Typically, when the U.S. Ambassador to France hosts a formal dinner in the official Paris residence, Hotel de Pontalba, tables of 10 are placed around the historic dining room. But not so when Becca Cason Thrash was feted at a black-tie dinner celebrating her decoration as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
"You know me," she quipped, while still on a very real high from the excitement of the ceremonies in Paris.
Known for her exquisite dinner parties in Houston, Becca had her own ideas of how she wanted the once-in-a-lifetime evening to unfold. Happily for all, Ambassador Charles Rivkin and wife Susan Tolson were perfectly amenable to the vision of this Texan in Paris. A very proud John Thrash co-hosted the elegant soirée along with the Rivkins.
The evening began with cocktails in the garden on what turned out to be a prefect spring night on which Becca greeted Christian Louboutin (wearing a velvet jacket in his signature red), Pucci designer Peter Dundas, Carolyne Roehm and a host of European notables. The dashing Monsour Taghdisi was the only other Houstonian to join the fete.
As the sun began to set, guests moved into the grand salon for presentation of the medal by Chevalier Maryvonne Pinault. Becca was recognized for her philanthropy at home and abroad, her unprecedented fundraising for the Louvre and her championing of Franco-American relations. We are told that Becca's acceptance speech was flawless — part French (she's been studying ardently for two years) and part English.
Becca chose a beige, beautifully-beaded cocktail dress by Marchesa for the evening. While tradition holds that the Legion of Honor medal is pinned on the honoree's clothing, the fabric of this dress was just too fragile for the heavy pins of the medal so Madame Pinault ceremoniously handed the Maltese cross medal to the beaming recipient.
"It was absolutely by far one of the most exciting things that's ever happened in my life," Becca said. "Now, I'm The Honorable!" she added, laughing deliciously.
The 64 illustrious guests, who had come to see this high-fashion Texan receive the high French honor, then adjourned to the candlelit dining salon for a multi-course feast and spirited conversation. Perhaps the most interesting man at the table was French luxury goods titan Francois Pinault, whose PPR brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. Although there was much speculation, he never revealed that McQueen's Sarah Burton was designing Kate Middleton's wedding gown.
The guest list included a heady collection of Hennessys, an Hermes and a Picasso and from the U.S. Christopher Forbes, Blaine Trump and Cece Cord.
The party continued on at the exclusive private club Mathis where Veuve Cliquot's Stephane Gerschel and Mary Ellen and Roberto Marziale of London hosted a bash for Becca that went on until 3 a.m.
In the end, the glowing Becca headed off to bed with the honor that places her in such vaunted company as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and Estée Lauder.
"It's remarkable that they've given me this honor," she said. "It was really, really fun."