Society / Featured Parties

Million Dollar-Plus Houston Night Salutes Japan and Lynn Wyatt — Cherry Blossoms and Sake Make for an Elegant Scene

Asia Society's Tiger Ball Turns Into a Floral Wonderland

BY // 03.10.20
photography Daniel Ortiz

Cherry blossoms, sake and chopsticks. There could not have been a more vibrant marriage of cultural icons than that witnessed at Asia Society Texas Center’s “Tiger Ball.” The evening’s salute to Japan and Houston’s grande dame Lynn Wyatt soared across a lavish floral tableau that saw proceeds reach $1.34 million.

The annual soirée began with cocktails in Asia Society‘s celebrated home, the Museum District edifice designed by renowned Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. Guests entered the scene via a pink, as in cherry blossoms, carpet while the stirring beats of taiko drummers heralded their arrival. After bidding on auction items and touring the new Eternal Offerings exhibition, the record contingent of 725 guests, many sporting national dress, paraded across the street to the Asia Society parking lot that had been tented and dressed in swaths of cherry blossoms and armloads of white orchids.

“Tonight, we are honoring the most elegant woman in the city and honoring one of the most elegant countries in the world — Lynn Wyatt and Japan,” noted Marty Goossen, vice chairman of the J.P. Morgan Private Bank and president of JPMorgan Chase Bank – Houston Region, who chaired the gala with his wife, Kathy, and with Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh, president of Toky0-based Shin-Etsu Chemical.

The Goossens, having spent 28 years during his financial career in Asia including 14 in Tokyo, are knowledgeable fans of the Far East.

The couples were joined by a cadre of honorary chairs including Kathy and Glen Yoshiaki Gondo, Wendy and Jeff Hines, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Brenda and Marc Watts, Donna Fujimoto Cole, and Shota Kondo.

City Kitchen provided a user-friendly Japanese-inspired dinner complete with saki toasts and chopsticks while the national dress and grand decor served as elegant dinner setting. Dancing to the sounds of DJ Senega and dessert followed back in the main building.

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About those flowers: The cherry blossoms amid the table decor were fresh stems that had arrived by the truckload, allowed The Events Company honcho Richard Flowers, while the thousands of blossoms attached to the live oaks that peppered the parking lot cum swank pavilion were the best of faux. Among the exuberant floral displays were magnolia japonicas, fringed tulips, asclepias (milkweed) and spider tulips, numbering in total more than 10,000 blossoms. Origami-inspired cranes and white rice paper and feather lanterns hung from the ceiling in a further nod to Japanese culture.

PC Seen: Asia Society Texas Center executive director Bonna Kol, Nancy Allen, Kristy and Chris Bradshaw, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Duyen and Marc Nguyen, Sushila and Durga Agrawal, Anne and Albert Chao, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Lily and Charles Foster, Sultana and Moez Mangalji, Renu and Suresh Khator, Sue and Randy Sim, Margaret Alkek Williams, Leela and Nat Krishnamurthy, Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, Muffet Blake and Bob Murray, Francie Neely, and Nanako and Dale Tingleaf.

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