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Society / Featured Parties

Stars Align for Houston Ballet Ball’s Jaw-Dropping $1.6 Million Night

Record Setting Evening Brings Greek Mythology to Shimmering Life

BY // 02.12.19
photography Wilson Parish

“Heroes, Gods and Stars” was a propitious theme for the Houston Ballet Ball as the stars certainly aligned on Saturday night while the gods shined down on a spectacular evening that saw record proceeds of $1.6 million. The heroes, of course, were gala chairs Kelley and Stephen Lubanko and Leigh and Reggie Smith.

The gala theme was a nod to the ballet’s upcoming production of Sylvia, the mythical story of a Greek huntress/heroine, for which ballet artistic director Stanton Welch will showcase key figures from Greek mythology. Thus, guests partied beneath a canopy of constellations lighted on billowing mesh that floated from the clear roof of the elaborate party tent. (Guests so enjoyed last year’s tented ball, held next to the ballet’s Center for Dance, as opposed to the traditional Wortham Theater Grand Foyer, that the gala chairs decided to do it once again.)

In keeping with the celestial oeuvre, both Kelley Lubanko and Leigh Smith, BFFs, selected sparkling gowns for the magical evening — Lubanko in a celestial frock by Jenny Packham and Leigh Smith in an ephemeral Marchesa. For the occasion, each donned custom crowns inspired by the ballet. A number of other ladies jumped on this fashion bandwagon, wearing crowns and swanning in gowns that truly sparkled.

Among the show-stoppers were Diane Lokey Farb (who once again underwrote the band for the evening); Dominique Sachse in a form-fitting, semi-backless silvery confection; Duyen Nguyen channeling Grace Jones in a black, backless sequined gown with hoodie, Margaret Alkek Williams in shimmering emerald green (with a to-die-for suite of emeralds to match); and Anne Chao in a gown made from fabric that could literally been taken from the midnight skies.

Taking bows were honorees Leticia Loya (in a stunning Chanel haute couture gown) and Laura Robertson on behalf of ConocoPhillips of which she is deputy general counsel.

It was one of those see-and-be-seen nights that attracted even Mayor Sylvester Turner, who doesn’t always take time for the black-tie circuit. Welcoming him to the party were Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, who have underwritten Welch’s world premiere of Sylvia.

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Key to the evening’s financial success was Tenenbaum Jewelers, represented by Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black. The generous philanthropists, Houston Ballet preferred jewelry partner, donated 18 pieces to the silent auction including such must-haves as an 18K white gold aquamarine and diamond ring and a pair of 18k yellow gold diamond clip earrings.

The Events Company‘s jaw-dropping decor included gold acanthus leaf chandeliers dripping in hanging green amaranthus, shimmering table coverings, soaring candelabras, lavish centerpieces  in white florals and metallic-draped walls hung with hand-painted sketches of costumes from Sylvia. Gilded gods stood statue still and then posed for photos. Above it all, strands of blue LED fairy lights twinkled overhead creating a starry, starry night.

Guests enjoyed another not-t0-be resisted dinner from City Kitchen: Roasted duck and fig pie with salad of radishes, endive and arugula; a main course of seared sea bass with Thassos olive pesto and dill burre blanc, orzo risotto with lobster, eggplant roulades stuffed with spinach and gougeres with grilled manouri and black olives; and a dessert of vanilla panna cotta with kataifi, candied ginger and caramel sauce.

PC Seen: Houston Ballet managing director Jim Nelson, Lynn Wyatt, Allison and Troy Thacker, Hallie Vanderhider, Melissa Juneau, Holly and Austin Alvis, Ann Trammell, Anne and Albert Chao, Melza and Ted Barr, Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Jo and Jim Furr, Gina and Dr. Devinder Bhatia, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Jerry Ann Woodfin-Costa and Victor Costa, Jay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones, Beth Muecke, Jennifer Bosch, Beth and Nick Zdeblick, and Fady Armanious and Bill Baldwin.

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