BY: Lance Avery Morgan
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: David Atlan
It’s good to be Becca Cason Thrash these days, especially with the Harlingen native’s latest society and philanthropic triumph, the Liaisons au Louvre II gala in Paris held at, yes, the Louvre museum. Recently awarded the recipient of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the Houston resident is hands down one of France’s “It” girls these days. Why? First, as a friend of hers, among other things I can attest she is a fearless fundraiser and tireless hostess. When others think enough has been raised, Thrash asks; “why not more?” Secondly, she is pals with almost everyone who is interesting these days in international pop culture.
“My first Louvre gala was so successful the first time around, the museum asked me to produce it again. Also, the guests wanted a second experience in Paris and the truth is “I’m just a girl who can’t say no,” Becca Cason Thrash.
Some of the best memories many Sociables in this state share are those of the myriad “Thrash Bashes” held over the years in the Thrash’s luxe Houston home. John is everyone’s best friend and Becca is also welcoming, gregarious, beautiful and yes, is a consummate hostess that has gained legendary status; all traits honed as a native Texan.
We all know elaborate productions don’t just appear magically. Far from it, in fact. Especially in the case with the Louvre, the event was created on another continent and in another language. Almost two years in the making, Thrash’s Louvre extravaganza was the crown jewel of three days of festivities for the out-of-town attendees of Texans, global philanthropists, renowned art collectors, sprinkled with European aristocracy.
The over-the-top glam weekend included a seated dinner at the American ambassador’s residence, as well as a candlelit supper at a historic chateau outside Paris. The invitations arrived in February for the summertime event. Thrash is emphatic about her devotion to the museum (she serves on its international board) by telling me, “While the museum sits on French soil, more Americans visit the Louvre than any other museum outside of the U.S., save the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I fondly remember the days when we had positive Franco-American relations which flourished during the Clinton years and I wanted to help rebuild that which we had lost.”
Thrash realized it might be difficult to top her 2008 Louvre gala that raised a staggering $2.7 million for the museum. Originally this year’s event was scheduled for last November and due to the terror alerts Thrash had two very hectic days to reschedule it all for this June, which meant she had to personally notify all the notable guests living in far-flung locales like Brazil, Shanghai and even, Botswana. She also had to re-do the auction catalog, create new guest packages, and essentially, re-plan the event. “It was a difficult decision to postpone, as the majority of guests are flying in from all over the world to attend. With ticket prices at $10,000, flights, hotels, wardrobe, etc, the trip can cost in excess of a $50,000. However, guests seemed delightfully pleased with the change of date; it all worked out so beautifully.”
Yet, even in a recovering economy, this year’s total raise was a whopping $3.6 million for the Musee du Louvre. Proceeds will help restore the Louvre’s 18th-century decorative arts galleries, which are set to reopen in 2013.
Thrash welcomed guests, wearing one of the last twelve creations designed by Alexander McQueen, prior to his untimely death. The pale gray “Winged Victory” gown was accessorized with emeralds and diamonds from here to next Thursday. Guests also rubbed royal elbows with the Thrash’s aristocratic pal, Prince Albert of Monaco (without his then-fiancée), who heartily enjoyed champagne and mingled about, as did actress Diane Kruger and her boyfriend, actor Joshua Jackson. Bubbly poured from the plethora of magnum bottles and set the stage for the dinner to begin.
The dinner was, as the French say, a pièce de résistance. The sumptuously dressed guests in “high black tie” which meant long gowns for women and no creative licenses for the men’s tuxedos. Many of the voluminous gowns were purchased in anticipation of the event’s one-time wearing and none of the elegant guests disappointed in their elaborate ensembles of feathers, beads and miles of chiffon and satin.
Bon Jour, Belle Époque
Seated at dinner in the Louvre’s multi-level Cour Marly Sculpture Gallery, the 300 guests dined on culinary delicacies for which the French are so renowned; the first course of foie gras was followed by the sole entrée. With the help of Los Angeles-based event producer Ben Bourgeois, Thrash’s vision of “pink on pink” came to life. The hot pink silk table clothes inlaid with black velvet swirls were accented with black crystal candelabras, capacious pink peonies and orchids, which graced the opulent tables. When asked about her inspiration, she muses, “The first Louvre gala was in another part of the museum. Guests were seated at two massive mirrored tables, replete with yellow orchids. This time I wanted a completely different look. I was inspired by a hot pink chair I was shown in Paris. We had more chairs made for our dinner and played off on the hot pink hue set in an expansive white marble venue… the space, replete in fuchsia, created the “wow” factor for guests.”
Following dinner, guests adjourned into the I.M. Pei glass Pyramid du Louvre (transformed into an intimate nightclub setting) for dessert, the live auction, and performance. Thrash, in her inimitable manner, ran the live auction, which included five extraordinary trips and a Richard Prince iconic joke painting, which sold for $700,000. Thrash is famous for calling on bidders by name… not one person in the history of current society has ever turned down her appeal and this night was no different.
Then, the evening’s featured act began. Pop diva Janet Jackson crooned a medley of her best hits, including “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” “Miss You Much,” “Rhythm Nation,” and “Nasty” while the guests danced themselves into exhaustion before venturing over to Café Marley where the after-party went from the moon glow until the sun’s rise. Now that’s a party.
In a statement about the event made by Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand to The Associated Press, he enthused, “Americans have done so much for culture here in France. They saved Versailles and Giverny,” He went on to say, “I can only applaud the work done by Mrs. Thrash, who’s one of those marvelous Americans who put so much time and effort into saving the precious things we’re lucky enough to have in this country.”
When I ask Becca about her unending devotion to helping others in such a enchanting way, she confides, “Entertaining is what I do, Lance. In many ways it is considered an art form. I want to make a difference in the world, and in doing so, with style, glamour and beauty. It doesn’t hurt that I have an extraordinary and supportive husband. Let’s face it, without John Thrash, there would be no Becca.” The Thrashes live and operate their philanthropic magic from their home base here in Texas and to say that Becca Cason Thrash is a girl from Harlingen who did well is an understatement… and we look forward to more triumphs from our dear friend, Texas’ High Priestess of Chic.