The Order of the Alamo Presents The Court of America The Beautiful

By Jake Gaines Photography by Gary Stanko  


THE SETTING: The fabulous gowns and trains that are the focal point of the Fiesta coronation each year are legendary. This year the United States quite literally took center stage as the focus, too. Mistress of the Robes Elizabeth Roberts and the Court Artist Roxana Newsom spent the past year designing each work of art that would be worn by the 24 duchesses of The Court of America The Beautiful. The Order of the Alamo coronation chairman has the responsibility of appointing the Mistress of the Robes, the person to decide on a theme, find inspiration and conduct research for the Coronation robe designs. Every year the Coronation has a different theme. Some of the past themes have celebrated Argentine Republic, Treasures of Africa, Nature’s Tapestry, the Napoleonic Empire, and more. Together we focused on some of the themes that make America unique. Endeavoring to tell the story of America, but limited to twenty-four Duchesses, along with and a Queen and Princess, the details in the dresses and trains were very important according to Roberts.

With this most stately theme, the duchesses stunned in their regal gowns, each adorned with Swarovski crystals, glass baguettes, bugle beads, and custom stones. Each gown featured a 10 to 14-foot long train and weighed up to 60 pounds. The theme was inspired by American history, music, art, literature, space exploration, architecture, national parks, flora and fauna, Native Americans, America’s westward expansion and explorers to the New World. Some of the 2019 robe themes were: the New American Sound, Celestial Wonders, Celebrated Stories, Splendors of the New World, Dreams of Limitless Possibilities, and Lush Tropical Paradise.

The Princess’ train was inspired by the song “America the Beautiful” by Katherine Bates and represented the agricultural and natural riches of America’s Heartland and “Purple Mountains Majesty Above the Fruited Plain.” The Queen’s train represented architectural and environmental elements seen in Washington, D.C. representing influences from across the nation and in international friendships. The capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Oval Office, the Resolute desk and the Washington Mall’s cherry trees in full bloom. Instead of a red, white and blue theme, we chose to focus on the delicate beauty of the cherry blossoms resplendent each spring, planted early in the 20th century to celebrate the United States’ then diplomatic friendship with Japan. No detail left unplanned, Roberts and Newsom event utilized cherry blossoms for the coronation stage backdrop showcasing this year’s creations.

 The presentation of these stunning, bejeweled designs culminated with the final young lady to ascend the grand stage of the Majestic Theatre, Claudia Kiolbassa, Queen Of The Court Of America The Beautiful. The Duchesses and the Royal Princess preceded the Queen ascending the stage as well. It is a spectacular evening of pomp and circumstance.

THE STYLE: With a backdrop featuring classic American landmarks, the Majestic lived up to its name setting a most majestic scene for the Order of the Alamo’s coronation of the Queen of the Court of America The Beautiful. Fifteen duchesses from San Antonio and nine duchesses from Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Eldorado and Napa, California represented various themes woven into the overall collection and ceremony celebrating our state and nation. The first to make an appearance on stage were the young court pages. Each little girl, dressed in a long dress and tiny tiara, curtsied before the crowd and took her place to favorite instrumental performances that represented the United States. It was then that Lord High Chamberlain Wilbur Matthews II made his grand entrance. Serving as King Antonio XCVII was Roger Hill III and the Order of the Alamo President was Marshall Steves III. The Coronation Chairman for the festivities was  Elliott Hayne.

THE PURPOSE: Since 1891, every April, San Antonio celebrates Fiesta to honor the heroes of the historic Battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. In 1909, the Order of the Alamo joined in what would become the city’s largest party and every year has elected a queen to reign over the celebrations. A princess and a court is comprised of twenty-four duchesses, young ladies from San Antonio, as well as outside San Antonio, are elected to represent Texas’ heritage.



Gala Honors 2019 Class Of San Antonio Symphony Belles

By Jake Gaines          Photography by Greg Harrison

THE SETTING: The San Antonio Symphony League recently celebrated its 48th annual Symphony Ball in the heart of the city it calls home. The League presented this year’s class of elegant young Symphony Belles at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa with their families, friends and symphony supporters.  With the theme of An Evening in The Gardens of Versailles, the attendees enjoyed dinner and dancing late into the night, with catering provided by the JW Marriott.  

THE STYLE: In keeping with tradition, the Belles donned white gowns as they were presented to their guests by their fathers. Following the formal presentation, partygoers enjoyed a scrumptious meal and danced the night away making memories to last a lifetime. The evening concluded a year filled with beautiful teas, luncheons and parties, each celebrating the 2019 senior Symphony Belles and benefitting the San Antonio Symphony League. The floral décor was provided by Danny Cuellar of Trinity Flowers. The resplendent display of roses and hydrangeas in striking shades of pinks and lavenders depicted the ambiance of the gardens of Versailles. Guests enjoyed the evening’s fête with a performance by the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio and after-dinner dancing to the sounds of Finding Friday. 

THE PURPOSE: Rebecca and Keith Long, the 2019 Symphony Ball chairs, created an evening to remember for each Belle and her family. For nearly half a century, the San Antonio Symphony League has proudly presented young ladies who are the children and grandchildren of San Antonio Symphony League members at a formal Symphony Ball. During all four years of high school, Belles earn volunteer service hours through various Symphony League events and one hundred percent of the annual contributions made to the Belle Program are in turn donated to the San Antonio Symphony League.



Briscoe Western Art Museum Presents 18TH Annual Sale And Exhibition

By Jake Gaines          Photography by Super Q Photography

 THE SETTING: Each year the Briscoe Western Art Museum draws art enthusiasts, collectors and visitors for an opportunity to view and purchase nearly 300 works of painting, sculpture and mixed media from 80 of the country’s top western artists. This year was no different as the weekend of festivities was hosted on the banks of the iconic San Antonio River Walk. Attendees were able to enjoy an exciting live auction on Friday night, a panel discussion exploring the emerging western art market and trends on both Friday and Saturday, and a wall sale complete with live music on Saturday evening.

THE STYLE: The wide range of artworks and artist genres reflects the vastness of the great American West. From scenic landscapes, inspired Native Americans, and classic cowboys to stunning wildlife and detailed portraiture, there is something for every attendee and art enthusiast to enjoy. Some of the featured artists include John Coleman, John DeMott, C. Michael Dudash, Martin Grelle, George Hallmark, Z.S. Liang, Mark Maggiori, Jan Mapes, Billy Schenck, Kim Wiggins and Xiang Zhang.

 The opening weekend included a VIP preview, Artist Awards banquet and live auction on Friday with the second annual Briscoe Collectors Summit at the Hotel Contessa. The grand exhibition opening, art sale and reception then happened on Saturday where the memorable evening included the Luck of the Draw art sale, where all works of art are available for purchase. Delicious food stations, libations and live music under the stars from Mickey and The Motorcars rounded out the night. The museum’s public exhibition continued with all unsold artwork available for purchase.

THE PURPOSE: The Night of Artists, chaired this year by Nicole and Rob McLane, is the largest fundraiser for the Briscoe Western Art Museum with all the proceeds benefitting the museum’s programming and mission. The Briscoe Western Art Museum is a collections-based institution building upon art and artifacts that tell the vast and multifaceted story of the American West.



San Antonio Gardenia Club Luncheon Celebrates With New York Theme

By Jake Gaines          Photography by Greg Harrison

THE SETTING: New York, New York served as a glorious theme that inspired a recent luncheon to support the San Antonio Gardenia Club. Students from the Woodlawn Theatre Academy of young students and performer Melissa Gonzalez opened the fashion show with the performance while the group’s reigning queen, Ashton McDaniel closed the sold-out show.

THE STYLE:  The San Antonio Country Club was the setting for the event, where guests were transported to The Big Apple amongst extraordinary floral decorations befitting the organization’s name. Attendees mingled in anticipation of the main event, the annual fashion show, a sensational runway of this season’s best fashions, presented by Julian Gold.

THE PURPOSE: This year’s annual luncheon was chaired by Sharron Batchelor, Pam Gilbert and Christi Tidwell, with Carroll Dorsey Walker serving as president of the organization. The San Antonio Gardenia Club was founded in 1960, with the mission of providing fine arts scholarships to deserving students who graduate from Bexar County high schools, enabling young scholars to continue their education at local colleges. The club also participates in the annual Battle of Flowers Texas Cavalier River Parade, the Annual Holliday River Parade and the King William Parade.



Celebrity Designer Bob Mackie Jewelry Stuns

By Lance Avery Morgan  Photography by Greg Harrison

THE SETTING: Recently, at two spectacular private residences, the buzz was palpable as celebrity fashion designer Bob Mackie wowed a crowd of attendees with the launch events of his Bob Mackie Fine Jewelry collection. The jewelry pieces, set in precious stones including diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, coral as well as favorites like coral and turquoise set in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold.

THE SCENE: The chic residences of Kim Lewis and Sonya Medina served as the venues for each chic gathering. Cocktails flowed and bites were nibbled as prominent San Antonians met and mingled with Mackie, who lent his design expertise as well as insightful stories about Cher, Carol Burnett, Ann Margaret, and other Hollywood legends he has designed for over the years. Currently, Mackie is the toast of Broadway due to his costuming for the hit musical, The Cher Show. In fact, he designed the over-500 costumes for the sparkling production.

We love that the Bob Mackie Design Group has partnered with renowned jeweler Nigaam on the new collection of fine jewelry. The collaboration weds Bob Mackie’s exquisite sense of glamour and sophistication, with Nigaam’s precious stone expertise.

The result? A stunning showcase of beautiful craftsmanship and spectacular color. Upon his arrival, Bob and his team were welcomed in true Texas style by Nancy Hernandez and her staff at the iconic Little Red Barn Steakhouse – an evening to be remembered by all. As a tribute to the designer, artist Analy Diego created a piece for Sonya’s party depicting Bob through her vector illustration technique and is available for collecting at Anarte Gallery. During their visit, Mackie and his team were squired about in brand new Cadillac SUVs provided by Ken Batchelor and Cavender Cadillac who combined efforts to provide the luxe transportation.



The German Club Celebrates Debutante Ball At St. Anthony Hotel

By Jake Gaines   Photography by JB Lyde of Parish Photography

THE SETTING: San Antonio’s debutante scene did not disappoint this season as the Jewel Ball shone as bright as a diamond at the St. Anthony Hotel. The evening’s families honoring their daughters were Jessica and Joe Bakke with their daughter Hannah Bakke, Carrie and Tom Green with their daughter Caroline Green, Betty and Daryl Lansdale with daughter Kelsey Lansdale; Amy and Doug Ryder with their daughter Elizabeth Ryder, and Niti and John Volpe with their daughter Alegra Volpe.

THE STYLE: The invitation that arrived set the tone as the theme was brought to life through a series of spectacular moments using creative designs, lovely linens and fabulous finishes at the venue. The theme was inspired by Jewels, a three-act ballet created for the New York City Ballet choreographed by George Balanchine. After visiting legendary jewelers Van Cleef and Arpels as research, Balanchine selected the three most precious stones: emeralds, rubies and diamonds for his three acts, all the colors that were woven into the evening’s décor. In fact, each room at the event was uniquely resplendent in the vibrantly jeweled colors.

Cloche Designs, founded by event industry veterans Laura Nell Burton and Christin Gish, designed and executed every aspect of the ball to its last detail. The duo created a series of spectacular moments brought to life by their team of best-in-class vendors from all over Texas and beyond including floral design, balloons by Botanical No. 9 and entertainment by Taylor Pace Orchestra.

THE PURPOSE: Steeped in tradition, the San Antonio German Club was formed in 1880. Each year since its inception, the organization has presented its debutantes during San Antonio’s social season.