When strategizing about the last event to be featured in our 2016 Fall Event Preview series, we made a conscious decision to go legitimately old-school on the fundraising front. The Austin Symphony Orchestra (ASO) has been a staple of our arts community for more than 105 years. For 63 of those years, The Women’s Symphony League of Austin (WSL) has dedicated its energy, talents and volunteer expertise to the ASO and its education programs. They’re the largest annual financial supporter of the Symphony’s educational programs for area children, more than 65,000 of whom benefit from the endeavors of these stalwart supporters.
One of the many gatherings the WSL oversees is the annual WSL Fashion Show & Luncheon, this year themed “Texas Women – Past, Present & Future.” In advance of the September 23rd festivities at the JW Marriott, we spoke with co-chairs Sharon Wilson and Tina Kemmerer for a preview of the luncheon, which … did we happen to mention … will include a keynote discussion with fashion designer, stylist, “friend of Gaga” and Texan Brandon Maxwell?
Austin Social Planner received an exclusive note from Brandon about the event in which he said “I am honored to have been invited to speak at the WSL luncheon this year, honoring Texas Women – past, present and future. I truly believe the women of Texas embody that Brandon Maxwell spirit – graceful, intelligent and strong-minded. Growing up in Texas influenced so much of what I have become as a stylist and a designer, that I could not say no!”
We’re glad you didn’t say “no” as well, Brandon. Now to our chat with Sharon and Tina, who are pictured below.
Austin Social Planner: Ladies, thank you so much for answering a few quick questions about the WSL Luncheon & Fashion Show. How did each of you get involved with the Women’s Symphony League?
Sharon Wilson: I am a second generation member, my mother joined in 1964 and is still active. I joined in 1989 and have loved the friendships, volunteering and supporting the Austin Symphony Orchestra. I participated in the ball in high school as a Belle and in college as the Diamond Queen. My mother and I are the only mother/daughter WSL President’s. And my daughter and I were the first mother/daughter Diamond Queens.
Tina Kemmerer: Dear friends invited me to join the WSL in 1993. I’ve enjoyed so many volunteer opportunities with generous and dedicated women who have become life long friends. My son and daughter have both participated in Junior Royalty presentations.
ASP: What about Jewel Ball and the luncheon/fashion show, specifically? Have you both served on this committee in the past
SW: This year Tina and I agreed to co-chair the Fashion Show along with Sue Webber as a favor to our dear friend and President, Beth Grimm. It goes back to the friendships and wanting to work with fun, hardworking women. Knowing you can depend on them to finish the work, reach the goal and have a successful and fun event. I have been on the Ball and Jewel Committees numerous times because I enjoy working with like minded women for a mutual cause.
TK: In all of my twenty-three years participating in the WSL, this is my very first year on the Fashion Show Committee. I’m so happy to support my dear friend Sharon as her co-chair. In 2011, I was chair of our spring fundraiser, the Red Haute Valentine’s Children’s Fashion Show and Luncheon, when Sharon was the WSL President. The WSL received national recognition for this fundraiser by the League of American Orchestras. We were so honored to receive this recognition and as chair and president, we flew to Seattle to receive this national award on behalf of the WSL.
ASP: Jewel Ball events take place over a long weekend. Do you have a favorite part, other than the presentation? The luncheon always seems to get a lot of buzz.
SW: Honestly, I absolutely love the whole weekend beginning Thursday night and always look forward to it! I don’t think I have missed a Jewel Ball since my first in 1983. It is always a family affair with three generations attending and has such special memories for all of my family.
TK: The whole weekend is full of a wonderful variety of events. What I enjoy the most is seeing longtime friends and families gathering in celebration of the Women’s Symphony League and the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
ASP: The WSL has been a longstanding leader in Austin’s philanthropic circles for decades. Tell us a little about what the proceeds from the luncheon & fashion show, plus the Jewel Ball support…and how it makes an impact on the community at large.
SW: As an organization, we are very proud to be the largest monetary contributor to the Austin Symphony Orchestra (ASO). The Women’s Symphony League donates ALL of our fundraising proceeds to the ASO. We have funded an educational endowment at the ASO that is only used for their education programs. I feel that the Arts are so very important to students of all ages. Babies to High Schoolers benefit from the Austin Symphony Orchestra through: Children’s Day Art Park, Halloween Concerts, Young People’s Concerts, High School Concerts, Building Blocks Programs and the Young Composer Contest. The Austin Symphony Orchestra reaches over 65,000 children in the Central Texas Area every year.
TK: I am always impressed with the community outreach that the WSL maintains especially in regard to Austin’s children and their introduction to the fine arts through music and music appreciation.
ASP: The luncheon and fashion show has undergone a lot of changes over the years – what kind of experience can attendees expect – and how excited are you to be featuring Texan Brandon Maxwell?
SW: We are so very excited to have Brandon Maxwell as our speaker this year! He is the IT fashion designer right now, dressing celebrities and recently First Lady Michelle Obama. Plus, his designs are available at stores for purchase, so within reach to women who like high fashion. I enjoy the daily updates of his designs, recognitions and awards on social media.
TK: We are thrilled to welcome Brandon Maxwell to Austin. He is enjoying such accolades and recognition for his luxury collections, his sense of style and for making women feel elegant and beautiful. If only he had time to style my outfit for the fashion show!
The evening after the fashion show and luncheon, The 62nd Jewel Ball presentation and gala, “Stairway to Heaven,” will take place at the Palmer Events Center. Attendees will enjoy a tradition-filled night of fundraising, celebrating music and the introduction of the Royal Court. Jewel Ball events this year are co-chaired by Barbara Crockett and Martha Bell Liner.
The Women’s Symphony League Fashion Show & Luncheon featuring Brandon Maxwell takes place at the JW Marriott Austin on Friday, September 23rd at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are available online or by calling (512) 476-5098. The 62nd Annual Jewel Ball takes place at the Palmer Events Center on Saturday, September 24th beginning at 7 p.m.