Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Best Dressed Women Take Their Long Awaited Bows at a $1.44 Million Tony’s Frolic

Postponed Twice But Just as Stylish as Ever

BY // 11.05.21
photography Priscilla Dickson

The swans glided into Tony’s midday Thursday for a stunning luncheon that celebrated, in many ways, the best of Houston. The cadre of women, all dressed to the nines, and sprinkling of well-suited men had come for one of Tony’s swell meals and a celebration of the 2020 (and inadvertently 2021) Best Dressed honorees.

Despite having been postponed twice and pivoting from a ballroom extravaganza to, by comparison, an intimate gathering, the lunching honoring the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed femmes and luncheon benefiting March of Dimes exceeded all expectations by raising a record $1.44 million.

Really big applause for luncheon chairs Brigitte Kalai and Alicia Smith, who had been tapped as chairs two years ago yet persevered to bring in the remarkable funds. Congratulations also to Rosemary (aka Rosemoney) Schatzman for her extraordinary fundraising skills.

In a saga typical of the pandemic stories, the Best Dressed honorees were introduced at the annual announcement party at Neiman Marcus — in October of 2019 on the same night that the Houston Astros were pitted against the Washington Nationals in Game 6 of that World Series. The luncheon had been scheduled for March 2020. COVID intervened and that was that.

3W6A2797 (Photo by Jenny Antill Clifton)
Heather Almond, Kemah Blair-Flores, Jen Torres at the Best Dressed luncheon held at Tony’s, benefiting March of Dimes and hosted by Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)

On that glorious fall evening taking bows were Greggory Burk, named a Hall of Fame inductee; those making the list twice Estela Cockrell and Hallie Vanderhider and newcomers Ann Ayre, Alice Mao Brams, Gaynell Drexler, Melissa Juneau, Joanna Hartland Marks, Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell and Leigh Smith.

Not all honorees made the Tony’s luncheon but with a new lead sponsor, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the interim format, the event was by all accounts a splendid success. We must applaud Donna Vallone, chef Austin Waiter and Tony’s staff for the impeccable meal and perfect service which was delivered beautifully despite the fact that the clutch ordered from the set menu practically all at once.

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While Neiman Marcus forewent the runway fashion show that typically highlights the annual luncheon, the team including vice president and general manager Chris Hendel and Heather Almond, Neiman’s public relations and events manager, shared in the joy of the midday fête.

The beautifully orchestrated luncheon was hosted by Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in its new partnership as lead sponsor for the event. Anne Neeson, Memorial Hermann Foundation CEO and Memorial Hermann Health System executive vice president, led the program that featured a tear-infused testimonial from Lindsay Garcia, who faced a premature birth trauma which was successfully treated at the hospital. Her healthy 12-year-old son Kai was among those attending.

Heads-up, Best Dressed aspirationals. The Houston Chronicle, Neiman Marcus, March of Dimes and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital are all onboard to continue the Best Dressed tradition into 2022 and beyond. We can’t wait to see who will make the coveted 2022 list.

PC Seen: March of Dimes senior executive director — Texas Jen Torres; Houston Chronicle senior editor for features Melissa Aguilar, who introduced the honorees; Lynn Wyatt, Amanda Boffone, Cynthia Allshouse, Kelley Lubanko, Valerie Dieterich, Yvonne Cormier, Lilly Andress, Vicki West, Phoebe Tudor, Phyllis Williams, Sippi Khurana, Sneha Merchant, Ileana Trevino, Laurie Krohn, and a host of Memorial Hermann Health System doctors and senior staff.

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