National Geographic : 2006 Mar
they were largely unachievable: 1) marry unlimited wealth, 2) exhibit impeccable taste, 3) keep your accent but never sound dumb, and finally, 4) be nice, even if you don't feel like it. She knew that display wasn't a bad thing, you just had to be care ful about what you showed off. Wyatt's life was novel for its time, but her successors-the Ladies Who Would Be Lynn- must adapt to a different era. Some have chosen to play the game a bit more sedately. Courtney Sarofim, the daugh ter of Elyse Lanier, wasn't above party-girl behavior in her youth, but now she's the respectable mother of a three-year-old, drives an SUV, dines with her extended family on Sunday After Hurri . After Hurri nights, and supports local char husband, R ities. "The model used to be you ,, the Barnes went to Europe," Elyse Lanier rooftop, to says. Now these young women rooftop, to are active in family foundations." Becca Cason Thrash, a more traditional exhibitionista, has built on Wyatt's passion for fashion and spectacle. Once a publicist for Toot sies, a pricey River Oaks boutique, she married an heir to a natural gas storage business and now has a glass-ceilinged kitchen with a party room above, attends couture shows in France, and has made friends with Fergie and the Shrivers. Becca's fetes are organized with far more preci sion than the Iraqi invasion: The chic are fussed over, the overweight are not permitted, and at least one person usually falls into her gigantic indoor pool, accidentally on purpose. The presence of George and Barbara Bush in Houston has politicized the competition. The Bushes are too studiously sedate to live in River Oaks (they chose a more nondescript neighbor hood), but their friends aren't. Nancy Kinder, whose husband, Richard, escaped Enron long before its fall, was one of George W's chief Texas fund-raisers during his re-election campaign and now has a regular table at La Griglia, the cane Katrina, Amanda Brock, in purple, and her obert, went to the Astrodome to help. They invited family, who were airlifted off a New Orleans stay at their second home on a nearby ranch. River Oaks lunch spot of choice. Maria Bush, the new wife of the President's younger brother Neil, is suddenly a regular in River Oaks circles, as is her coterie of once obscure girlfriends. And unlike in Wyatt's heyday, Houston now has its working rich like everyplace else. The wife of one scion is running a prestigious art gallery, another oversees a nonprofit organization cov ering the Houston arts scene. And Susan Criner, a talent booker for society parties and corporate bashes, has managed to become one of River Oaks' most well-liked hostesses-despite the absence of the obligatory billion, a signal change if ever there was one. And so, Lynn Wyatt's River Oaks is a more worldly place, well-stocked with smart women who know from Birkin bags and Blahniks. Still, I'm grateful for the last vestiges of excessive excess. Perfect taste, after all, isn't everything. [ , Nominate your favorite zip code for coverage in the magazine at ngm.com/0603.