Event Date: November 12, 2021
Location: Royal Sonesta
No. of Attendees: 500+
Money Raised: $438,000
Beneficiary: Children at Risk
Honorary Chair: Debbie Festari
Chairpersons: Melissa Holman Juneau and Jennifer Pinkerton
Photography: Daniel Ortiz and Quy Tran
An Olympic Athlete Surprises Guests
at the Annual Una Notte in Italia “Celebrity” Men’s Fashion Show
For over a quarter-century, Debbie and Rudy Festari and their men’s fashion store Festari for Men, have annually created a fun and festive gathering, where guests enjoy having dinner and seeing recognizable athletes and familiar socially conscious men walk the runway in the latest fashions from this renowned clothing retailer. In their years of producing this event, they have raised an astounding $8 million for local Houston charities. This event was no less astounding. With Melissa Holman Juneau and Jennifer Pinkerton at the helm, the event was sold out over two months before the invitation was even released, and the evening of the gala, over 500 guests helped raise a record-breaking $438,000.
Upon entering the pre-event, sponsors Rolls–Royce Motor Cars North Houston showcase their luxury automobiles and Veneno Tequila (partially owned by Javier and Lucinda Loya) provided tequila bars and bartenders. Attendees roamed to view the extensive silent auction items and then made their way into the Grand Ballroom for an all-Italian “festa.”
The evening’s highlight was the celebrity men’s fashion show. Adorned in Festari for Men fashions, the men took over the runway to the cheers from their friends, while emcee and entertainer “Johnny Bravo” and Debbie Festari gave glowing and eloquent insights of each gentleman. Participants included Olympic great Carl Lewis, Dynamo stars Zarek Valentin and Tim Parker, Sabercats Rugby player Keni Nasoqeqe, Houston Texas Jonathan Owen and businessmen Chad Pinkerton, Moez Mangalji, Dr. Matthew Brams, Stephen Chen and Bob Sanborn, Jonathan Zadok, Adrian Dueñas, Pablo Delgado, Clayton Katz, Hugo Guerrero, Mark Thiessen and Al Lindseth.
One of the gala’s big surprises was the date on Houston Texans Jonathan Owen’s arm. It was none other than Olympic gymnastic gold medalist Simone Biles. The two met through social media in the early stages of the pandemic and have been an item ever since.
The most successful live auction in the history of this long-standing event occurred at this celebration. Top bidders included Gary Petersen, Hallie Vanderhider, Adam Tesanovich, Jose Orihuela, Pete Bell and Lori Hood. Businessman Gary Petersen bought the auction’s big prize—a dinner in the Pinkerton’s new home with Jeff Bagwell and Roger Clemens!
Socially present (not previously mentioned): Rachel and Jeff Bagwell, Francis and Tony Buzbee, Christine and Steve Johnson, Tina and Dan Silvestri, Melissa and Michael Mithoff, Gena and David Rush, Brigitte Kalai, Courtney Hopson, Neal Hamil, Fady Armanious, Dr. Monica Patel, Dr. Alice Mao Brams, Julie Longoria Chen, Sultana Mangalji, Gracie Cavnar, Tiffany and Randall Wong, Marc and Duyen Nguyen, Cody Soutar, Marla Hurley, Joyce Echols, Dominique Sachse, Kendra Smith, Marcelo Saenz and Stacey Lindseth.