On Thursday evening, New York’s spring gala scene officially returned with the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Dinner. Held at the Plaza Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, it was underwritten by Guerlain Paris, Hearst, and Veranda Magazine.
This enchanting event, now in its 19th year, was attended by approximately 250 people. It serves as the critical fundraiser for NYBG’s enviable orchid collection and a precursor to the Orchid Show.
This year’s installation, Jeff Leatham’s Kaleidoscope, makes its return to The Garden on February 26 after being cut short in 2020. The show will run through May 1.
The design chair for the event was Steele Marcoux, Editor-in-Chief, Veranda. Martha Stewart, Maureen K. Chilton, Tina, Steven R. Swartz, Edward, Julia Weld, and Jeff Leatham. The renowned floral designer, who counts some of the most high-profile celebrities as clients, serves as the artistic director of the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris.
Leatham was knighted in Paris with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and is also the bestselling author of the book “Jeff Leatham: Visionary Floral Art and Design.” Color is the most essential aspect of Leatham’s designs. It’s always about achieving that “WOW” factor. Indeed, this show is a horticultural spectacle, and it will not disappoint.
The evening began with cocktails and the sale of exceptional and rare orchids, followed by dinner and dancing in the Grand Ballroom. As always, the spotlight is on the exquisite display of orchid centerpieces.
Each of the glorious tables was punctuated by the resplendent, thoroughly imaginative, and inventive over-scaled orchid centerpieces created by the country’s most talented designers, florists, and creators. They are unquestionably the stars of the evening.
The dress code was cocktail attire. Many opted for New York black, including Jeff Leatham, who lives with so much color, he gravitates to its polar opposite when it comes to his sartorial choices. Robert Rufino, the Senior Style Director of House Beautiful, looked dapper and subdued in a black and charcoal pinstripe suit.
I met Robert decades ago when he was at Geoffrey Beene. We then worked together at Harper’s Bazaar, where he held the title of Fashion Director.
Martha Stewart, seated next to Carolina Herrera’s Wes Gordon, was a study in white accessorized with pearls. When I asked who designed her outfit, she said The Row. I didn’t hear it the first time, so she spelled it out R-0-E. When I corrected Martha, she laughed and said she was obviously thinking about her caviar. Only Martha!
Artist and jeweler Soull Ogun, Principle Designer/Co-Founder at L’Enchanteur, accessorized her shimmery green pantsuit with a matching beret and jewelry from her collection. The lavender trainers were the perfect color accent for an evening that celebrates flowers and nature.
Naturally, several guests factored in the theme of the evening and opted to wear florals. Model, actress, and DJ Leigh Lezark looked relaxed and comfortable in feather-trimmed floral-patterned pajamas by Valentino and black platform sandals.
Jennifer Shanker, a fine jewelry veteran and founder of the Muse showroom, wore Dries Van Noten’s black wide-legged trousers punctuated with a splashy floral print. Jennifer’s black sequined jacket was from the Mr. Mickey Collection, designed by Mickey Boardman. Rachel Burrow toughened up her floral dress with a black rain slicker from Stutterheim.
Socialite and philanthropist Sharon Jacob blended into her table perfectly with her pastel floral skirt and white sweater by Alexander McQueen. Sharon is currently spending more time in Florida but returns to New York in the spring.
Ms. Jacob is on the Central Park Conservancy Women’s Committee. She is already considering what to wear to the upcoming Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon in May. I guess it’s never too soon to start figuring it out!
My orchid printed skirt and sweater were purchased at…drumroll, please… H&M 7 years ago! I was going to the 2015 Orchid Dinner, which was held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in those years. When I saw the two pieces in the window of the H&M store on East 86th Street, I thought they were perfect.
Bill Cunningham was there. He loved my outfit, but he loved it even more, when I told him who made it and how much I paid ($200 for both pieces). Needless to say, my picture made Bill’s coverage of the event that Sunday!
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