Tribeza Style Week Dinner + Design, Jewel Ball Luncheon, Imaginarium for the Thinkery

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Designer Fern Santini's vision for Tribeza Style Week's Dinner + Style.
Designer Fern Santini's vision for Tribeza Style Week's Dinner + Style.

Designer Fern Santini’s vision for Tribeza Style Week’s Dinner + Style.

STYLE 1: Pairing designers with chefs, Tribeza has created a new genre of party. To kick off Style Week 2015, the lifestyle magazine switched from its usual menswear fair to a sit-down dinner that twinned some of the city’s best cooks with some its best interior designers. By consensus, Fern Santini outdid all others at the Fair Market venue with her homage to Truman Capote‘s 1966 Black and White Ball. Outsized photographs of the original celebrity guests hung on the walls of a pop-up formal dining room, lit by elaborate candelabras and a blazing chandelier. Other designers created cascading floral runners. Our table was beautiful but comparatively modest in design. We had the benefit, however, of chef Larry McGuire‘s in-person skills representing Jeffrey’s, his flagship eatery. It was like being transported into the tony Clarksville-area restaurant, a civilized meal that climaxed in a perfectly executed peppered tenderloin. My table mate this evening was longtime By George co-owner Katy Culmo. Although we’d met several times before, we poured out our life stories to each other, a rare conversational treat.

Liza Brinkmann and Jeanmarie Rust at the Jewel Ball Luncheon for the Women's Symphony League.

Liza Brinkmann and Jeanmarie Rust at the Jewel Ball Luncheon for the Women’s Symphony League.

STYLE 2:  The midday repast was really all about the apparel. Given by the venerable Women’s Symphony League, the Jewel Ball Luncheon, which helps pay the way for tens of thousands of youth to attend Austin Symphony performances, attracted some 500 women to the JW Marriott Austin. Quite a few of them attired in black-and-white animal prints, they were in no hurry to enter the banquet hall for a full fashion show and condensed meal. Other than servers, I counted only five men, and all of us, including veteran shutterbug Robert Godwin, were working the event in some way, too. The centerpiece, which included a short introduction of the Jewel Ball royalty − still hard to compass after all these years − was an expert runway show directed by the esteemed Sue Webber. It started with loose, organically gorgeous clothing from the Garden Room, followed by kicky, whimsical styles from Rare Trends and little runway dramas acted out by models representing Almar Furs. The second half of the bill included playful, amusing apparel from Adelante Boutique, rock ‘n’ roll inspirations from Red Bird Boutique and stately, bold classics from Julian Gold. Another Webber winner.

Traci Osborn and Janet Ngo at the Imaginarium for the Thinkery.

Traci Osborn and Janet Ngo at the Imaginarium for the Thinkery.

SCHOOL: The evening version of this event took off years ago at an abandoned airplane hangar. This time, the Imaginarium gala landed at the JW Marriott, looking all grown-up and smart. This benefit for the Thinkery had outgrown both the hangar and its own children’s science museum at Mueller. Other than a few super-patrons, such as Lynn and Tom Meredith, the hosts and guests belong to a completely divergent set of Austin nonprofit backers. Which is tremendously gratifying, since Austin’s 6,000 charities need all the help they can attract. Everyone at my table, set close to the resurrected Austin-themed stage set from Jimmy Kimmel Live, kept the commentary going at a fast pace. Helpful for answering questions, immediately to my right were two former Thinkery captains, Mike Nellis and David C. Smith, who cheered incoming CEO Troy Livingston. No estimates so far, but I bet they raised a lot of money this night.


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