Society / Featured Parties

Simone Biles, Her Athlete Boyfriend and Carl Lewis Give This Houston Fashion Night Real Olympic Power

Una Notte in Italia Gala Ups the Ante on Big Names

BY // 11.23.21

Serious sports fans couldn’t help but be gob smacked at the Una Notte in Italia gala benefiting Children at Risk. Although not walking the fashion runway with fellow sports greats, Olympian Simone Biles was certainly one of the stars of the night on the arm of her beau former Houston Texan Jonathan Owens, who did make the fashion parade. And there was another hometown Olympian favorite Carl Lewis.

Lewis, a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame and current University of Houston coach, received a standing ovation as he strode the runway in a suede jacket, slacks and turtleneck from Festari for Men, fashion provider and force behind the annual fundraiser. This year was particularly special, noted honorary chair Debbie Festari, not only for the record proceeds of $428,000 but also by the fact that it was sold out, all 500 places, eight weeks before invitations were printed.

Joining Lewis in the spotlight at the Royal Sonesta Hotel were Houston Dynamo players Zarek Valentin and Tim Parker and the SabercatsKen Nasoqeqe, all dressed to the nines by Rudy Festari. Not on the runway but a presence at a runway table was Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.

Applause, applause for chairs Melissa Holman Juneau and Jennifer Pinkerton who helmed the evening that included a display of Rolls Royce vehicles from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars North Houston and a tequila tasting provided by Veneno Tequila.

As is tradition, the sports figures were joined by notable businessmen, all of whom paraded the catwalk to the sounds of their favorite music. Also tradition is the raucous reception for each of the gents. Confetti, glitter and flowers, even faux $100 bills showered down on the models as they strutted their stuff to cheers and applause. Among them were Jonathan Zadok, Adrian Duenas, Al Lindseth, Moez Mangalji, Dr. Matthew Brams and Stephen Chen.

L to R_Jeff and Rachel Bagwell, Lucinda Loya, Rudy Festari, Javier Loya_ PC Daniel Ortiz
Jeff & Rachel Bagwell, Lucinda Loya, Rudy Festari, Javier Loya at Una Notte in Italia at the Royal Sonesta Hotel (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)

PC Seen: Emcee Johnny Bravo, Dominique Sachse, Rachel Bagwell, Frances Moody Buzbee & Tony Buzbee, Hallie Vanderhider, Gary Petersen, Adam Tesanovich, Lori Hood, Ally Shell and Martin Van Koolwijk, Melissa and Michael Mithoff, Nicole and James Lassiter, Dr. Monica Patel, Tiffany and Randall Wong, and Courtney Hopson.

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