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Reenergized Houston Best Dressed Raises $1 Million In One Afternoon, Puts Sophisticated Fashion and True Difference Makers Centerstage

PaperCity Philanthropy Rocks the Post Oak Hotel

BY // 09.22.23

By all accounts, the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Houston Best Dressed luncheon was a rollicking success. The event at the Post Oak Hotel by the numbers: 650 guests, 40 runway looks from Pamella Roland, 20 models, three co-chairs, 10 honorees and $1 million in the coffers for March of Dimes.

It was a sweet return for this writer who was involved in the Best Dressed fundraiser during my 18 years at the Houston Chronicle, many of those years introducing the honorees at the luncheon. With the newspaper making the decision to no longer sponsor the event, PaperCity was honored to be invited by March of Dimes to join the effort with Neiman Marcus and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Chairs Kelley Lubanko, Stephanie Tsuru and Kelli Weinzierl with March of Dimes' Kemah Blair at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Chairs Kelley Lubanko, Stephanie Tsuru and Kelli Weinzierl with March of Dimes’ Kemah Blair at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

And so it was that Neiman Marcus’ brand experience manager Heather Almond and I had the privilege of introducing the honorees to the packed hotel ballroom. In addition to reciting their philanthropic contributions to the city, (you can read about them here), we were able to add a bit of personal fun to the intros.

First time honoree Zane Carruth, wearing Oscar de la Renta, beamed not only for the honor but also for the fact the we touted her award winning children’s book, The World’s First Tooth Fairy . . . Ever, now at No. 4 in the series, and the news that Neiman Marcus will begin carrying pajamas themed after the book in the firm’s Books to Bed initiative. Those PJs launch mid-October in selected stores and online.

Chairs Kelley Lubanko, Stephanie Tsuru and Kelli Weinzierl with March of Dimes' Kemah Blair at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Pamella Roland, Preston Antonini at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Julie Longoria Chen, wearing Dior, had a table of cheering fans waving her image on handheld placards. Husband Stephen Chen, equally thrilled, was among the supporters of this first time Houston Best Dressed honoree.

Wearing a Simone Rocha dress from her closet, second time honoree Tatiana Massey shared with the group that the designer, whom she carried in her boutique Laboratoria, had just been named designer for Jean Paul Gaultier’s next collection. Quite the honor.

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Honoree Sneha Merchant wearing Pamella Roland at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Honoree Sneha Merchant wearing Pamella Roland at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

While all the honorees were smashing in their runway looks, Sneha Merchant starred in her Pamella Roland strapless romper. We gave a shoutout to the second time Best Dressed honoree for her avocation. She is a talented mixed media artist.

Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell, styling in a strapless Pamella Roland, was grateful that we didn’t ask her to sing as she did a few hears back at a Houston Astros game but we did recommend her Instagram account where you can see and hear her talents, paling by comparison with her commitment to the community which earned her a second spin in Best Dressed ranks.

Honoree Duyen Nguyen at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Honoree Duyen Nguyen at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

For Duyen Nguyen the outfit chosen for her fashion-forward runway ensemble by AKNVAS was the same brand that her twin daughters modeled for designer Christian Juul Nielsen during the recent New York Fashion Week. All four daughters are as stunning as their mother, who makes her second appearance in Best Dressed.

Kathryn Smith, wearing Akris, has been such a stalwart of community involvement that we can’t believe she hasn’t been honored previously. When asked to list the events that she has chaired or co-chaired, there were 18 charitable fundraisers in her history. We corrected that oversight by including her as a first time honoree.

Entering the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame, Hallie Vanderhider added even more to her generous philanthropy on this day by making a $25,000 matching pledge. As is her wont at events she attends, Vanderhider purchased the top tier runway table for the luncheon. She and Pamella Roland are good friends so no surprise that she wore Roland for the luncheon.

Best Dressed honorees wearing Pamella Roland with the designer at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Best Dressed honorees wearing Pamella Roland with the designer at the PaperCity Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed luncheon (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

Kelli Weinzierl is another one with such an abundant CV of charitable involvement, we are glad that she too makes her debut among the Houston Best Dressed. This was a first in two ways for Weinzierl and one for March of Dimes. Wearing an Andrew Gn cocktail dress for her role as luncheon co-chair, she changed into an Etro suit for her runway presentation. A co-chair and honoree combo hasn’t been done before. We loved it.

Also new to the Best Dressed spotlight was Neiman Marcus vice president and general manager Preston Antonini, newly arrived from his previous post at Bloomingdale’s in California. He introduced the Pamella Roland fashion presentation and presented the Best Dressed Awards to the honorees.

PaperCity’s reporting on the Houston Best Dressed Luncheon and Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation Benefiting March of Dimes isn’t over. Check back at PaperCity.com on Monday to see who wore what to the million dollar fundraiser. And check out the complete special series on the Houston Best Dressed — which features on each of the honorees — and more here.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - Philanthropy in Fashion Best Dressed
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