The First Wednesday in May

It’s late April, and Met Gala fever has hit big time. The event seemingly gets bigger, more anticipated, and more talked about (before AND after) each year. It was the subject of an article written by Matthew Schneier that appeared in the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, “A Party to Mark the Met’s Monday”.

And just when you thought that wasn’t even possible, it’s profile just got a little bit higher. Andrew Rossi’s documentary, “The First Monday in May” which follows the “creation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most “attended fashion exhibition in history, (“China: Through The Looking Glass”) and the accompanying party, opened with a very public world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last Wednesday, and the next day, everywhere you looked, there were images of Anna Wintour with Robert De Niro. This was followed by its L.A. premier on April 15th, with yet another A-List crowd in attendance.

Bryan Lourd and Anna Wintour attend ‘The First Monday
in  May’ premier in Los Angeles

FYI, for this event, Anna wore Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein’s photo printed animal patterned coat and dress from his terrific Fall/Winter 2016 collection shown in February (it was one of his strongest). Coincidentally (or not), just yesterday there was news that both Francisco and Italo Zucchelli are out at Calvin Klein, as “part of a global revolution in the direction of the Calvin Klein brand.” Yup, another case of fashion musical chairs. There was even a rumor that Raf Simons might be the one to take over as creative director for the label. Personally, I think that would be brilliant!

Bette Midler attends a past FLO Awards Luncheon
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

But the Met Gala, (which is always the first Monday in May), is not the only celebratory rite of spring to greet us next month. The Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon has been held on the first Wednesday in May since its inception 34 years ago and this year, that day is May 4th. It was started by a group of 75 women whose goal was to “increase awareness from the private sector to support the restoration of Central Park”. (Nearly $3.6 million was raised last year). Originally held at Tavern on the Green, it has been tented in the park since 1987, and perfectly situated in the glorious Central Park Conservancy gardens for as long as most of us can remember. And almost always, the weather cooperates; all the better to appreciate the lush beauty around you.

Central Park Conservancy gardens
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

This year’s honorees are Stephanie and Fred Shuman and approximately 1250 guests, mainly woman (who will have paid $1000 for a ticket), will attend. It’s a wonderfully eclectic New York mix that includes those from the public and private sectors representing the worlds of business, entertainment, politics, media, publishing, design, art, and fashion.

Carol McDermott in a hand made house hat
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

While it’s not a fashion event per se and it’s hardly a fashion spectacle in the same category as the Met Gala it is a fashion spectacle nonetheless, where hats take center stage. Ascot “Schmascot”! The Easter Parade? Amateur hour! The Kentucky Derby? Feh! It’s one of those events where you actually feel almost obscenely naked if you go hatless. And you really cannot overdo it. As silly as you might feel at home in your ensemble, once you arrive, you find you fit right in.

Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

If you’re among those planning to attend, you most likely have already purchased your chapeau, but in case you haven’t (or you’re just looking for a great hat) I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite statement makers. From the (somewhat) classic to the whimsical, edgy, and just plain extraordinary, they are sure to turn heads and are anything but ‘garden variety’. I mean that literally, because I am purposely staying away from typical flower decorated designs as they are so predictable.

Instead of flowers, what about a bow? The bigger the better, as exemplified by this vintage Frank Olive mod red straw hat with oversized black patent leather bow, $475.Click here for more info/buy

Instead of flowers, think leaves; all the better if feathers and rhinestones are added to the mix, as illustrated by this Jack McConnell pink leaf hat, $1895. Click here for more info/buy

Feathers are always delightful, especially when red is used with black. A perfect example is this Givenchy Haute Couture red and black feathered headband, $1250. Click here for more info/buy

Speaking of Givenchy Haute Couture, I love the bright graphic stripes on this 1990’s dramatic straw hat, $750. Click here for more info/buy

If you’re going to wear a boater, make it Thom Browne’s crownless woven straw boater, $1820. For more info/buy

Everyone will be ‘green’ with envy when they see your chic 1970’s vintage Adolfo green wide brim hat with feathers, $475.Click for more info/buy

Or this huge 1940’s Irina Roublon lime green organza petal brimmed hat, $1200.Click here for more info/buy

One way you are guaranteed to stand out in a crowd of floral prints, brights and saccharin sweet pastels is by wearing something edgy in black, decorated with metal studs or chains, like this Comme des Garcons leather studded headband, $905.74. Click here for more info/buy

Or this rare vintage black lambskin leather Chanel hat with gold chain decoration, $3955, as seen on Rihanna. Click here for more info/buy

There’s also this Nicolas Guesquiere designed Balenciaga black leather cap trimmed with gold chains, $650.58. Click here for more info/buy

If you subscribe to the idea that “Life is just a bowl of cherries” this 1950’s Arthur Rubin whimsical cherry hat, $475, has your name on it. Click here for more info/buy

Are you naturally optimistic? Eugenia Kim’s “Sunny” wide brimmed straw sun hat with black swan embroidery is perfect with a little black dress or simple pantsuit, $495.Click here for more info/buy

Are you more of a neutral gal? I love the shape and texture of this 1950’s Schiaparelli black silk and tulle hat covered in black and tobacco brown raffia, $518.17. Click here for more info/buy

If you want to communicate with nature and gravitate towards the whimsical and surrealist, you can’t go wrong with this rare 1950’s frog hat designed by Bes Ben, which is guaranteed to a put a smile on everyone’s face. Click here for more info/buy

Another whimsical choice is this Italian 1950’s figural pickle straw sun hat, $1295. Click here for more info/buy

If you’re a bit camera shy, this one’s got you ‘covered’. I especially love the Burberry like plaid. It’s the perfect chapeau to pair with a chic Burberry tan trench (something to keep in mind if it’s rainy). Click here for more info/buy

If you want to catch the eye of one famous photographer (Bill Cunningham) whom we all know and love, and who always attends this event, perhaps no better way to do so, is to wear a hat of his design. You’re in luck because 1stdibs has for sale, this black and white ostrich feathered number with a “William” label. Before Bill’s career as a photographer, he was a milliner in the 1940’s and 50’s working under the name William J., an abbreviation of his name. Click here for more info/buy

– 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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