New York Botanical Garden’s Conservatory Ball

Cocktails at Sunset – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

On Thursday, June 1, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) held its annual black-tie Conservatory Ball. Over 500 hundred guests attended the ball supporting the Garden’s preeminent botanical research, Horticulture, and Children’s Education programs.

Artful Canapes – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The evening of cocktails served in and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory was followed by dinner and dancing in the Conservatory Tent. Sponsors of the event were Bancorp, Bartlett Tree Experts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Hearst, and Perrier-Jouet.

Laurel Marcus & Marilyn Kirschner

The gala celebrates a captivating, one-of-a-kind, major site-specific exhibition …things come to thrive…in the shedding…in the molting… by award-winning contemporary visual artist Ebony G. Patterson.

“This exhibition offers a visually sumptuous experience while also providing societal critique, delving into the intricate interplay of the natural world and its connections to race, gender, and colonialism.

Keith Estiler,

Left, Artist & Honorary Gala Chair Ebony G. Patterson – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Ms. Patterson, known for her lavishly detailed mixed media installations, “is the first artist to embed within the institution for an immersive residency” according to NYBG. She worked with the Garden’s grounds and collections to create a stunning collection of sculptures, installations, and interventions with living plants.

“Much of my work is about visibility and invisibility. How do I get people to look beneath the landscape? Below the surface of the glitter and the glimmer, there’s a secret that’s concealed” .

Ebony G. Patterson

The Vultures Take Over the NYBG – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

In this exhibition, which runs through September 17, Patterson challenges existing notions of what is traditionally beautiful while inviting us to see the beauty in molting, shedding, and decay. Pairing the NYBG, in all its natural splendor, with an innovative boundary-pushing artist like Jamaica-born Patterson, who uses beauty as a tool to address global injustices, makes for a compelling disruption.

The Garden’s lush and glorious flora and fauna are interspersed with monumental peacock sculptures and swarms of glitter-encrusted vultures. There seemed last night more vultures than guests.

NYBG President and CEO Jennifer Bernstein with Gala Chair Sharon Jacob – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

This year’s Chairs were Georgina Bloomberg, Sharon Jacob, Gillian Hearst, Jill Royce, Ravenel Curry and Jane Moss, Frederike K. Biggs, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Bartlett, Jr. Ms. Patterson served as Honorary Chair.

Hope Chilton in pink dress and cape – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Among the guests who tackled the heavy traffic as they Ubered from Manhattan to the Bronx were Sigourney Weaver, her husband Jim Simpson and daughter Charlotte Simpson, Fe Fendi, Amy Fine Collins, Flora Collins, Jean Shafiroff, Gillian Hearst, Arielle Patrick, Hope Chilton and Maureen Chilton, NYBG Chairman Emeritus.

A guest wearing a dreamy blue chiffon gown – Photo by Laurel Marcus

When the weather is perfect, as it was last night, there is almost no more beautiful backdrop for some pretty fabulous ensembles. Dress codes are all but passe, yet, the NYBG Conservatory Ball is one event where men and women pay heed to the Black Tie dress code.

A Study in Yellow; a guest wearing Tony Ward Couture – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Hence, almost all men wore tuxedos, and many women donned long gowns. One woman, a vision in yellow, upped the glamour quotient adding a yellow ostrich bag to match her Tony Ward Couture gown. Unfazed by the balmy, summer like temperatures, she carried Dennis Basso’s yellow mink jacket, just in case the evening got cooler.

Jean Shafiroff wearing Victor dE Souza Couture – Photo by Laurel Marcus

Jean Shafiroff, never one to let the opportunity to wear a ballgown pass her by, arrived in a dramatic flower-printed Victor dE Souza Couture creation with a train cape back. Still, many others were less formal and opted for cocktail attire.

Charlotte Simpson, Jim Simpson, Sigourney Weaver – Photo by Laurel Marcus

Among the women who defined the dress code their way was Charlotte Simpson in a coral orange pantsuit. The front of the jacket was almost entirely decorated with orange tulle.

Amy Fine Collins in Thom Browne and daughter Flora Collins in Alice + Olivia – Photo by Laurel Marcus

Amy Fine Collins refreshingly put her own spin on things with Thom Browne’s pastel-hued floral embellished skirt printed with a garden landscape. She wore it with a white shirt, red and pink striped tie, and a flower pot bag from Thom’s current collection. It could not have been more perfect, or more individual.

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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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