Society / The Seen

The Ultimate Kentucky Derby Party Takes Over a Billionaire’s River Oaks Mansion: Wild Hats, Stunning Ladies and Seersucker Everywhere

BY // 05.08.18

We’ve been to Hermann Park Conservancy’s Hats in the Park luncheon. We’ve been to Easter Seals’ Hats Off to Mothers fundraiser. We’ve been to the River Oaks tennis tournament luncheon, which is a pretty smashing fashion event in itself. But we’ve never seen a more grand chapeau-driven tableau than Saturday’s Hats, Hearts & Horseshoes benefit on the grounds of Paige and Tilman Fertitta‘s River Oaks estate.

The added element that makes this Kentucky Derby day event so fashionably ebullient is the fact that the gents are as divinely attired as the ladies. We’ve seldom seen a greater collection of seersucker, linen, bow ties, colorful pocket hankies and Panama hats. It was, in  short, a pageantry of al fresco sartorial splendor.

Beyond the joys of fashion vanity, this display of designer labels and over-the-top hats had a meaningful guiding purpose as eloquently addressed by Hannah McNair, who co-chaired the afternoon with her husband, Cal McNair, and Megan and Luke Hotze. She spoke on the importance of Bo’s Place, the non-profit, free of charge service offering grieving children and adults comfort and aid in moving forward after the death of a loved one.

While it poured down rain and the horses slogged through mud at Churchill Downs (viewed on screens around the party scene), more than 400 Houstonians basked in the afternoon sunlight, spreading their colorful array of spring fashions beyond the hotel-sized swimming pool and tennis courts and across the tree-shaded, sloping lawns.

Cocktails, wine and mint juleps flowed and bounteous food offerings crowded buffet tables which were laden with everything from beef tenderloin to baby lamb chops, from grilled shrimp to Mexican fare. It was a full on feast for the late-afternoon crowd.

Hats, Hearts & Horseshoes has quickly become a must-attend event for the thirtysomething/fortysomething throng and with that popularity, the event raised a record $370,000.

Mad hatters: Honorary chairs Jennifer and Richard Hancock , Jade and David Shine, plus Sue Smith, Travis Torrence, Joanna and Brad Marks, Courtney and Bill Toomey, Melissa Juneau, Susan and Charlie Neuhaus, Vivian Wise, Stacey and Al Lindseth, Meredith and Patrick Chastang, Andrew Cordes and Brian Teichman, Kathleen Jennings, Clarease and Cary Yates, Cheryl Boblitt and Jeff Turner, Bo’s Place president Debbie Gregg and husband Mark, and Bo’s Place executive director Mary Beth Staine.

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