In the Market Report

 Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon

Damp soggy weather is hardly a recipe for having a ‘good hair’ day. But when you’re attending an event where hats take center stage, and you, and almost everyone sartorially follows suit, it hardly matters. Such was the case Wednesday when approximately 1250 guests (85% women) descended upon the Central Park Conservancy at 5th Avenue and 105th street, where they were escorted down the steps by attractive young men in waiting, in celebration of the annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon.

Fe Fendi and Di Mondo

Among the men in attendance was former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, publicity maven James LaForce, and man about town Di Mondo who arrived with Fe Fendi and stole the show with his Gucci suit and fantastical bird strewn straw hat.This wildly popular fundraiser (the premier event of the Conservancy Women’s Committee) has been held on the first Wednesday in May since its inception 34 years ago. $3.9 million was raised this year.”

Co-Chairmen were Suzie Aijala, Shelley Carr, Patti Fast, and Amelia Ogunlesi. This year’s honorees were Stephanie and Alfred A. Schuman who funded the restoration of the Central Park Reservoir with a $5 million gift. One of the reasons they did this is because it carried warm memories of family bonding. It has been renamed in their honor and dedicated to the children of New York.

Ladies that do lunch

Before the start of a three course lunch (courtesy Union Square Catering) that featured grilled chicken paillard, the Schumans addressed the assembled guests. Mr. Schuman looked around and announced: “This is the greatest show on earth!” Indeed it is a fashion spectacle (of a completely different sort than the Costume Institute Gala) and one that seems to get bigger and better each year.

Guest with her white fur coat

It has been said that it “never rains on the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards” and well, this was one of those rare, unusual times when the weather did not cooperate. (Quite frankly, this is the worst weather I can remember having in the first week of May). Yes, there was a light rain at times but the event was completely tented, so weather was really not an issue. And anyway, the dreary weather could not dampen the high spirits and good feelings that abounded (everyone was laughing and smiling, and taking pictures of everyone else). FYI, it was not “Purple Rain” but everyone received a Wathne limited edition umbrella in hot pink.

Kathy Prounis

And the decidedly fall like chill in the air certainly did not deter guests from wearing sleeveless shifts, wispy chiffon dresses, or just about anything else they had decided upon. When I asked Kathy Prounis, (who was wearing a sleeveless purple Lanvin dress which boasted a beautiful ruffled lace encased back), if she was cold, she laughed and said that the “adrenaline from this event was keeping her warm”. I was so cold I had actually contemplated wearing a Comme des Garcons puffer jacket but opted instead for a vintage Geoffrey Beene lightly quilted cotton coat in white with a large black floral design so I was really not surprised to see several women wearing furs. One was dressed in all white with a white fox coat to match.

Suzanne Sealy with the hat her husband made for her

But let’s face it. It’s all about the hats, and they were there in every variety imaginable. And while some were rather plain and ordinary, many were statement makers, if not architectural wonders. There were hats that were flower adorned; hats that were feathered; and hats that gave a nod to nature (birds, butterflies). There were hats that were handmade and hats that were homemade.  I complimented one woman (Suzanne Sealy, a jewelry designer) on her large floral hat and she told me her “amazingly talented” husband made it for her on Sunday. I found that so amusing because not only could I never imagine my husband making a hat for me, he laughed when he saw me wearing my floral crown before I left this morning!

Jean Shafiroff

There were hats that looked like dessert (candy, ice cream cones, cream puffs), and hats in chicly graphic patterns. Jean Shafiroff’s black and white houndstooth checked hat adorned with black roses, (created by famed milliner Suzanne), mimicked (but was larger than) the black & white check of her Michael Kors coat.

Yum! Dessert…

There was even a hat that was surrealistic; perfect for our surrealistic world lol. (The talk at our table during lunch was all about the news that last evening, Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party).

Amy Fine Collins

Amy Fine Collins accessorized her Thom Browne seersucker pantsuit with his vertiginous surrealist tie hat. I was so glad when I saw this and had been hoping someone would wear it. I loved it because she really stood out. It was a creative nod to menswear which is something many guests overlook; opting instead for rather traditionally feminine ensembles.

– 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.

1 Comment
  1. Amazing dresses with great combination of hats. Looks like they are just the ideal way to make you look beautiful.

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