When top designers travel to Houston for trunk shows and personal appearances, a stop at the home of Lynn Wyatt for a quick visit is practically mandatory. But a dinner party hosted by Houston's international social lioness is even more special.
Wyatt recently has shown a special affinity for Brandon Maxwell, the emerging designer best known for creating Lady Gaga's white Oscar gown suit and the ivory-colored strapless gown first lady Michelle Obama wore to a state dinner for the prime minister of Singapore. They bonded when he outfitted Wyatt for a spread in Town & Country to celebrate the magazine's 170th anniversary issue last month.
So when Maxwell, a 32-year-old Longview native, came to Houston for the Catwalk for a Cure event Thursday night and a personal appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue, Wyatt had him over for an intimate dinner party Wednesday night in her "teepee" — that's how she affectionately refers to her smaller home, as opposed to the grander "Wyatt Hyatt" mansion on River Oaks Boulevard where she and husband, Oscar, once resided.
Wyatt gathered an eclectic group of Houstonians of various ages and interests for a lively dinner party that left the designer close to tears at one point (more about that later). She seated Maxwell on one side of her and legendary 91-year-old developer Gerald Hines on the other, so they could get to know each other better. "They're both artists," she said, noting the iconic buildings Hines has developed. Maxwell sat mesmerized as Hines told insider stories about building The Galleria.
Still amazingly athletic for his age, Hines confided to another guest, "I had to give up Rollerblading, but I still ski."
Wyatt wore a striking black pantsuit with peplum jacket designed by Maxwell, while Sara Dodd stood out in a white blouse with bell sleeves also created by the designer. Maxwell's childhood friend, Austin hairstylist Gabriela Cotton, accompanied him to the dinner, where they mingled with Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Barbara Hines, Pat Breen, Isabel and Danny David, Mark Sullivan, Saks Fifth Avenue general manager Bobby Dees and wife Wezy, and Alexandra and Brady Knight.
The highlight of the evening, observers say, came when Maxwell gave a heartfelt tribute to Wyatt, noting that when he was a teenager in east Texas, she first came to his attention when she was mentioned numerous times in the Andy Warhol Diaries, which Maxwell devoured as a fan of the artist. Having dinner at her house was something he never imagined, he told the crowd.
The four-course menu included pumpkin soup, herbal crusted tilapia with vegetables, salad and cheese, and dessert — Wyatt's chef of 35 years created two souffles with peach ice cream buried inside for each table that guests devoured as she encouraged them to "dig down deep."
After the first two courses, Wyatt and Maxwell moved to the second of two tables to mingle with guests as is her tradition. Barbara Hines regaled the table with a trip she and her husband took to to the South Pole, while Wyatt recalled a trip she and her husband took to the North Pole. It's a conversation that seemed uniquely Houston to this well-traveled set.
Politics didn't come up the entire evening, and one guest who before attending had lamented he would be missing the final game of World Series, confided afterwards that "it was worth it."
The conversation went on until past 12:30 am when the last guests departed. "For Houston that's like 3 o'clock in the morning," Wyatt quipped.