Una Notte Italia Gala For Chidren At Risk

By Jennifer Roosth                    Photography by  Quy Tran

THE SETTING: Over 500 guests gathered at the Royal Sonesta Hotel to celebrate one of the most anticipated annual events of the fall social season, Una Notte in Italia, benefitting Children at Risk. Italian and Continental style was prevalent as guests entered the venue. They viewed magnificent vehicles from car sponsor Rolls Royce Motor Cars North Houston, and enjoyed a premiere tasting provided by the popular Veneno Tequila. With pandemic protocol in place ,a silent auction and libations entertained guests before they made their way into the ballroom to enjoy all things Italian. There were fine wines, delicious food, and of course, the highlight of the evening…the philanthropic men and athletes who walked the runway for the cause.

THE STYLE: Fabulous fall fashions from Rudy Festari of Festari for Men adorned each gentleman as they danced to their favorite song. Popular Emcee Johnny Bravo and Honorary Chair Debbie Festari spoke to the accolades of each gentleman as they walked the catwalk. Some of the participants included Olympic great Carl Lewis, dynamo stars Zarek Valentin and Tim Parker, Sabercats Rugby player Ken Nasoqeqe, Houston Texans Jonathan Owen, businessmen Chad Pinkerton, and Moez Mangalji, and Dr. Matthew Brams, Stephen Chen, Bob Sanborn, Pablo Delgado, Adrian Duenas, Jonathan Zadok, Clayton Katz, Hugo Guerrero, Mark Theissen, and Al Lindseth, to name a few.  As usual, there were plenty of model face signs, and glitter and flowers were tossed as the crowd cheered for their favorite model. The evening was capped off with the most successful live auction in the event’s history.

THE PURPOSE: Co-chairs Melissa Holman Juneau and Jennifer Pinkerton, with Honorary Chair Debbie Festari, set a record for the gala raising over $438,000.00 on behalf of Children at Risk. The Una Notte in Italia “celebrity” men’s fashion show is always one of the most eagerly awaited galas, and this year was no different when it sold out eight weeks before invitations went to print. The organization helps to free children from the dangers of sex trafficking and exploitation.

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PetSet Celebrates With Virtual Gala Watch Party

By Jennifer Roosth      Photography by Quy Tran


THE SETTING: Even a global pandemic could not stop animal lovers’ kindness, as they rallied around a hybrid format of fundraising. Part virtual gala, part V.I.P. watch party on the much-loved Annie Café & Bar’s outdoor patio, PetSet’s first virtual Fierce and Fabulous Gala raised nearly $200,000 to support the Greater Houston area’s animal welfare groups.

THE STYLE: Animal lovers from Houston and across the country logged onto their device of choice to tune in to the soirée, hosted by Great Day Houston’s Deborah Duncan and Johnny Bravo Holloway. Meanwhile, Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist, Houston PetSet’s co-presidents, celebrated the occasion by hosting a small patio gathering at The Annie Café & Bar. Personalized touches such as food and beverages prepared by Event Elementz and styled by local non-profit design house, Magpies and Peacocks were delivered to the homes of donors to coincide with the event.


The virtual program also included special guest appearances by Dr. Stephen Klineberg, founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology, at Rice University, and America’s Got Talent Season 13 semi-finalist Christina Wells, who added an emotional touch to the show with her performances of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Mariah Carey’s Hero.


THE PURPOSE: The evening’s program kicked-off with a peek into the homes of supporters enjoying the watch parties across the city. The twin sisters then took the mic to thank their guests for joining them to support the cause. Together, the crowd of competitive contributors enjoyed the heartfelt program shining a light on positive animal welfare in Houston. This event not only marked a success for animal welfare but also showcased the resilience of the Houston fundraising community.


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Festari’s Una Notte Event Hosts Annual Event Supporting Houston Area Women’s Center

By Jennifer Roosth Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Quy Tran

THE SETTING: When over 600 guests attended the annual Una Notte in Italia, A Night in Italy, “celebrity” men’s fashion show and gala where philanthropic men and local athletes walk the runway on behalf of the charity, they knew they were in for a treat. The foyer and ballroom at the Omni Houston Hotel were draped in all things Italian, including elaborate topiaries, vines, candelabras, and a stunning backdrop on the runway with a handsome, contemporary image of Michelangelo’s David. Vibrant red roses and seasonal greenery provided beautiful framed photo ops as guests entered the gala before the big night.

THE STYLE: The fun-filled fête began with a lively cocktail hour that was complete with silent auction and premier bar along with specialty tequilas provided by Riazul. Once guests were seated in the ballroom, the handsome gents took to the catwalk in fabulous fashions provided by Rudy Festari of Festari for Men. The stellar line-up included Drs. Kota Reddy and Matthew Harbison, attorneys James Lassiter and Kent Schaffer, restauranteur Ben Berg, jewelers Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black, businessmen Rick Perez, Danny Brown, Nick Merchant, Bill Baldwin, and Pablo Delgado, to name a few.

The finale featured Houston Texans players Cullen Gillaspia, DJ Reader, and Justin Reid and Astros pitcher Lance McCullers and Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, as confetti and roses were thrown from the cheering crowd. Guests then enjoyed a multi-course Italian meal complete with Italian wines, of course, as the live auction began. To close the evening’s activities, guests made their way to the newly renovated Black Swan club within the hotel to dance the night away.

THE PURPOSE: The evening was emceed by television anchor Dominique Sachse, and was co-chaired by Rachel Bagwell and Sneha Merchant, with Debbie Festari serving as honorary chair. This year’s event raised close to $400,000 on behalf of Houston Area Women’s Center, an agency that provides hope and healing from the effects of domestic and sexual violence.


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