfly brooch, as well as an antique lace train that had been passed down for four McAllen family generations. “One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was when our Reverend Matt Wise asked me and AJ to turn around and look at the audience. He told the audience that the night before (at the rehearsal dinner) he had walked around the room and asked some of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, What do you love about Carolina and AJ’s love for each other? He then shared with us, and our guests, many of the sweet thoughts our friends’ had said the night before,” said Carolina Lewis.

The bride selected six flower girls, four ring bearers, and three attendants who were boys over the age of 10, in addition to her bridal party that were: Alicia Urrutia Amberson, Margaret McAllen Amberson, Lillian Foster Calvert, Claudia Luedemann Kiolbassa, Hannah Claire Gibson, Lauren Anne Gray, Carroll McLemore Ison, Meredith Anne Knight, Sallie Wolff Lewis, Felicia Louise Mannix, Diana Lynn Rubin, Fannie Lewis Thomas, and Jane Elizabeth Towns. She chose Josephine Tinsley Simpson as her maid of honor. The groom selected his cousin, Richard Spencer Lewis II, as his best man. The groomsmen who attended AJ were Hunter Hill Comiskey, Robert Menefee Cavender, Jr., Tyler Manning Hays, Dana Gareth Kirk, Jr., Moses McLish Moorman, Stewart Louis Korte, Carlos Federico Longoria, John Argyle McAllen Roberts, George Coates Roberts, Gregory Allen Rubiola, Jr., Charles Clayton Thomas, Jr., John Stuart West, and Burk Ricks Wilson, Jr. The ushers serving him were: Barclay Cunningham Adams, Kenneth Stanley Adams IV, Argyle Christian Amberson, Diego Andrés Guerra, Enrique Eduardo Guerra III, Lorenzo Tomás Guerra, John Luke Mannix, and John Thomas Saunders III.

Immediately after the ceremony, the newly betrothed couple joined the family dinner upstairs at The Argyle, while the wedding reception was in full swing below. “We enjoyed an intimate dinner with our parents before going out to the reception, which gave us a chance to relax, enjoy a cocktail, and sample all the wonderful foods being served at the wedding reception before greeting our guests,” remarked Carolina Lewis. The colors in the elaborately tented reception were hunter green, white, and blush pink, with shades of gold. It was a feast for the guests’ senses as over-scaled floral consisting of over 50,000 hybrid delphinium, hydrangea, larkspur, phalaenopsis, and garden roses arranged in unique floral designs welcomed guests at every turn. Upon entering the dinner, attendees were enveloped by a floral wonderland spanning the length of the tent. The ceiling was filled with over 5,000 stems of cascading flowers and foliage. The bridal party tables featured lush flower runners with arching floral garlands rising above them.

Since the couple had planned a honeymoon to Asia, there was an Asian flair to the buffet dinner with a selection of food stations astutely provided by The Argyle team. There were gorgeous De Gournay-style framed panels around the reception and a beautiful bar created with a series of brightly colored fans mixed with orchids and other tropical flowers. The bridal couple shares a love of food, especially sushi, so it was a treat to have three sushi chefs freshly preparing various rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, along with an incredible noodle bar with ice-cold Asian beer and sake pairings. The fresh seafood bar was topped with an exquisite ice sculpture of two kissing elephants whose trunks formed the shape of a heart.

The specialty cocktails also beautifully represented the couple with “his” and “hers” drinks. The “his” drink was a traditional margarita on the rocks, called a Spanish Spark named after the groom’s favorite drink, the Chispa, served at the famous Soluna Mexican food restaurant in San Antonio. The “her” drink was a twist on a French 75 cocktail called a Purdey Girl (named after the couple’s English cocker spaniel) and consisted of champagne, vodka, cranberry juice, with a large ice cube with small orchid flowers frozen in its center. The bride’s cake, created by Cakes by Cathy Young of San Antonio, was strawberry, with blush pink icing and filling. The groom’s cake was custom made by The Painted Cake. Half of the cake portrayed an African scene with a Baobab tree, elephant, campfire and tent, while the other half was a scene from their Fredericksburg ranch with personal touches to the bride and groom, such as their dog, Purdey. The cake was cut with a ceremonial sword from AJ’s maternal grandfather, Brigadier General James S. Billups, from when he attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. The fun continued in the dance tent, where the bar surrounded a two-story tree filled with over 600 stems of elongated, bright white, dripping phalaenopsis orchids, while the tent poles themselves danced with 25 feet of garlands of silver dollar and seeded eucalyptus and more than a thousand roses of different varieties.

Attendees at the reception enjoyed dancing to the Georgia Bridge Water Orchestra, from Jordan Khan Productions, and were also treated to a performance by Cris Cab, who was a wedding guest. The after-party was in the Coates Garden, the newest addition to The Argyle,  and had guests dancing the night away by music provided by D.J. Rooney G, in from New York.


The couple’s Asian honeymoon took them on an extended journey ranging from Bali to Japan, where they look forward to visiting again soon. They reside in San Antonio, where Carolina, a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, has just started her own company with two of her cousins, and AJ, a graduate of Texas Christian University, is an executive at his family’s business, Mission Restaurant Supply. “In our spare time, we love to travel, go to the ranch and beach, cook, play with our dog, play backgammon, and spend time with each other’s families and friends,” said Carolina Lewis.