Society / Featured Parties

Inside a $1.6 Million Houston Night — This Tiger Ball Brings a Roaring Record-Setting Dazzle for the Asia Society

BY // 03.18.22

Since its opening in April of 2012, architect Yoshio Taniguchi’s spectacular Asia Society Texas Center has earned international acclaim for its understated elegance and serenity that combines architectural influences of East and West. That milestone in the history of the center was magnificently celebrated during the Tiger Ball, the Asia Society’s annual salute to the many riches of Asia.

While the original opening gala was held within the 40,000 square foot center, many of the subsequent Tiger Balls have been held in lavish tents erected in the adjacent parking lot. Such was the scene at the most recent fundraiser that in the hands of chairs Leigh and Reggie Smith and Tripp Carter raised a record $1.6 million.

Before we go any further, we must mention Leigh Smith’s dazzling diamond and ruby earrings on loan from Harry Winston.

“Thank you Harry Winston for being a generous sponsor of Asia Society, aligning with the goal to inspire empathy, advance cultural exchange and foster a better understanding of our interconnected world,” she posted on Instagram. “As one small part of their support, I was deeply honored to wear these stunning Harry Winston earrings, a true ‘red carpet’ experience!”

Rather than celebrate a specific country as is often tradition, the 2022 chairs declared it a pan-Asian fête for which national dress and gowns in red were considered acceptable attire on this otherwise black-tie evening.

Remarkable transformation of the parking lot was in the hands of Bergner & Johnson‘s Rebekah Johnson who embraced the Tiger Ball chairs’ challenge to guests to dress in red by wrapping the vast tent in swaths of red lighting and fabric along with robust florals that included soaring explosions of forsythia and gilded floral orbs swaying overhead. Oak trees which pepper the parking lot were hung with floating candles and up-lighted in red creating a majestic setting for the 650 guests. The pièce de résistance in the decor was the resplendent water wall which was topped with forsythia branches and featured a gently rising mist. The vignette was intended to mimic the Texas Center’s Water Garden Terrace.

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Tiger Ball 2022
Eddie Allen & Chinhui Juhn
(Photo by Emily Jaschke)

Prior to the Tiger Ball festivities in the tent, VIPs including honorary chairs Nancy Allen and Anne and Albert Chao gathered in the center for a champagne toast. Asia Society Texas Center president Bonna Kohl presented the trio with special awards recognizing their longstanding contributions to the center. Created by artist Michael Aram, the unique pieces featured black irises which are symbolic of wisdom, courage and admiration.

The pre-function also recognized three Trailblazers in honor of the 10th anniversary — visual artist Tiffany Chung, astronaut Soichi Noguchi, and University of Houston System chancellor and UH president Renu Khator.

Dance of Asian America launched the tented festivities, performing during the cocktail hour that found guests so exuberant a it was a challenge to have all seated for the City Kitchen dinner that featured a seared miso-glazed sea bass with white soy and red pepper threads, accompanied by forbidden rice and heirloom cauliflower with mustard seeds and ginger. Dancing followed dinner with spins by DJ ALX of Karma DJs..

PC Seen: Kathy and Glen Gondo, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Sushila and Durga Agrawal, Sultana and Moez Mangalji, Kathy and Marty Goossen, Ann and Jay Cuclis, Lily and Charles Foster, Lynn Wyatt,Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Janae and Kenny Tsai, Melanie Lawson and John Guess, Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, Shazma and Arshad Matin, Duyen and Marc Nguyen, Ileana and Michael Trevino, and Cabrina and Steven Owsley.

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