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Houston’s New Home Design Palace Debuts With an 18th-Century Party That Almost Defies Imagination

Welcome to Versailles With Moxie Style

BY // 03.01.19

“18th century to yesterday, it’s what we sell and how we play!,” read the invitation emblazoned with coiling serpents and baroque flourishes to celebrate the relaunch of Houston home design store Moxie. The mecca for all things interiors is far from a temple to minimalism.

Instead, 15 newly designed rooms, more akin to opulent stage sets than spaces for mere commerce, are arrayed throughout the 8,500 square-foot storefront sited along West Alabama.

Proprietor Dennis Brackeen and his talented partners in decor — Blake Karambis, Linda Chan and Jenna McPhail — made for four fabulous hosts. The over-the-top evening recalled the salons of 18th-century France; the Sun King and grandees Louis XV and Louis XVI would have been right at home, as would Madame Pompadour and Marie Antoinette.

Minus those royals, there was nonetheless one in sight — that would be Prince Poppycock, in from Los Angeles for the evening. The America’s Got Talent crooner and performance artist was among the highlights of a fête as extraordinary as it was extravagant. (See Prince Poppycock’s AGT audition that changed his life and dazzled the judges here.)

God is in the details; this night’s were sublime. No party planner would do — and there are many talented ones in Texas — to realize Moxie’s vision for its fabled debut.

Brackeen told PaperCity, “I’m way too much of a control freak to hire an event planner! I planned every detail and personally created every floral arrangements, selected the costumes and re-embellished them to fit our 18th-century/today theme… it was well worth it.”

Setting the Stage

The French court of the 1700s was invoked, from the moment guests strolled in, with brocaded footmen and pompadour-haired ladies-in-waiting — all so Versailles worthy.  This cleverly costumed cast ushered in a truly enchanting evening that also felt like one of the grand dress-up parties from times past.

Adorned himself in splendid  finery — a Dolce & Gabbana crimson jacket accented by a Dolce golden brooch — Brackeen enlisted Heaven and Earth to carry out his elaborate vision for catering. Think sumptuous food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres that were as rarified and tasty, as they were ornate, down to the pastel-hued confections of miniature cupcakes and matching macarons.

Rémy Cointreau sponsored the cognac quaffs, accented by passed cigars borne upon silver platters. Champagne flowed, natch, from beautiful crystal flutes.

For music, three talents reigned: DJ Gonz; the classically inclined Carya String Quartet; and as the grande headliner, the aforementioned Prince Poppycock, who wowed and rocked Moxie with his renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody, and Gaga mega hit, The Edge of Glory.

Poppycock’s captivating talent — not for sedate audiences — was paired with his signature 18th-century wardrobe, down to fluttering marabou fan, towering rose-colored wig, and painted maquillage to rival Marie Antoinette.

Before and after this surprise guest, the decor-minded crowd explored room vignettes, posed and took selfies among lacquered and exquisitely designed settings of grandeur and importance. Amidst Moxie’s highly original mix of design, antiques, art, and architectural flourishes, the crowd — as unique as the jaw-dropping interiors — frolicked and partied on.

Grandees of Design: Beauty maven Janet Gurwitch and pal, Susanne Dawley Byram, who’s tapped Brackeen for a fabulous design scheme at her manse; John and Becca Cason Thrash; designer Ann Wolf and husband Mathew, whose pedigreed home appears in PaperCity‘s March Design + Art issue; Marnie Greenwood with Ceron, taking a turn on the step-and-repeat: a fleet of top interior designers including Jerry Jeanmard and Lauren Hudson of Wells Design, Melinda James, Garrett Hunter, Katie ScottCatherine Badger, Chelsea Cunningham McDermott, LeTricia Wilbanks, Jon GreenMary Patton, and Catherine Viviano with architect/son and biz partner Michael Viviano; and BeDesign’s Adrián Dueñas and Marcelo Saenz, with colleague Wendee Lee Curtis.

Also making the mise en scène: Leigh and Reggie Smith; Sabiha RehmatullaSofia Gambara and husband, BBVA Compass honcho Pepe Olalla; Brackeen’s family including mom Diane Blair in from Tyler, aunt Marie Childress, partner Moxie’s Juan Vazquez, daughter McKenzie Brackeen, and son Jordan Brackeen and his wife Eva in from Dallas; Irene Chan (mom to Linda Chan), taking a turn foretelling fortunes; architect and author Ben KoushRyan Reitmeyer of Retorra; Liz Marsh, whose coveted lamps and art are carried at Moxie; Hines’ George Lancaster, board chair of Stages, coming off the theater’s epic gala the night before; Duyen and Marc Nguyen; Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-DahlMichael Mandola; Danielle Cullen; Rémy Cointreau’s Staci Delesandi-Monahan; Perry’s Steakhouse exec Lesa Sorrentino; and members of the art set including gallerists María Inés SicardiMónica Hernández Goins, Barbara Davis, Heidi Vaughan, and Apama Mackey, joined by cultural curator India Lovejoy, and artists Robert Hodge, Thedra Cullar-Ledford, Tyler Deauvea, and Hazel Ganze.

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