Could there have been a more dazzling evening than the Bulgari dinner at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Wednesday? With 150 pieces of magnificent jewels on display and a flock of social swans draped in millions of dollars worth of exquisite bling from the Italian jewelry house, the dinner celebrating Bulgari: 130 Years of Masterpieces was absolutely dazzling. Yes, I said it again.
Leading the parade of beauties gifted with Bulgari for the evening was actress Naomi Watts, who recently joined Bulgari as glamorous spokeswoman. Resplendent in a yellow flowing gown by Preen, she wore a "Serpenti” necklace emblazoned with close to 50 carats in emeralds and approximately 175 carats in diamonds. Value $1.335 million.
"I think every woman has an interest in Bulgari and for obvious seasons — the beautiful gems and incredible craftsmanship," Watts said in her lilting British accent. "I think their pieces are classic and bold and they do make a statement. I feel it very fashion forward but very much honoring the old Italian heritage."
Lynn Wyatt was drenched in emerald-cut diamonds, wearing a suite that would top $7 million.
Asked about current projects, the actress allowed that with the recent completion of three films, she has taken the first quarter of the year off. She isn't sure of release dates, but you'll next see her on the big screen in Birdman with Michael Keeton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton. She said that her two other films, sans release date, are When We Were Young and St. Vincent's.
Among those casting admiring glances at Watts was Houston Texan J.J. Watt. One partygoer, observing Watt's moonstruck looks at the film star, noted approvingly, "She wouldn't have to change her initials."
Not quite the fish-out-of-water, the Texans defensive end admitted, "It's definitely a different world from what I'm used to. But my mom loves it when I dress up so I make sure to take a lot of pictures for her (on this night particularly with Watts). But it's pretty cool to see all this fine jewelry on display and it's definitely different from my days back in a small town in Wisconsin."
A full entourage of Bulgari notables flew in from various corners of the world for the exhibition opening party including patriarch Nicola Bulgari, Veronica Bulgari of New York, Bulgari president Jean-Christophe Babin, Bulgari USA president Alberto Festa and Bulgari executive vice president Sabina Belli.
The company was quite generous with its wares on this evening, dressing close to 10 belles of this ball in millions of dollars worth of jewels. Lynn Wyatt was drenched in emerald-cut diamonds, wearing a suite that would top $7 million. Greggory Burk, Christina Girard, Isabel David, Sima Ladjevardian, Becca Cason Thrash and Joanne King Herring were among the lucky Cinderellas who sparkled Bulgari-style on this evening. Wyatt, Herring and Girard had vested interest in the exhibition since each had contributed one among the 40 pieces in the collection that were on loan from private vaults.
"This is one of the greatest jewelry exhibitions ever put on display on Planet Earth," Bartsch noted.
The gala event was chaired by Windi and David Grimes with Nicola Bulgari and museum president Joel Barstch serving as hosts and Northern Trust providing sponsorship. Gracie Jeff Early and Colter Lewis, honchos of the wealth management firm. "This is one of the greatest jewelry exhibitions ever put on display on Planet Earth," Bartsch noted in brief remarks.
The party began with cocktails and viewing of the glittering, not-to-be-missed exhibition, then moved to a temporary exhibition gallery for the Italian-themed dinner from City Kitchen. The space had been so transformed by LA party guru Ben Bourgeois that few if any of the guests could determine exactly where in the vast museum they were. It felt like dining in a lavish Rome garden, complete with floral chandeliers.
The sophisticated coterie of guests included Tony and Isaac Arnold, Laurie and Reed Morian, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Ceron and Todd Fiscus, Lora and Dr. John Clemmons, Linda McReynolds, Anne and Dr. John Mendelsohn, Pat Breen, Divya and Chris Brown, Sara Dodd, Gregory Fourticq, Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson and Valerie Sarofim.
And among the lucky ladies displaying their very own Bulgari on this night were Diane Lokey Farb, Monica Hartland Blaisdell, Sallymoon Benz and probably more, but one dare not ask.