Go with the ‘FLO’: The 28th Annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon

Lisa Marie Falcone wearing a Graff diamond butterfly pin on her Suzanne large brimmed hat which accessorized her floor length vintage Valentino dress

You know the old adage: “You can set your watch by it” (whatever ‘IT’ is). Well, similarly, you can literally forecast the weather by the scheduling of the annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon, (the first Wednesday in May), now in its 28th year. I never get tired of reiterating that it not only NEVER (or almost never) rains on this wildly popular and always highly anticipated New York event. In fact, the day is usually picture perfect in every way. The legend lives on…

Fabiola Arias in her own rope hat

Yesterday was in fact, as good as it gets. Low humidity, plenty of sunshine (it was quite warm in fact), and blue blue skies. All the better to appreciate the lush beauty of the glorious Central Park Conservatory Gardens, which has been the signature location for as long as most of us can remember (at its beginnings, which started with a group of 75 women who wanted to “increase awareness from the private sector to support the restoration of Central Park”, it was held at Tavern on the Green). While this is not a ‘fashion’ event, it has nonetheless become a fashion spectacle of other worldly proportions and I don’t have to point out that there could be no better setting for a fashion parade, especially one in which hats take center stage. Actually, I’ll go a step further and say that you almost feel obscenely ‘naked’ if you go hatless. Ascot Schmascot! The Easter Parade? Amateur night. Kentucky Derby? Feh!

Ralph Lauren shorts suit

But most importantly, the ‘FLO’ Awards Luncheon is the ideal combination of looking good AND doing good. The approximately 1200 well heeled and dressed to the nine guests (who were seated at 120 tables), raised just under 2.5 million dollars, which will go to further the Conservancy’s work throughout Central Park, continuing to make it beautiful, safe and clean.

Yankee cap and Hermes bag

As usual, the attendees (not just New Yorkers by the way) represented a true cross section of society including major philanthropists, prominent social figures, screen legends, business and real estate tycoons, etc. While it is undeniably a heavily female group, each year it seems there are more and more men and in fact, for the first time, there was a man’s table organized by Jeff Peek.

Black & white and very Chanel

Among those who attended: Deputy Mayor Patti Harris; New York State’s First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Sigourney Weaver, Susan Newhouse, Hilary Geary Ross, Susan Gutfreund, Amy Fine Collins, Fe Fendi, Martha Stewart, Somers Farkas, Peggy Siegel, Grace Hightower DeNiro, Karen LeFrak, Tara Rockefeller, Evelyn Lauder, Doug Blonsky (Central Park Conservancy President), Gillian Miniter (the Women’s Committee President), Betsey Messerschmitt, Patsy and Jeff Tarr (the latter three were this year’s honorees). Co-chairs were Noreen Buckfire, Anne Harrison, Marcia Mishaan, and Sarah Robertson; the Corporate Chair was Thomas Glocer, CEO of Thomson Reuters.

Yuta Powell and her bagel bag

There were corporate tables sponsored by Bloomberg, Thompson Reuters, Graff, Dior, and Chanel, and looking at the last three names might explain why Lisa Marie Falcone affixed an amazing Graff diamond butterfly pin to her Suzanne large brimmed hat which accessorized her floor length vintage Valentino dress. And it certainly explains all the Chanel purses (if it wasn’t Chanel it was Hermes), Chanel or Chanel inspired black dresses, tweed jackets, and ropes of pearls (especially some in exaggeratedly oversized proportions).

Patsy and Jeff Tarr

But because of the opening of the new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity”, I have the free spirit of American women with style on my mind, and so, I found myself especially drawn to those who stood out because they did not go for the nice but rather predictable ‘garden’ variety safe little dresses or skirt suits, but instead, asserted their independence. Good examples include Patsy Tarr wearing an Isaac Mizrahi black and ivory dress and jacket, a hat by Suzanne (a popular milliner who was also an attendee), and carrying a Lanvin handbag adorned with large flowers.

Suzanne Newman in Prada and L’Wren Scott

The milliner Suzanne Newman who paired a printed Prada dress with a sequined cardigan by L’Wren Scott, and wore a hat of her own design; the young milliner Fabiola Arias, who wore an unusual and very summery hat made of ropes; Madison Avenue boutique owner Yuta Powell who carried a wood bag in the shape of a bagel (how New York is that???); two young women in Ralph Lauren: one who wore a khaki utility jumpsuit and another in a white Ralph Lauren tailored jacket and short shorts (her legs were great and she definitely carried this off with aplomb); and because I’m a Yankee fan, I truly appreciated the brave soul who eschewed a traditional chapeaux and opted for a Yankee baseball cap which she wore with a navy pinstripe pantsuit and a red alligator Hermes Birkin bag.

Amy Fine Collins

But in terms of pure chic, nobody compared with Amy Fine Collins who turned up in a fitted and very narrow pale lilac skirt suit which had a pronounced leopard collar, that matched the leopard turban like hat (designer unknown). All I can say is she that must have been sweltering in the 90 degree heat but she sure looked great.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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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  2. Amy Fine Collins is wearing a Dior lilac suit with leopard trip lapel and a matching Dior hat.

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