By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Sterling Coats and Haley Plotkin

Center for Child Protection’s Play Bingo Dazzles

The crowd at PLAYBINGO

THE SETTING: A beautiful fall afternoon was the recent setting for one of the city’s most anticipated fall competitions. Not U.T. Football, yet rather bingo. A sold-out crowd featuring 1,200 of the city’s most notable sociables, philanthropists and VIP descended upon the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Austin for the 19th Annual PlayBingo Ladies Luncheon for a day of fun, prizes, and most of all…fundraising.

Belinda Hannah, Keely Dall, Michelle Atkins, Lyn Vogt, Jamie Sorrentino, Amy Beard, Anne Doctor, Christol Farris, Dillon Womack, Gerri Skutta and Jennesa McBride

THE STYLE: The festive-chic attire created a welcoming environment for all who attended. Before the main event, revelers were able to peruse the over 125 silent auction items up for bid which included fine jewelry, designer handbags, items from local merchants, vacation packages, and much more. In the crowd, many coordinated outfits were spotted as many dressed in specific themes with their tablemates.

Melissa Cason

The festivities then moved into the ballroom to PlayBingo. Emcee Jim Spencer effortlessly kept things moving a brisk, fun pace as the games were played. In total, eight games were played with the winners taking home prizes from such luxury brands as Neiman Marcus, Lake Austin Spa & Resort, and Diptyque. Guests left the venue wanting more and already brimming with anticipation for the 20thanniversary of the beloved event next year.

Silent Auction items

THE PURPOSE: The event, hosted by the Friends of Christopher Guild, raised over $1 million for The Center for Child Protection. Funds raised from the event will go towards providing services including forensics, therapy, medical and educational services for abused children as well as children who have witnessed violent crimes.



Celebration of Film Star-Studded 65th Anniversary Gala Features Meryl Streep Honoring Robert DeNiro

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Vivie Behrens, Rick Kern and Pete Smith

THE SETTING: The AT&T Center and the Harry Ransom Center, both on The University of Texas campus, were the recent setting of a legendary night for the ages. Over 500 sociables, film lovers, and philanthropists turned out for the Harry Ransom Center’s 65th Anniversary gala, and several hundred more joined in the fun at a lively after party capping off the evening. Touching tributes and words from two of the greatest actors of the past half-century were also featured.


THE STYLE: The black tie clad crowd began the evening at the AT&T Center by posing for photos on the step and repeat, then descended the escalator to join hundreds of other eager guests for a fabulous cocktail hour. Film aficionados sipped on their favorite spirits and brimmed with anticipation of the festivities to come…and to be in the room with two cinematic legends to boot.


The festivities then continued in the main ballroom for the program and presentation. The crowd was wowed as they entered the elegantly designed room with a mix of beautiful florals and cinematic props. As partygoers dined on their delicious, multi-course meals, they were treated to words from the Harry Ransom Center and University of Texas leaders.


Next came the main event of honoring Robert DeNiro. After being treated to a touching tribute by celebrated film critic Leonard Maltin, Academy AwardÓ-winning Actress Meryl Streep took to the podium. Guests could hear a pin drop in the room as Streep regaled the crowd by sharing warm and touching stories highlighting her and DeNiro’s five-decade-long friendship. Capping off the main gala were words by cinematic legend DeNiro himself, who expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Harry Ransom Center for archiving his impressive collection of works and artifacts, many of which mirrored pop culture trends of the last 50 years. Upon completing his speech, the crowd gave the cinematic legend a standing ovation.


After the gala, revelers walked or took rickshaws one block away to the Harry Ransom Center, where the after party was in full swing. Guests could preview the Robert DeNiro archive at the Harry Ransom Center, which included multiple Oscars on display. Photography lovers also had the opportunity to view The Writers: Portraits by Laura Wilson, an exhibit highlighting photographs of many influential modern writers. This once-in-a-lifetime, special night will be talked about for those fortunate enough to be a part of it for years to come.


THE PURPOSE: While the gala did not have designated chairs, the after party was co-hosted by Laura Wilson, Andrew Wilson, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson. Funds raised from the evening will benefit the Harry Ransom Center, a world-renowned institution that archives work from the world’s foremost writers, performers, and artists. Near the end of DeNiro’s speech, he perfectly summed up the mission of the organization, “One of the most important things about the Harry Ransom Center is that the materials will be accessible to students and the public. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.”



Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Central Texas Hosts 18th Annual Ice Ball

By Rob Giardinelli         Photography by Chris Caselli and Gypc Girl Photography

THE SETTING: The JW Marriott in Austin was the recent setting of an event that kicked off the fall social season in grand style. Over 750 of the Capital City’s charitable philanthropists turned out for the 18th annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Ice Ball. It was an evening that dazzled its guests and will be well remembered, and spoken fondly of, for a long time.


THE STYLE: The black tie crowd began the evening in the ballroom foyer of the JW Marriott for cocktail hour. As revelers sipped cocktails, they had the opportunity to peruse silent auction items, participate in a game of Buried Treasure, where the winner received a pave diamond circle necklace, and pose for photos in front of the event’s grand signature ice sculpture.


The festivities then moved to the ballroom for the main program. Emcee, KVUE-TV’s Quita Culpepper effortlessly kept the evening moving at a fun, brisk pace. While partygoers dined on a multi-course meal, they were treated to a series of heartwarming testimonials on how Big Brothers Big Sisters has positively impacted the Central Texas community. The evening was capped off by a round of live fundraising, which included a head or tails auction, Fund-A-Friendship paddles up, and the spirited live auction with a host of experiences such as a tour of Sonoma wineries, a skiing adventure in Park City, and an Italian getaway on the Amalfi coast.


THE PURPOSE: The event, chaired by Albert and Sarah Swantner, raised over $930,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. Funds from the event will go toward programs that help create life-changing relationships between adult mentors and at-risk youth between the ages of six and 16, which allows them to reach their full potential.



ZACH Scott Theatre’s Red Hot & Soul Gala Features Black And White Theme

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Charles Quinn Photography

THE SETTING: The Zachary Scott Theatre was the recent setting for one of the city’s most anticipated fundraisers. Over 400 philanthropists, art lovers, and VIPs turned out for the theatre’s annual Red, Hot & Soul event, an evening of fun, camaraderie, and showstopping performances those fortunate enough to attend will not soon forget.


THE STYLE: The curtains rose on the black tie affair in the lobby of ZACH’s Topfer Theatre for cocktails. Patrons of the event embraced the black and white theme, a nod to Truman Capote’s 1966 Party of the Century…with many spectacular black and white ensembles spotted among the dashing crowd. During the cocktail hour, partygoers reacquainted with old friends and made new ones while sipping on their favorite cocktails in anticipation of the fun ahead.


The festivities then moved to the al fresco Bobbi Pavilion on the ZACH Theatre grounds for the main program. As revelers dined on the multi-course meal, they were treated to dazzling performances by several of ZACH’s most beloved performers, as well as performances from ZACH’s Children’s Academy. Additionally, Austin philanthropists Eric and Maria Groten were honored for their tireless work and support of the beloved theatre that has been a part of the Austin community fabric for over a century.


Next came a spirited live auction with a host of dazzling packages. Highlights of the auction included a Pick Your Paradise package where the winner got the pick of a breathtaking getaway to one of three different continents, another was dinner on the theatre stage, and a mountain escape to Park City were among the most popular. The evening’s finale was a spectacular after party where guests danced the night away on the Topfer Theatre stage. Encore!


THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Cindy Greenwood and Kathy Taylor, raised over $600,000 for ZACH Scott Theatre. Each year, ZACH Scott’s community programs provide outreach and educational opportunities and offer access to theatrical performances to over 125,000 Central Texans, 55,000 of whom are children and youth.




The Domain Hosts Starlight Soirée with Special Musical Guest Plush

By Rob Giardinelli     Photography by Ready Set Jet Set

Holidays at The Domain Austin

THE SETTING: The Domain in Austin was the recent setting where several hundred turned out for the shopping destination’s event, Starlight Soirée. Held on a picture-perfect autumn evening, it featured several hundred foodies, sociables and music lovers for good food, great company, and excellent music.

Fleming’s at The Domain Austin

THE STYLE: The Austin-chic crowd began the evening under the beautiful trees along Century Oaks Terrace. Guests were able to get into the spirit of the evening by sampling various cuisines and cocktails that The Domain offers to patrons every single day. Establishments such as Fleming’s really got into the spirit of the evening by having a different delectable morsel each hour with the first hour of the event by featuring a crab cake appetizer, the second hour featured a New York Strip and Tater Tots main course, and the final hour featuring a Chocolate Butter Cake for dessert.

Plush Performs

Additionally, partygoers shopped at favorite boutiques including Lily Pulitzer and Texas-based Kendra Scott, who generously donated a portion of sales during the evening to Ballet Austin. For those looking for a nice keepsake for the evening, a beautiful flower bouquet from Burlap and Twine was offered. The festivities were capped off by local band, Plush, whose show-stopping performance allowed revelers to dance the night away in the beautiful, fall air.

Burlap and Twine

THE PURPOSE: A portion of the funds raised from the evening benefited Ballet Austin. The critically acclaimed Ballet Austin, one of the fifteen largest ballet companies in the United States, features original performances including celebrating the 60th anniversary of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, where each individual performance features an Austin notable as Mother Ginger during the holiday season.