The Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon

In case you thought the Gods were just smiling down at the opening gala of the “Goddess” Exhibition at the Met last week, think again. As they say, “It never rains on the annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon”, and this year was no exception. The Gods were certainly doing their thing because the weather was positively heaven sent- in fact, it was the only really beautiful day in a rather gloomy week.

This popular event which attracts over 1000 guests from all over (who pay anywhere from $500 and up) is “the biggest annual fundraiser for the Central Park Conservancy” according to Jennifer Pucci, the Manager of Public Relations, and to prove it, a “record $3 million has been raised this time around”. To mark the park’s 150 year anniversary, Hermes is offering a limited edition scarf in the Jardin Enchante pattern which was first introduced in 1986. Available at Hermes Madison Avenue, the blue/green or black/gold scarf will sell for $270 and Hermes will donate 25% of each sale to the Central Park Conservancy. By the way, this pattern also served as the underlying theme for the décor of today’s luncheon.

But in addition to raising money for a good cause (let’s face it, the park is the crown jewel of our city), the luncheon is also a fashion show of major proportions. It is most obvious that those in attendance carefully plot and plan their outfits, particularly, their hats, and in fact, the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon can easily compete with Derby Day or Ascot in terms of fantastical and unusual headgear. Patricia Underwood, the award- winning milliner, who was in attendance for the first time, was proudly spotting many guests wearing her designs both past and present.

Not only were there the beautiful if somewhat predictable floral trimmed beauties, but several opted for feathers, including myself in black Kokin ostrich feathers, and there were even a few butterfly- decorated stunners. Standouts included socialite Jamie Gregory’s oversized yellow straw hat (see photo) from Suzanne on Madison Avenue worn with Marc Jacobs’ very coveted pale yellow boucle wool coat from this past spring/summer collection. And Democratic fundraiser/vintage collector Lisa Perry, opted for an eye popping hot pink Dior feathered hat (see photo) that she ‘won’ at the last Doyle New York vintage couture and textile auction. Lisa was also wearing a wonderful vintage pale green wool Courreges tunic, and toted the coveted colorful and whimsical new Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton bag. She was not alone, I spotted this hard to find trophy on a few other women, who were all ‘mum’ about where and how they got so lucky (as you know, there is a very very long waiting list).

The Perrier-Jouet champagne reception was followed by a lunch prepared by Abigail Kirsch with wines courtesy of Brancott Vineyards of New Zealand. In addition, each guest received a pin specially designed by Joan Rivers and the signature annual gift of a Wathne umbrella. But since “It never rains on the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards”, I doubt anyone will ever need to carry their umbrella to one of these events anytime soon.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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