Texas Biomedical Forum Gala Spring Gala Celebrates Belle Epoque

By Jake Gaines Photography by Greg Harrison and Super Q Photography



THE SETTING: On a beautiful evening recently, The Argyle set the scene for the Texas Biomedical Forum gala, themed The Night They Invented Champagne, that celebrated all things Belle Epoque Paris. Guests were greeted at the entry with a Nebuchadnezzar large format bottle of Perrier Jouët champagne. It was curated by The Argyle’s own Clay Wheeler and was served from a specially built pouring apparatus into classic vintage coupe champagne glasses. Passing by the antique Rolls Royce, guests shopped the many French-styled carts filled with silent auction items.

The pastoral lawn of The Argyle was plush with green topiaries, hanging baskets and red geraniums, setting the scene for a Parisian walk in the park, where guests delighted in cocktails and beautiful appetizers including escargot vol-au-vant, caviar, strawberries and brie, and mousse pâté on toast points. Guests’ then continued to feast on Executive Chef Jesse Villanueva’s French-inspired menu.

THE STYLE: After dinner, Doc Watkins and his orchestra, generously sponsored by Donna and Ted Welsh, livened up the crowd out onto the dance floor, where feather fans, boas and hand-rolled cigars appeared. Couples danced into the evening and even had the opportunity to have their portraits painted by Franco-Modini Ruiz. Patrons were re-fueled by Chef Jesse’s scrumptious Croque Monsieur and Pomme Frites while imbibing more bubbles.

THE PURPOSE: The event was chaired by Whitney Solcher Miller and co-chaired by Cynthia Kerby, with the design expertise of their gala assistant, Whitney Schones. Baubles were generously provided by Lee Michael’s Fine Jewelry, with the help of Jessica Berg and Heather de Rojas, who served as the favor co-chairs. Tables were sold out thanks to Audra Kerr, the event’s table sales chair, and numerous grants were received outside of the gala thanks to Corinna Richter, the gala grants chair. Emily Jones was the silent auction chair, along with Emilie Petty as her co-chair. Amy Swaney and Kim Johnson served as underwriting co-chairs, while Haley Conger led as the after party co-chair with Kristin Tips, who was also public relations chair. The organization was founded in 1970 by a group of inspiring and hardworking women with the same goal to support the life-changing and life-saving work being done at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute through community awareness and fundraising.

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Le Brunch De Chapeaux Raises Funds For The Autism Community Network

By Jake Gaines Photography by Greg Harrison


THE SETTING: Over 530 San Antonians supported the 16th annual Le Brunch de Chapeaux benefitting Autism Community Network at The Argyle, the most beautiful and popular luncheon in the city according to many. Mistress of ceremonies Ursula Pari of KSAT-TV officiated the crowd and guest speaker Michelle Harrison, parent liaison for Alamo Heights Independent School District Special Education, shared her story to a sold-out audience of autism’s impact on her family with candor, humility and grace.

THE STYLE: The event company, Cloche Designs, was engaged for the second year and created a beautiful scene inspired by a beloved yellow and green room decorated by Dorothy Draper at The Greenbrier Hotel. The event was infused with special details at every turn, including an invitation suite designed by TradeCraft, featuring original watercolor art by artist Gina Langford. The decor included a stunning treillage backdrop for a floral display of yellow blooms and lemon trees in blue and white chinoiserie containers flanked by champagne towers. Julian Gold showcased dozens of spring and summer fashions with a personal appearance from designer Caroline Constas on the canary yellow runway designed especially for it.

The silent auction featured beautiful art from local artists. French flags were passed to paddles up donors, waived and then returned to spotters in exchange for lemon drop shots and swag bags valued at over $500 donated by Julian Gold. Guests left with complimentary Supergoop favors also donated by Worth & Associates and Julian Gold.

THE PURPOSE: Event co-chairs Linda Leavitt and Liz Lamoureux helmed raising a net profit of $167,000 for the organization. Title sponsors were La Brasada Foundation and the Quintanilla family. Raffle donors were Julian Gold, Kelly Wade Jewelers, Lee Michaels Jewelers and Shetler Fine Jewelers. The Autism Community Network provides early, high quality, interdisciplinary diagnoses, and treatment for autism service providers and families affected by autism.

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San Antonio Botanical Garden Hosts Annual Gala

By Jake Gaines    Photography by Greg Harrison and Limelight Productions

THE SETTING: For the annual Splendor in the Garden event, after a day of downpour, the clouds parted and the blue sky welcomed more than 700 people to enjoy the lush grounds of the San Antonio Botanical Garden. This year’s theme, Urban Oasis: Honoring the Sun, Soil, and Soul of San Antonio, honored the City of San Antonio for its support over the past 38 years, with the city’s Mayor Ron Nirenberg making remarks to accept the honor.


Guests enjoyed music by Volcan while sipping on the Gala’s signature cocktail drink, The Three Rubies, an original recipe created by resident Chef Dave Terrazas. Guests made their way to dinner at the Lucille Halsell Conservatory, with dinner provided by the RK Group. Danny Cuellar with Danesa and Alex Woehrle of Trinity Flowers provided the floral décor. Mariachi Las Alteñas, known for their musical diversity that appeals to crowds of all generations, provided additional entertainment for the event along with DJ Sound Cream later in the evening.


THE STYLE: Guests walked through a newly designed Garden entrance and the Mays Family Display Garden. On their way to the Family Adventure Garden where the cocktail reception was held, guests were greeted by the Children Vegetable Garden kids. The event supports the Botanical Garden’s mission to inspire people to connect with the plant world and understand the importance of plants in the city residents’ lives.


THE PURPOSE:  Linda and Jack Gunter  and Bette and Jack Vexler served as the gala’s chairs, while Danny Cuellar, Danesa and Alex Woehrle, Magdalena and Raul Gaona, Jr., MD, and Andrea Pichler served as the Creative Committee co-chairs. Amy Cox chaired the event’s raffle. The gala’s proceeds provides generous support of Fund the Bus programs that enables the organization to serve nearly 10,000 children through school field trips, children’s vegetable garden program, family events, and nature walks.


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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.

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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.

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