The 30th anniversary Best Dressed luncheon enjoyed a sophisticated step up on Wednesday as the catwalk, traditionally the domain of the honorees and a Neiman Marcus fashion presentation, was deliciously commandeered by a trio of cultural arts groups. And that was just one of several firsts for the March of Dimes fundraiser, held in the ballroom of the Westin Galleria Hotel.
With Kelli Blanton serving as chair, Lynn Wyatt stepped elegantly into her role as the luncheon's first-ever honorary chair. It was a fitting distinction as Lynn was also the first to enter the Best Dressed Hall of Fame. She brought with her not only her signature glamour but also her bold creative bent. It was Lynn who proposed the marriage between fashion and the arts — a suggestion readily embraced by Houston Grand Opera, the Alley Theatre and Houston Ballet.
The Alley's Todd Waite commenced the luncheon with a poetic ode to fashion. HGO's Catherine Martin entertained with the "Habanera" from Carmen. And the ballet provided some two dozen youthful dancers in full costume, a few channeling The Black Swan, who floated down the catwalk to classical and then rock music.
Another first — two designers of international renowned were in the house, featured designer Gilles Mendel and Tooties' guest Andrew Gn, in town for the previous days' Passion for Fashion luncheon. Also, it was Town & Country editor Jay Fielden's first visit to the Best Dressed benefit. Joining him from New York was T&C publisher Valerie Salembier, who assisted Jeff Cohen in presentation of the honorees.
Taking their turn in the spotlight were first-time honorees Jana Arnoldy, Gina Gaston Elie, Carol Linn and Millette Sherman. Making their second runway sashay were Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein, Paige Fertitta, Mary Tere Perusquia and Phyllis Williams. Applause, applause for Best Dressed Hall of Fame honorees Lucinda Loya and Sue Smith, having entered the highest realm of Houston fashion for appearing on the list for the third time.
Among the 600 guests helping raise $400,000 for March of Dimes were a number of Best Dressed Hall of Famers including Melinda Berkman, Anita Webber Smith, Sheridan Willliams, Karen Johnson, Karen Mayell, Dancie Ware, Diane Lokey Farb, Phoebe Tudor, Lora Clemmons, Mary Lynn Marks, Danielle Ellis, Becca Cason Thrash and more.
Beyond the high-style femmes in attendance there were plenty of men in the room including a number of husbands of the honorees — Scotty Arnoldy, Lester Smith, Haag Sherman, Javier Loya, Ricardo Perusquia. Add Cerón, Fady Armanious, Dick Hansen, Jackson Hicks, Milton Townsend and Neiman Marcus GM Bob Devlin, who introduced the stunning J. Mendel fashion presentation.
The honorees are selected by staff of the Houston Chronicle, luncheon sponsor.