Women’s Symphony League 65th Annual Jewel Ball And Luncheon Features Brooke Shields

By Rob Giardinelli  –  Photography by Darcie Westunderland


THE SETTING: The Palmer Events Center in Austin was the recent setting for the Women’s Symphony League’s 65th Annual Jewel Ball and Luncheon. Over the course of two days, nearly 1,700 of Austin’s social, fashion and philanthropic dynamos were a part of the festivities, which included the presentation of this year’s debs with a special appearance by fashion icon Brooke Shields.

THE STYLE: The first day of events commenced with the fashion show luncheon featuring over 600 of Austin’s top fashionistas. The cocktail-chic patrons began the festivities with a VIP reception where adoring guests had the opportunity to take their photo with the guest of honor, Brooke Shields. The fun then moved into the main auditorium for lunch and the afternoon program. Highlights of the luncheon included a fashion show featuring the season’s top looks from Julian Gold as well as a conversation with Brooke Shields that was effortlessly moderated by Rank & Style CEO Jamie Chandlee.

The pageantry continued into the second day of events culminating with the 65th Annual Jewel Ball presentation. Over 1,000 black-tie patrons began their evening with a cocktail hour where  conversations flowed and families mingled, while also bidding on their favorite  silent auction items. The fun time continued as the crowd took to their seats for the main jewel ball presentation, which in addition to the Austin debs featured eight visiting Jewels from Texas and beyond. The evening concluded  as the Jewel’s and their families danced the night away, capping off an incredible two days that those on hand  will not soon forget.

THE PURPOSE: The Jewel Ball Fashion Luncheon was co-chaired by Lisa Barton and Kerri Ann Chambless, while The Jewel Ball was co-chaired by Christy Merritt and Christy Werner. Proceeds from the events benefited the Women’s Symphony League of Austin  and the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the oldest continually performing symphony in Texas, with a presence in the state for over 100 years.



Harry Ransom Center Launches Modernist Networks: The Annette-Campbell White Collection Exhibit

By Rob Giardinelli  –  Photography by Pete Smith and Chad Wadsworth


THE SETTING: Austin’s Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas Campus recently hosted the opening of Modernist Networks: The Annette-Campbell White Collection exhibit. The event drew 350 of the city and state’s most passionate artistic and literary patrons for an evening of creativity, fun and most importantly, the rare opportunity to view letters, books and manuscripts from some of the world’s most notable Modernist writers.

THE STYLE: The Austin-chic crowd began the evening with a VIP cocktail reception on the mezzanine level of the Harry Ransom Center where patrons mingled with the guest of honor, Annette-Campbell White. The reception included remarks by Campbell-White, who also debuted her memoir Beyond Market Value: A Memoir of Book Collecting and the World of Venture Capital, which provides the back story to the selection and highlights of her collection.

Upon completion of the reception, the action moved downstairs to view the opening of the exhibit. Guests had the opportunity to be the first to see the exhibit, which includes manuscripts of such literary icons  such as T. S. Eliot, Stéphane Mallarmé, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Joseph Conrad, and many others. It is a must-see for anyone interested in Modernist authors and works.

THE PURPOSE: The exhibit is on display at the Harry Ransom Center through January 5, 2020. Featuring nearly one million books, 42 million manuscripts, five million photographs and 100,000 works of art, The Harry Ransom Center preserves the worlds’ most important literary and artistic collections and makes them accessible to researchers from around the world.



Ballet Austin’s Fête and fête*ish Features Celestino Couture Runway Show

By Rob Giardinelli    –    Photography by John Pesina


THE SETTING: Austin’s JW Marriott was the recent setting for the Ballet Austin Fête and fête*ish after-party. This year’s event, Fête Couture kicked off the Austin fall gala season in high style. During the course of the evening, over 600 guests fortunate enough to be a part of the festivities were treated to a fabulous evening of fun and fashion.

THE STYLE: The night began in the ballroom foyer for cocktail hour. Over 300 black-tie clad attendees took advantage of the stylish theme by donning their finest interpretation of couture that created a seamless and beautiful tapestry with women wearing everything from bold prints to  sequined gowns. The men donned tuxedos, many of whom took the liberty of wearing colorful dinner jackets that reflected bold fashion choices.

The action then moved to the ballroom for the main program where, Master of Ceremonies, Society Texas’ own Lance Avery Morgan, effortlessly kept the festivities flowing, all the while an additional 300 partygoers were getting the fête*ish Fashion Never Sleeps after- party revved-up in the ballroom next door. Fête and fete*ish were then fused together as one party when the doors opened between the two ballrooms to reveal fête*ish well under way. Then, the start of the dazzling runway show, courtesy of internationally renowned-designer Celestino Couture, featured 23 stunning looks that brought the crowd to their feet. The afterparty ensured that the fun continued well into the night as guests danced the night away and toasted the success of the evening.

THE PURPOSE: Fête was chaired by Kara and Matt Swinney and fête*ish was co-chaired by Cassandra King Polidori and Stephanie O’Neill. Proceeds from both events benefited Ballet Austin, which is led by Cookie Ruiz and Stephen Mills. The mission of Ballet Austin is to share the joy of dance by providing accessible and exceptional arts and arts education programs for the Central Texas community.



St. David’s Foundation Celebrates 35th Season Of Toast of the Town

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Matthew Fuller, Robert Godwin and Matt Lankes


THE SETTING: St. David’s Foundation recently celebrated a milestone in its annual Toast of the Town party series. Over the past 35 years, each Toast season has featured a series of intimate experiences at many of Austin’s most celebrated and exclusive event venues. This year’s Toast party season featured a record-setting 23 events that showcased the various interests and capped off another fabulous social season in Texas’ capital city.

THE STYLE: This year’s series of events featured a wide range of fun experiences ranging from intimate dinners for 12 to cocktails for 40. Sports enthusiasts were able to have lunch and a sideline conversation with UT Football Coach Tom Herman, while those wanting to learn about presidential history could experience an evening with the LBJ Foundation’s Mark Updegrove. Attendees who wanted to let down their hair were able to socialize and cut a rug on the dance floor at the Real Housewives of Lake Austin event, or learn more about what it is really like behind the scenes of the hit NBC series The Voice with contestant and Austinite, Reid Umstattd. Lastly, a series of curated, five-star events wouldn’t be complete without experiencing food and wine at some fabulous dinner parties. The Toast party season began with an intimate dinner for 12 atop the Austonian and concluded with dinner for 20 featuring Master Sommelier, Ian Cauble.

Each of the 23 experiences, while unique in theme, have a cohesive aesthetic that is evident the second you walk into any of the events. Each party features Austin Sociables donning their finest Austin-chic attire that perfectly complemented the warm, late-spring air. The intimate events are always highlighted and featured a warm welcome from one of the party hosts and a brief message from one of the scholarship recipients on how the St. David’s Foundation has positively impacted their life.

THE PURPOSE: St. David’s Foundation Toast of the Town, chaired by Ellen Troxclair with Cassie Bale serving as vice chair, raised $1.65 million for the St. David’s Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program. Since it’s founding, over 550 students have received scholarships, currently set at 7,500 dollars per year, for those seeking to pursue health-related careers at Texas colleges and universities.



Fifth Annual Global Wildlife Conservation Event Dazzles

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Georges Schemagin and Michael Kovac, Getty Images for Global Wildlife Conservation 


THE SETTING: Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater was the recent setting for the fifth annual Wild Night for Wildlife gala supporting the Global Wildlife Conservation. The event drew over 550 of the top sociables, philanthropists and community leaders from Austin and around the country for a night of epic fun and fundraising.

THE STYLE: The excitement was palpable for attendees as they ascended the steps to the second floor exterior mezzanine for the VIP cocktail reception. After posing for pictures on the red carpet, guests, dressed in their finest Austin-chic attire, mingled about the friendly crowd. The festivities moved inside to the Moody Theatre for the evening’s program where emcee Tate Donovan effortlessly kept the patrons entertained as they dined on a delectable, multi-course vegetarian menu. Highlights of the program included a spirited live-auction, a fireside chat with UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiveristy Edward Norton and Global Wildlife Conservation board chair Brian Sheth discussing the importance of conservation and saving endangered species. The festivities were capped off by a show-stopping performance by Austin’s own Queen of Soul, Temeca Jones.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Kelly Green and Julie Jumonville, and hosted by Brian and Adria Sheth, raised over four million dollars for the Global Wildlife Conservation. The mission of the GWC is to support the diversity of life on Earth through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery and conservation leadership.


Elizabeth Ann Seton Board’s Live From ATX! Gala Dazzles

By Rob Giardinelli Photography by Ben Porter  


THE SETTING: A picture perfect evening at Austin’s Camp Mabry was the recent setting for the 28th Annual EASB Live from ATX! event. This year’s gathering attracted over 1,200 of Austin’s sociables, philanthropists and community leaders for an evening of fun and fundraising.

THE STYLE: Dressed in their finest chic spring attire, the revelry began with a cocktail hour under the beautiful early evening sun, creating a welcoming and festive environment where old friends reacquainted and new friends were made. Partygoers were then asked to proceed inside the large, open aired tent on the Camp Mabry grounds for the evening’s program.

Once inside, guests dined al fresco at their tables where the conversation continued to flow as beautifully as the gentle breezes that wafted throughout the tent. The program featured a live auction where guests robustly engaged in bidding on an array of luxury packages and VIP experiences. The program concluded with a show-stopping performance by musician and Texas native, Shinyribs. The fun continued well into the night with an after party where partygoers danced the night away under the stars to the tunes of LC Rocks.

THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Lisa Miller and Ann Townsend, raised over $1.4 million for the Marialice Shivers Regional NICU and Mother Baby Services for the Ascension Seton Medical Center. Since 1992, the event has raised over 16 million dollars for support programs and community health centers in Central Texas.