It’s a tradition to wear hats to the annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon thrown by the Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee. This year’s edition conjured Ascot, the Kentucky Derby, the Riviera, the runway, and Etsy ingenuity as it raised $3.5 million to maintain the park.
It started late Wednesday morning with men in white jackets extending their arms to escort guests into the park (read: an elegant affair). Then came gawking and mingling as attendees inspected the millinery jutting out, rising above and sliding off heads (read: the kind of fun that draws groups of friends back each year).
It’s almost impossible to single out a few hats from a sea of more than 1,200, but that’s the point. Laura McVey was cute as a button in a vintage Prada straw cloche. Stacey Bronfman wore a top hat “from the old days” that she inherited from her father-in-law, Edgar Bronfman Sr. Jenny Paulson was romantic in red, the color of her Suzanne fascinator and the carnations on her Dolce & Gabbana dress. Allison Mignone wore a Philip Treacy design with a hot pink flower and veil, one she won’t be wearing on family downtime in Montana.
Donya Bommer said she “peaked” in the hat department a few years ago, when she made a foil version of the fanciful topper Princess Beatrice wore to Prince William’s wedding. This year, she went with a tiara from an online beauty-pageant supply store.
“You know, I don’t do hats,” said designer Lela Rose, seated for lunch (pea soup, chicken curry salad) with Gillian Miniter, who almost literally had some bees in her bonnet. But rules are made to be broken. So when Rose heard former investment banker Tina Swartz was wearing one of her dresses, she ordered lavender-colored pencils and got out her glue gun.
It was the year of the French macaron, the miniature horse-drawn carriage and the fluffy toy puppy as topper, a reminder that Central Park is for everyone and its supporters can make hats out of anything.
Amy Tarr and two friends decided to represent the park’s new recycling receptacles. Tarr wore a hat decorated with newspapers, Lara Marcon one with trash (candy wrappers), and Sarah Kurita one with bottles and cans.
British milliner Stephen Jones was at his first FLO luncheon, fresh off designing magnificent headpieces for the Metropolitan Museum’s new Costume Institute show.
“It’s wonderful,” Jones said, surveying the tent filled with bobbing feathers, silk flowers and countless hairpins. “It’s like wearing a party on your head!”
Standing next to him was Lizzie Tisch, co-founder of the private fashion boutique Suite 1521, sporting a dramatic creation by Jones and Thom Browne. Tisch described the hat as her “little black dress,” with a torso on top adding a foot to her height and the pouffy skirt as a wide brim.
As she bowed her head to show it off, Jones spotted and fixed a wardrobe malfunction.
“I had to pop your right breast out!” Jones said.
“Do my boobs look bigger now?” Tisch replied.