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Stunning Red Carpet Looks

Houston's most stunning red carpet looks: CultureMap's best dressed show off ball gowns to die for

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Photo by © Michelle Watson/
News_Liaisons Au Louvre_June 2011_Nick Florescu_Dominique Sachse
Photo by © Michelle Watson/
News_Houston Grand Opera Ball_opera gowns_April 2012_Cynthia Petrello
Photo by Priscilla Dickson
0030, Houston Symphony Ball, March 2013, Phoebe Tudor, Bobby Tudor
Photo by © Michelle Watson/
006 , Houston Ballet Ball, February 2013, Martin Fein, Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein
Photo by Morris Malakoff
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Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Louvre gowns Diane Lokey Farb in Armani Prive haute couture June 2013
Photo by © Michelle Watson/
News_Houston Grand Opera Ball_opera gowns_April 2012_Becca Cason Thrash
Photo by Priscilla Dickson
15 Divya Brown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Ball October 2013
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20 Houston Grand Opera gowns April 2013 Chris Goins
Photo by © Michelle Watson/

In CultureMap's first five years, we've covered all the major galas — five times. And we've seen a bundle of beautiful gowns making it impossible to pick only five for showcasing.

With much finger-wringing and angst, we finally narrowed down our selection of the best gowns of our first five years to 10 luscious red carpet looks.

Always stunning, Lynn Wyatt rocked the red carpet in this black Oscar de la Renta worn with above-the-elbow white gloves. Here, she is accompanied by her son, Brad Wyatt, to the Houston Grand Opera Ball in 2011.

Who would expect anything less from H-Town's only member of Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed Hall of Fame?

Some of Houston's loveliest gowns showed up at the Liaisons au Louvre II benefit in Paris in 2011. Case in point, this sophisticated number selected by Dominique Sachse for the very special evening.

The black satin gown with built-in petticoat featured a nude mesh halter top bedecked with black beading. She found the dress by Sherry Haute Couture at Nima Boutique

"It fit like a glove through the bodice, was the perfect length and needed no alterations, just meant to be like the man I'm standing next to," Sasche notes. That would be her husband Nick Florescu.

When Cynthia and Tony Petrello chaired the Houston Grand Opera Ball "Viva Italia" in 2012, she won kudos for this amazing gown by Alexander McQueen. The gown of frothy silk organza tiers topped with a golden-beaded bodice had leading  lady written all over it.

When Phoebe Tudor saw the sparkling J. Mendel black and silver gown on the runway in the Neiman Marcus fashion presentation for the Best Dressed luncheon, she knew she had to have it.

"It really caught my attention. It was a show stopper. I ordered it from Neiman's that afternoon," she says. "I liked it because as you saw, it was different from what I often wear, and I thought it was very glamorous."

We thought so to when she wore it to the Symphony Ball in the spring of 2013. Phoebe and husband Bobby Tudor chaired the white-tie-and-tails gala.

She also wore this J. Mendel for Ceron and Todd Fiscus' wedding in New York on New Year's Eve 2013.

From the moment she signed on to chair the Ballet Ball in 2013, Kelli Cohen Fein knew she wanted something spectacular for the night.

When she saw actress Lucy Liu in a magnificent Carolina Herrera floral print gown at the Golden Globes, Cohen Fein went into action to secure the dress for the ball.

What could be more perfect for the evening themed "Rite of Spring" and with Herrera in attendance?


For chairman Rudy Avelar's "My Fair Ladies" Houston Grand Opera Ball, Isabel David had the perfect feminine and elegant yellow gown by Roland Mouret.

"Oh, how I love that gown," David says of the piece she came upon while visiting family in Germany.

 "When they announced the Yellow Rose Ball honoring Lynn Wyatt (in 2010), I knew I had the perfect dress.  And then I learned that I would be eight months pregnant at the Yellow Rose Ball, so this was not the occasion after all."

She had her chance the following year where the graceful yellow was a standout amid the sea of pastel-hued gowns.

Not only is this Armani Privé haute couture gown our favorite in Diane Lokey Farb's vast closet, it's her favorite as well.

The gown was designed specially for her at Giorgio Armani home base in Milan. She wore it at the Liaisons au Louvre III  gala in Paris in June of 2013. 

Ralph Rucci created this stunning gown for his haute couture debut in Paris. Becca Cason Thrash fell in love with the spectacular gown which she wore to the Houston Grand Opera Ball in 2012.

The striking design includes an ostrich bodice with skirt of coral colored duchess satin. It has a matching ostrich cocoon jacket not pictured.

"It was from the first collection of Ralph Rucci haute couture in Paris," Cason Thrash recalls. "He and I were friends, I was there and it wasn't really for any event in particular. I loved the fact that it had pockets! I had never seen a ball gown with pockets prior to that."

With India as the theme of last fall's Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Grand Gala Ball, Divya Brown had the perfect source for her custom bejeweled gown — Rohit Bal of Mumbai. The gown was hand-embroidered with silver threading and Swarovski crystals by Indian craftsmen.

You might recall that Bal designed all of Elizabeth Hurley's outfits for her wedding to Arun Nayar.   

"I wore this to my wedding reception," Brown emailed, "which was held at the MFAH, so it was very special when I had the opportunity to relive the evening by wearing it to the Grand Gala ball."

Tootsies' Chris Goins knocked it out of the ballpark with this cutout gown by BCBG, proving that you don't have to spend a bundle to look like a million bucks.

She wore this gown to the Houston Grand Opera Ball in April of 2013.