Society / The Seen

Disco Cowgirls Descend on Fort Worth’s River Crest Country Club for the Desert Rose

When Runway Meets Rodeo

BY // 09.28.23
photography Sharon Ellman

Two cities, both alike in dignity, In fair DFW where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. This is the most dramatic lede from a native Dallasite who is dealing with big feelings because, as it turns out, I kind of love Fort Worth?

We pulled up to the River Crest Country Club at 10:45 am. The nine of us — Dallas gals by birth, fate, or marriage — climbed out of the Sprinter van we had chartered for the occasion, as if it was an actual road trip instead of a 40-minute drive down a singular highway. Admittedly, the looks were a lot for, well, morning. Metallic cowboy boots and La Vie Style House caftans covered in sequins. A gold tinsel Alice + Olivia jacket thrown over the shoulders because the fringed skirt simply wasn’t enough. 

A friend earnestly asked, “Have you ever worn sequins before 11 a.m. before?”

“Honestly?” I replied, “Yes.”

Pat Riley and Nic Sheridan (Photo by Sharon Ellman)
Pat Riley and Nic Sheridan (Photo by Sharon Ellman)

The occasion for a road trip to Cow Town and this level of extra? The Desert Rose Luncheon benefiting Fort Worth’s National Cowgirl Museum. Upping the ante? Co-chairs Sainty Nelsen and Lorene Agather opted for a “disco cowgirl” theme for the third annual lunch and fashion show. Where you lead, we will follow.

A human disco ball with an effervescent personality, Nelsen wore a bouncy dress of sparkly silver paillettes. Agather, who is bona fide Fort Worth rodeo royalty as the youngest daughter of JPMorgan badass Elaine Agather, wore a crisp white button-down from Pinto Ranch, trimmed in rhinestone stars and paired with a metallic silver skirt and retro-inspired Miron Crosby boots. A pink sequin Chanel flap bag, “on loan from Mom,” completed the look. 

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Clearly, accessories aren’t the only thing the mother/daughter duo share. As Nelsen underscored, calling her co-chair the “CEO of her life,” the Agather ladies get things done. Within a month of announcing the event’s details, the luncheon was sold out (with sponsorship tiers named after museum inductees like “Patsy,” “Reba,” and “Miranda”). Nelsen and Agather called the cowgirls, and the cowgirls came.

Broadway performer Ryah Nixon (Photo by Sharon Ellman)
Broadway performer Ryah Nixon (Photo by Sharon Ellman)

“As someone that has spent much of my life on I-30 driving between two great cities, it was overwhelming to see the support for this event,” Agather reflected. “Although the cities are so close, it takes effort to show up. In my experience, true cowgirls show up, and that is what they did!”

Prior to the luncheon, guests shopped a thoughtfully curated market of local vendors, from Lela Rose and Dondolo to Colores Collective, Bauble Stockings, and a limited edition National Cowgirl Museum scarf designed by Tara Roma Gill. (The siren song of a pair of Brent Neale lemon earrings called me to the jewelry booth until I saw the sobering price tag, even as the serpent on my shoulder whispered, “But it’s for charity…”)

Fittingly, a cowbell herded the crowd upstairs for lunch. The feed? A chilled autumnal soup to manifest fall and a grilled chicken salad elevated with the addition of a Sardinian couscous. 

To the delight of everyone in the audience, Nelsen welcomed Broadway star Ryah Nixon (who most recently starred in the Britney Spears-inspired Once Upon a One More Time), who surprised the audience with an energetic performance of Dolly Parton’s iconic “9 to 5.” The blood did, in fact, start pumping, which served as a perfect way to commence the fashion show. Each model’s look masterfully integrated pieces from the market vendors in an organic and approachable way. 

I asked Agather, who credits her mother with her love of the National Cowgirl Museum and the women whose stories it tells, how she defines a cowgirl.

Trying on Miron Crosby boots at the 2023 Desert Rose Luncheon (Photo by Sharon Ellman)
Trying on Miron Crosby boots at the 2023 Desert Rose Luncheon. (Photo by Sharon Ellman)

“I define a cowgirl based on their spirit and tenacity,” Agather said. “Cowgirls were at the forefront of shaping the West. With their perseverance and trailblazing mentality, they created what we all appreciate today.”

“In the modern west,” she continued, “us cowgirls are doing the same. We are breaking down walls, building new landscapes, and forging our own path. We are striving for a better present and a better future. We might be a tad glitzier (and have less dirt under our nails!), but we are all cut from the same cloth!”

Giddy up. 

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