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Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s Most Beautiful Gala Ever Turns Into a $2.3 Million Night

79,000 Flowers Set Stage for Record-Breaking, Harvey-Defying Event

BY // 10.08.17
photography Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com

Without an ounce of hyperbole, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow beamed as he pronounced Friday night’s Grand Gala Ball an extraordinary success — on several levels. “It is safe to say that there has never ever been a more beautiful room and beautiful women in beautiful dresses by Oscar de la Renta than tonight,” he said.

Indeed, the tableau of 79,000 flowers dancing through soaring backdrops of fresh boxwood and the swans preening in stunning designer gowns created a scene of rare opulence in the museum’s Cullinan Hall. Beyond the grandeur, there was more.

The evening, Tinterow said, “has enhanced our museum and our gala breaking all records, raising $2.3 million and providing a splendid and beautiful recess after the travails (referencing Hurricane Harvey) our city has endured.”

With gala chairs Cherie Flores‘ love of flowers and gardening and her energy mogul husband Jim Flores‘ financial largesse, the ball celebrating “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” exhibition will certainly prevail indefinitely, unmatched in sheer glamour and monetary success. The bar has been raised.

Cherie Flores, an award-winning gardener in her own right, tapped Richard Flowers and The Events Company to turn her vision of a splendid floral setting, a nod to de la Renta’s penchant for gardens, into reality. Bowing to the designer’s love of color, she focused on a fuschia theme. Flowers allowed that 9,000 stems of the phalaenopsis (or butterfly) orchids were graced tabletops and appeared to explode in the massive centerpiece in the museum foyer.

Rounding out the floral abundance were hydrangeas and roses, including a rose wall that served as backdrop for resplendent party portraits.

Holiday Gifting

  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Cotton Club
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Elaine Turner - GiGi Flats
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Elaine Turner - Felicia Stole in Magenta
  • Wayne Smith
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Asher Gallery
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Wayne Smith
  • Cotton Club

Special guests included ODLR CEO Alex Bolen, his wife Eliza Bolen and her mother and Oscar de la Renta’s widow Annette de la Renta. But none could match the attention paid to the imperial Andre Leon Talley, curator of the ODLR exhibition, author of a retrospective on the designer and Vogue contributing editor.

While the Flores duo provided underwriting for the lavish decor and exceptional French wines accompanying the City Kitchen dinner, also recognized for their extraordinary support of the evening were Shahla and Hushang Ansary, Mindy and Jeff Hildebrand, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Janice and Bob McNair and Susan and Fayez Sarofim.

While some consideration was given to canceling the gala in light of Hurricane Harvey, the importance of the fundraising effort, which supports the museum’s capital fund, and the desire to take a break from the seriousness of recovery, the powers that be opted to celebrate the irrepressible spirit of Houston and the generosity of those who have come to the table in aid of the city.

“Houstonians are resilient. They are strong. They are survivors. They are never going to be held down,” Cherie Flores said. The Louisiana native added, “I am so proud to be a Houstonian. We needed an antidote to the storm.”

The ball chair was one of many paying sartorial tribute to Oscar de la Renta, she wearing an original gown in fuschia by the Oscar de la Renta design team of Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia.

Dames in Oscar gowns swirled and twirled across the museum as the band Powerhouse ignited the dance floor. Check back on Wednesday for a review of the ball gowns on display.

Who: Laurie and Reed Morian, Lynn Wyatt, Ann and Leslie Doggett, Diane Lokey Farb, Karol and Paul Barnhart, Sara Dodd, Gregory Fourticq, Linda and Dr. Walter McReynolds, Mary Tere and Ricardo Perusquia, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, Jessica Schmidt and Tom Roupe, Jeanie Kilroy Wilson and Wally Wilson, Lora and Dr. John Clemmons, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Carol and Mike Linn, Ann and John Bookout, Cheryl and Percy Cruezot, Mary and John Eads and on and on.

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