The record turnout of 104 formally-attired guests for the Rienzi Society annual dinner called for a different approach to seating than in the previous 15 years. Four banquet style tables, dressed in a French blue and crystal motif and laced with flowers, were centered in the grand ballroom of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston house museum of decorative arts.
Inspired by the grand ballrooms in English country houses, not unlike Downton Abbey, it was a setting fit for blue bloods and, indeed, the Rienzi Society is comprised of leaders of the city's old guard.
On this evening, as is tradition, members voted from several options on the purchase of a work to add to the collection. Wining the hearts and pocketbooks of the society was a portrait of Archduchess MariaAmalia of Austria, Duchess of Parma.
Christiana and Luke McConn and Marilyn and Christopher Winters chaired the dinner that raised $303,000 for the collection of European decorative arts and paintings that are displayed in the former of the late Carroll Sterling (Christiana's grandmother) and Harris Masterson III.
This was Katherine Howe's final dinner as Rienzi founding director. She announced her retirement last month. In her honor, guests raised their glasses in a champagne toast.
Elizabeth Swift's Swift + Company created the regal setting and provided the elegant dinner that included fried quail salad, a main course of petit filet and herb-roasted shrimp and assorted bite-sized desserts.
The sophisticated crowd of Rienzi patrons included MFAH director Gary Tinterow and Christopher Gardner, Isla and Tommy Reckling, Randi and Johnny Carrabba, Nancy Allen, Eddie Allen, Ann Trammell, Carroll Goodman, Rosslyn and Marshall Crawford, Elise and James Reckling, Margaret Wilson Reckling, Melissa and Doug Schnitzer, Mary Eliza and Park Shaper and Eleni and Thad Fuller.