Not in two decades of covering H-Town society have we encountered a more alluringly self-confident gala chair. As she welcomed guests to the south entrance of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Friday night, Windi Grimes was a vision in a turquoise, pearl-beaded gown by Naeem Khan and a Kingfisher longneck in hand. The Indian beer was just a small indication of what was to come in a night that rocked the MFAH Grand Gala Ball's sedate traditions while raising a whopping $1.96 million.
With "India!" as their gala theme, Windi and David Grimes envisioned a festive, energetic evening, one that would keep guests talking for weeks. And with the help of The Events Co., they succeeded.
The splendid fun began on the museum lawn where photo ops with a massive elephant had guests standing in line. Young girls on platforms tossed showers of rose petals down on guests as they entered the museum where, just inside, a team of experts wrapped turbans on male guests who were game.
More than 30,000 marigolds were employed in the decor that included flower garlands.
In fact, various interpretations of India's national dress — some authentic, some modified for American sensibilities — seemed to be the fashion inspiration of the night. Even MFAH director Gary Tinterow gamely complimented his tuxedo with a billowing majestic turban, a gift from the maharaja of Rajasthan.
While guests such as Nidhika and Pershant Mehta, Sultana Mangalji and Kathy and Marty Goossen wore authentic costumes, high fashion minded femmes including Phoebe Tudor, Diane Lokey Farb and Diana Hawkins opted for gowns by Naeem Khan, the famed Indian designer.
Inside the museum's Cullinan Hall, the 530 guests found their places at oblong tables magically dressed in cloths in shades of orange and red shot with gold threads, lavish bouquets of marigolds running the table length. More than 30,000 marigolds were employed in the decor that included flower garlands and brightly-colored ribbons descending from the ceiling.
The theme continued with contempo Bollywood dance entertainment by Ishaara, out of Los Angeles, and a flavorful dinner by City Kitchen that presented the best of Indian cuisine without the fiery spices.
The night concluded with the sounds of the David Caceres Orchestra which had the dance floor packed with guests including Renu and Suresh Khator (both in their national dress), Nancy and Rich Kinder, Sara Dodd and Gregory Fourticq, Laurie and Reed Morian, Janet and Paul Hobby, Elena and Greg Davis, Melissa and Michael Mithoff and Roseann Rogers and Dr. Aashish Shah and Lisa and Paul Clemenceau.