New York Botanical Garden Orchid Dinner

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Phalaenopsis and cattleya and dendrobiums, oh my! It was an orchid lover’s (and fashion lover’s) paradise on Thursday night at The Plaza hotel as the New York Botanical Garden held its 20th annual Orchid dinner to a crowd of nearly 400 guests.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

In celebration of The Orchid Show: Natural Heritage on display at NYBG through April 23, the gala raised over $800K to support NYBG’s global plant research, conservation, and education initiatives.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

This was my fifth (non-consecutive) time attending the cocktail hour for this event, and like everything else on the New York social scene, it’s gotten a lot younger and hipper than in years past.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

In the ballroom’s anteroom, the rare orchid auction offered a chance to sniff an orchid or two while downing a cocktail, hors d’oeuvres, or both. It was a good spot to observe people and their fashion choices, such as a gentleman in an orchid-printed shirt and pants.

Tyler McGillivary
Photo by Laurel Marcus

He informed me that the designer was Tyler McGillivary (@tylermgillivary), and in true fairy godmother mode, she suddenly appeared like magic to spell her name for me. She had also dressed another young friend in a gown made of flower appliqués.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

Moving into the always breathtaking ballroom displayed with endless tablescapes – several thematic and colorful, others monochromatic and elegant, is indeed overwhelming at first. So many large-scale beautiful floral displays vying for attention that give a “kid in a candy shop feeling,” but I dutifully tried to visit each one without  initially playing favorites.

Olivia Rose
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Olivia Rose (@Original Rose on IG) first caught my eye for her provocative black leather bustier and skirt with a protruding black leather feather or arrow arising from the small of her back to over her head. The designer of this fit was none other than SEKS, recently made famous or infamous by Julia Fox, who went viral in their “Titty Smasher” bikini top and became instrumental in a collab between Hanes and the indie fashion brand.

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Ms. Rose’s somewhat understated (or “simple” as she calls it) creation consisted of a “rock” formation sparingly adorned with orchids. “You have to make it work for you,” she said, adding that the formidable process of transporting and creating these displays has to be disassembled at the end of the night and either taken back home or (heartbreakingly) disposed of.

Chris Goddard
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Chris Goddard (@goddarddesigngroup), in his ethnic caftan, fabulous gold charm necklace, and jawbreaker-sized colorful rings, also made an outsized impression. Goddard, who hails from Palm Beach, brought his (exhausted) mama Crockett from Arkansas to assist him in his Moroccan-inspired fantastical display.

Chris Goddard Table
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Crockett (yes, like Davey) remarked on the entire set-up process — I caught her sitting (wearing a lovely coat of damask baroque florals) in one of the beautiful fabric-draped chairs, which she quickly arose from when she saw me photographing her sons’ work.

JL Goodman
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Unlike the other two exhibitors, John Goodman’s orchid sculpture was visible before he was, but as soon as I saw him, it all made perfect sense. @JLGoodman on IG presented a whimsical aquatic-themed tablescape with coral, fish, and orchids that made you stop. I later saw him in his white “sailor suit” and “swam” over to him through the sea of admirers for a closer look.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

As far as what guests wore to take in all this beauty, it ran the gamut from “flowers to an orchid show? Groundbreaking!” (insert eye roll and “Devil Wears Prada” attribution here) to far–from-basic black with cut-outs or just bare skin galore.

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Others chose to wear orchid colors rather than flowers, including a long geometric skirt by Christopher John Rogers recently seen on Deborah Roberts and several other celebs.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

While some of the OG mucky-mucks were still kicking it brocade style in their Carolina Herrera, Oscars, or other Park Avenue designers (no doubt throwing their old money around in support), a new breed of botanical garden enthusiasts turned it out in their outrageous skin show of backs, bellies, and boobs.

Guy wearing Christopher John Rogers
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

From a woman baring her pregnant belly a la Rihanna (why on Earth did she have to make that a thing?) to plunging or dipping rear views exposing giant upper back tats or one draped so low it threatened to expose the top of panties or a whole lot more.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

However, my “favorite” creative use of an orchid incorporated into attire had to be the woman in a long black gown with a strategically placed fuchsia orchid over one breast – and nothing else. Certainly makes Lil’ Kim’s purple pasty moment at the 1999 MTV-VMA seem like an amateur hour, even if Diana Ross did “pat “her down. #orchidpasty — can we get it trending?

Latest Comments:

  1. Thank you for that RF….yes..it’s an ongoing complaint..and it is NOT about looking young..it’s about looking and feeling great and…

  2. So refreshing to see you aging gracefully and looking fabulous! Too many people fixated on looking young instead of appreciating…

  3. Hi Marilyn..”ABOUT TURNING 75″….You can add me to your almost 75 llist…Oct 29th of this year. I am so glad…

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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