Social tip: Listen.
To others. To yourself. It cures most social ills.
At the Noir Fashion Show for Austin Fashion Week at the strikingly post-industrial Brazos Hall, talk leaned toward apparel and gossip.
At dinner, Shelley Neuman explained her blog ATX Street Fashion. Meanwhile, other guests at our table astride the runway reacted to the two concise sets of white clothing worn by a troupe of smashing models. Layered looks by Linda Asaf and Stephen Moser prompted the most comment.
As for the meal, an elegant, black-and-white concoction by pastry chef Steven Cak lit up our tablemates’ pleasure centers.
At the perennially glorious Wildflower Gala, much was said from the podium about the new children’s garden seeded with money from Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin.
Everyone gave thanks for the weather, which went from blustery and chill to calm and mild just in time for the outdoor dinner.
At past events here, much was gleaned from tablemates attorney Becky Beaver and photographer Nancy Scanlan, plus their friend, political advocate Susan Longley. This time, the discoveries poured from Longley’s niece and Scanlan’s cousin, cleverly placed on either side of your columnist.
Note to hosts: Table placement is critical. Don’t always leave it to fate.
Backers of Komen Austin, the breast cancer charity, have said repeatedly that they learned a world of lessons from last year’s scrap over women’s health care providers. In fact, they gained access to leaders who might have ignored them in the past.
As a measure of success, the group’s Perfectly Pink gala doubled its attendance numbers in just one year to more than 400. The hosts tastefully rethought the feasibility of the Shoal Crossing center. Just enough color to satisfy the theme.
Haven’t encountered a more organized or better informed set of staff and volunteers at a benefit party before. A dozen different people taught me something I didn’t know.
Fashionably Pink proved that the poolside lounging area at W Austin makes a glamorous runway venue. The breast cancer benefit, staged by Cheryl Conley Bemis of the unstoppable Fashionably Austin, allowed for copious conversation before the local designs walked into the sunset.
Sometimes it appears that all the most gorgeous people in the world have settled in Austin. They pop up everywhere. And certainly at this charmed party.
The Heart Ball is a well-established benefit for the American Heart Society. A good 600 to 800 guests filtered into the Hilton Austin ballroom before dining and dancing to the ingratiating music of Clint Black.
Like some other older parties, though, the Heart Ball’s gravitational force attracts a whole different mob of Austinites than those who frequent the charity circuit.
They listened intently to expertly produced video testimony about a new, less-invasive heart procedure that turned around one guest’s life.
Listen. Just listen.
Annie’s List Lunch
Annie’s List promotes progressive women candidates for public office in Texas. Over the years, they’ve invited the press to their benefit lunches. The speakers are always compelling.
This year, it was U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. We’d all heard about her hard-fought campaign in 2012. She’s also a first-class public speaker. She told funny personal stories and, wisely, emphasized her own experiences.
The banquet room at the Hyatt Austin was full of cheering admirers, mostly women. (The food, by the way, was excellent. The Hyatt is becoming a more confident player on the food service scene.)
Several elected officials given substantial help from Annie’s List — including Reps. Donna Howard, Mary Ann Perez and Senfronia Thompson as well as Sen. Wendy Davis — also gathered on the stage.
Water to Thrive is a faith-based group led by Dick Moeller that digs wells in Africa. It also spreads the word about the global water crisis. It’s one of more than a dozen Austin-based groups directly improving the lives of the world’s neediest people.
The group staged a small Chef’s Table party at the Palm Door. Various top cooks put together dinner packages that made me wish I could join the bidding wars. David Bull from Congress, for instance, not only plans a unique meal, the winners will join him in the kitchen to cook for themselves.
The more one discovers about Water to Thrive, the more one admires its efficient, effective efforts. It should be better known.
The iAct benefit at the Four Seasons was split into two chapters. First we heard the live and taped testimonies of refugees helped by the group, formerly known as Interfaith Texas, which unites folks of faith to help the needy in Austin.
Last year, audiences were blown away by the testimonies of those aided by iAct’s Hands on Housing program. Profiles followed in this column about grateful homeowner Doris Roland and innovative developer Terry Mitchell. Hope to snag some life stories from the speakers on this night as well.
Later, four figures familiar to readers of this column — Alex Winkelman and Patsy Woods Martin as well as Liz Watson and Kirk Watson — were honored with Hope Awards. Couldn’t think of a more deserving group of leaders, each introduced by a family member.
Best quote came, not surprisingly, from Sen. Watson: “The city of Austin has given us far more than we can ever give to it.”