NYBG Winter Wonderland Ball Gets Mother Nature Onboard

On a snowy, snowy Friday night in a borough far, far away a wondrous gala was held. The 19th annual New York Botanical Garden Winter Wonderland Ball featuring the Holiday Train Show never fails to enchant — which became my mantra as it took steel nerves to get there in the thematic yet treacherous weather.

Women in Etro

The beautiful scenery of greenery, lights, and locomotion always includes miniature replicas of New York landmarks from all five boroughs and helps to get one in the festive mood required for the season. This year’s sponsors were Etro, Saks Fifth Avenue and Remy Martin — the Etro clad attendees were easy to spot as the Italian brand has a very recognizable intricately printed aesthetic.

Celebrity Stylist Micaela Erlanger

Another dress theme was sparkle aplenty as attendees such as Hollywood stylist Micaela Erlanger, philanthropist Jean Shafiroff and others wore silver fairy dust in the form of tinsel and even mirror shards. Designer Victor DE Souza who created Jean’s dress wanted it to look like she had walked through a mirror which broke in pieces on her gown. No matter the intent, the result was showstopping with matching “broken mirror” gloves and crystal earrings to accessorize.

Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff & designer Victor DE Souza

Interestingly, there were very few ball gowns compared to years past, with most guests opting for something on the long and slinky side — no doubt having something to do with the increasingly younger crowd featuring many Millennial children of prominent social New York families.

Elizabeth Kurpis & Ariana Rockefeller

Prominent guests including those involved in chairing the event included Georgina Bloomberg, Natalie and James Bloomingdale, Ariana Rockefeller, Christina Greeven Cuomo, Nina Agdal, Elizabeth Kurpis, Mia Moretti, Timo Weiland, and Peter Brant Jr.

Charlotte Diamond & Alexandra Lebenthal with Marilyn Kirschner

It was a family affair for Chairman of the Board Maureen Chilton whose husband Richard and daughters Sarah and Charlotte attended as well as for Honorary Chair Alexandra Lebenthal accompanied by husband Jay Diamond, daughter Charlotte Diamond (who currently attends Princeton University and wants to work at Vogue), and son Ben.

Lookonline editor-in-chief Marilyn Kirschner

Our own Marilyn Kirschner garnered perhaps the most attention in her statement making Alice + Olivia sequin applique ball gown skirt featuring colorful dancing bears from last year’s Grateful Dead collection. My husband actually referred to it as a “chick magnet” since so many stylish young women including Mia Moretti (a good friend of A+O designer Stacey Bendet) and two fashionable attendees from Moda Operandi stopped to comment. Marilyn is a true genius in accessorizing opting for a Club Monaco white fabric neckpiece and a white leather belt to draw in the waist of her skirt.

Laurel Marcus in Ralph Lauren Collection

For once, I opted for sleek simplicity in a “Morticia goes sexy” business in the front, party in the back Ralph Lauren Collection (season unknown) silk, satin gown with jet beaded sleeves and a slight train — from Roundabout Consignment on Madison and my favorite stylist Patrick Jones Roth.

Vintage clothing curator Kate Krone in Chanel

On a sad note, this was the second year that Bill Cunningham was not there to document the fashion; a fact that has somewhat dampened the spirit and decreased attendance at many New York soirees. I remember well the palm frond that Bill told me to pull down on in 2015 on what would be his last trek (fittingly he would arrive on the train) to this event. When you heard his trademark “call the cat” whispering noise indicating that he wanted you to pose for him, it was a thrill like no other.

Unfortunately those images of me were never used — the third time that I failed to make the final cut (after once being included due to a unique headpiece) but of course, it was truly an honor just to be nominated and picked out of the crowd of party-goers. Of course, everyone made an effort to dress for Bill and vie for his attention which also made things amusing.

Tonight the cocktail hour held in the “glistening dome of the Palms of the World Gallery” seemed to kick off a bit more slowly as traffic and weather snarls may have delayed many. By 9 p.m. guests began to file down the long (cold) tented hallway to the large dinner tent which looked festively decorated with blue lighting.

The dinner

Once there guests posed, dined and danced the night away, or at least until midnight. Funds raised support the world-renowned NYBG Children’s Education Program and the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, a 12-acre indoor-outdoor facility featuring themed galleries and interactive exhibits.


– Laurel Marcus

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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