With the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey lingering, Houston's fall social season has slowly begun to blossom again as residents look to the future. The theme of renewal was evident at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Grand Gala Ball as thousands of fuchsia-hued flowers turned Cullinan Hall into a garden wonderland.
Cherie Flores, who chaired the gala with husband Jim, is an award-winning gardener, so she enlisted Richard Flowers of The Events Company to create a spectacular floral setting, with so many butterfly orchids that some observers wondered if there were any left in town. Roses, hydrangeas, and other flowers in pink, red, lavender, and various other similar shades lined walls, dotted a huge wall, ringed a large chandelier, and filled oversized vases.
The theme also paid tribute to the current museum exhibition, The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta, as the legendary designer loved to putter around in his garden and was known for using floral patterns in some of his most notable designs. A room in the exhibition is devoted to the gardens at de la Renta's Connecticut estate, with displays of floral gowns that are an important part of the retrospective.
The de la Renta connection also gave guests the opportunity to wear their finest gowns, and many paid tribute to the designer by wearing dazzling de la Renta creations. (See the CultureMap story: Who wore it best? The most spectacular gowns from the Museum of Fine Arts Grand Gala Ball.)
"Never has there been a more beautiful room with more beautiful women wearing beautiful dresses by Oscar de la Renta," MFAH director Gary Tinterow told the crowd. "Thank you all for being here in your finest."
Tinterow beamed as he announced that the gala had raised a record $2.3 million and praised Jim and Cherie Flores for "providing a beautiful and splendid respite after the travails our city has endured."
"I just want to say Houstonians are just amazing people when the chips are down. You've all worked together and you make it happen," said Cherie Flores, who wore a custom-made Oscar de la Renta fuchsia gown that complemented the surroundings.
She also noted the de la Renta exhibition includes designs from a number of local donors "and I'm so proud of that," she added. "Here's to Texas women."
After a dinner of seared sea scallops, medallions of veal, and savory leek-wrapped bread pudding catered by City Kitchen, guests jammed the large circular dance floor to rock out to oldies performed by the band Password.
Seen amid the crowd were Leslie and Brad Bucher, Nancy and Rich Kinder, Diane Lokey Farb, Hallie Vanderhider and Fady Armanious, Lynn Wyatt, Sara Dodd, Vivienne Wise, Jim and Whitney Crane, Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs, Carol and Michael Linn, Courtney and Christopher Sarofim, Martha Long, Lisa and Michael Holthouse, Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, Linda and Walter McReynolds, Elyse Lanier, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier, and Renu and Suresh Khator.
In from New York were de la Renta's widow, Annette de la Renta; Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen and his wife, Eliza; André Leon Talley, who curated the Houston exhibition; and Allison Sarofim, whose gown that de la Renta created for her to wear to the Met Gala holds a prominent place in the exhibition.