Inside the Chronicle’s 2022 $1 million Best Dressed Luncheon


They came, they saw, they raised $1,086,000 for March of Dimes.

On September 20, two classes of Houston Chronicle Best Dressed were honored during the annual luncheon with a fashion show presented by Neiman Marcus.

First the winners of 2022: Kristy Bradshaw, Gayla Gardner and Vicky west were inducted into the Hall of Fame after three years of recognition; two-time award winner Bridget Kalai and Sippi Khurana were celebrated and this year’s first grader, Elias Gabbanelli, Michele Leal Farah, Kelly Lubanko and Crystal Wright added fun to the day of fashion and philanthropy with a capital “F”.

Gabbanelli and Wright enjoyed a roaring reception as they took to the runway. Gabbanelli supporters threw a life-size cutout of the first honoree onto the catwalk as her name was announced. And a six-table cheering section roared as Wright made her debut, waving hand signs with her likeness.

Perhaps the loudest and longest ovation went to West, who broke her leg in a scooter incident in Nantucket. Always good sport, two models from Neal Hamil Agency escorted the Chanel-wearing award winner. Even their cast boasted interlocking Cs.

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Some members of the 2020 – and unintentionally 2021 – Best Dressed were honored at the 40th Anniversary fundraiser in the Ballroom of the Post Oak Hotel. Ann Ayre, Alice Mao Brams, Estela Cockrell, Joanna Hartland Marks, Roslyn Bazzelle Mitchell and LeighSmith could finally go on stage; Gaynell Drexler was applauded from her seat in the audience; Melissa Juneau and Hall of Famer Greggory Burk were unable to attend.

After a two-year hiatus, Best Dressed is back, live and in person – and with a seven-figure bang. Overall prizewinners and chairmen of the luncheon Hallie Vanderhider raised $1,086,000 for March of Dimes’ mission to support healthy mothers and babies.

Since lunch’s inception, more than $15.5 million has been raised to reduce preterm birth and birth defects, prevent maternal mortality and close the existing health equity gap. The nonprofit organization fights for the health of all mothers and babies, regardless of race, geography, or outcome, through research, programming, education, and advocacy.

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In Houston, March of Dimes has three facilities to support families in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, which is a sponsor of the Best Dressed Luncheon; the Women’s Hospital of Texas; and Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital. “The latter is coming soon and was really funded by Best Dressed donors,” he said jennifer torres, March of Dimes Senior Executive Director.

March of Dimes recently added a new initiative: Bridging the Health Equality Gap between White and Black Women. Internal results indicate a higher likelihood of maternal death or preterm birth based on race and ethnicity; Black women are 50 percent more likely to give birth prematurely. To address the discrepancy, March of Dimes offers training to recognize implicit bias, behavior change tools, and resources for mothers with mental health issues.

Before lunch, an unexpected $100,000 gift from the Chronicle Best Dressed family helped push the fundraising effort beyond its goal.

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Neiman Marcus welcomed the Houston favorite Naem Khan as a fashion partner. The Indian-American designer heralds its 20th anniversary in 2023 and showed a “best of” collection on Tuesday. Hot pink daytime looks and gold gowns with a black tie wowed the crowd. Backstage, teammates from Ceron Hair Studio and new makeup line FaceForward with Andrea Simmons provided the ultimate behind-the-scenes moment.

2022 was not only a record and milestone year; In addition, a new presentation sponsor was introduced: the Hermannskrankenhaus children’s memorial. Chairman of the Memorial Hermann Foundation Anne Neson introduced four doctors and some of their patients — as well as Dexter, a hospital service dog — to honor their contribution and sacrifice during the COVID pandemic.

Co-Chairs Raffle Julie Longoria Chen, Michele Marandi and Jennifer Allison rounded off the program by announcing the winners. Prize items ranged from private homes in Colorado and Nice to a year of free valet parking at Neiman Marcus.

It’s good to be back.

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