Lynn Wyatt's on-going 80th birthday celebration reached a glorious peak Friday night when she shepherded the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Grand Gala Ball to a record $2 million in proceeds and inspired the best partying that the museum has probably ever seen.
The tony ambience of the off-the-charts evening was set by La Wyatt's "Black & White" ball theme. A bit of Truman Capote influence, a hint at Karl Lagerfeld's nickname "Black and Wyatt" for the glamorous diva, Cullinan Hall and Upper Brown Pavilion were decorated in a stunning recreation of Lynn and Oscar Wyatt's River Oaks dining room.
Richard Flowers of The Events Company underwrote the elegant transformation, a gift, he said, for Lynn's 30 years of faithful support. Not only were the walls covered in 6,000 yards of black and white silk stripes, so the terrazzo flooring in the museum foyer was covered in black and white striping. Crystal chandeliers wrapped in black shades hung overhead while massive arrangements of white orchids sprung from tabletops.
Lynn upped the excitement quotient by including a few good friends with star power—Shirley MacLaine, the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, Vogue style director Alexandra Kotur, Vanity Fair contributor James Reginato, New York City DJ "Mad Marj" Marjorie Gubelmann and Oscar de la Renta head designer Peter Copping.
(Reginato was accompanied by VF photographer Jonathan Becker, both working on a Lynn Wyatt feature.)
Copping designed the ball chair's white, re-embroidered lace gown for the evening. "I can't think of anyone I would rather dress, anyone more beautiful than Lynn Wyatt," he said. Also wearing one of Copping's designs was Mad Marj, who after dinner turned the museum into a thumping disco, her music inspiring even the most conservative in the museum crowd to their feet.
Special guest — via video — was Elton John, who wished his BFF happy birthday and offered a pair of his sunglasses, autographed, for auction. The resulting high bid took the gala to that record seven-figure level.
"I am overjoyed. I am overcome. I am over the moon," Lynn told the gathering. "I want to think of this celebration not as an honor to me but as a true love letter to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston."
The program, as is MFAH tradition, was short and sweet with board chairman Rich Kinder, museum director Gary Tinterow and Dene Oliver of River Oaks District (lead ball underwriter along with Oscar and Lynn Wyatt) making remarks.
After Lynn thanked her guests, the Duchess of York took the stage briefly to praise her long-time friend, saying, "I'm so grateful that you are my friend and quite likely we are so lucky to have you as our friend. You are the finest most steadfast person that I know."
Also joining Lynn at her head table were two of her four sons, Steve Wyatt with Joyce Echols and Brad Wyatt. Oscar Wyatt, in a wheel chair after suffering a stroke several years ago, attended the reception with his wife, before retiring home.
The swell crowd included high-level underwriters Shahla and Hushang Ansary, Beth Madison, Diane Lokey Farb, Cornelia and Meredith Long, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Nidhika and Pershant Mehta, Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs, Lynn and Peter Coneway, Franci Neely, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Sue Trammell Whitfield and Carol and Mike Linn.