New York Botanical Garden Conservatory Ball Raises Over $1.6 Million Dollars

Chairs Deborah Royce in Oscar de la Renta, Alexandra Lebenthal
in Peter Copping, Gillian Miniter in Oscar de la Renta
All photos Lieba Nesis

The Botanical Garden celebrated its 125th Anniversary at its Bronx location with an annual black-tie on Thursday June 2, with a cocktail hour that began at 7:30 PM. This event gathers an illustrious group of businessmen, designers and philanthropists paying homage to this incredible institution which has existed since 1891.

Muffie Potter Aston in Badgley Mischka with famed plastic surgeon Sherrell Aston, Mary Davidson and Susan Burke both wearing Lee Andersen.

This year included philanthropists and socialites: Sylvester and Gillian Miniter, Muffie and Sherrell Aston, Alexandra Lebenthal and Jay Diamond, Judith and Rudy Giuliani, Kick Kennedy and Ariana Rockefeller, as well as fashion luminaries Peter Copping, Eliza Bolen, Eric Javits, Di Mondo and designer “Milly” Michelle Smith.

Stepdaughter of Oscar de la Renta Eliza Reed Bolen
in Oscar de la Renta

The Garden partnered with Oscar de la Renta for this year’s extravaganza and there was more Oscar at the cocktail party than at the Academy Awards (Oscar statuettes and dresses included).  With more than 600 guests from New York and Greenwich high-society gathered in the Herb Garden with a backdrop of 250 acres of dazzling landscape this night is one of those can’t misses on the social calendar.

Kate Crone in Vintage Oscar with Chanel necklace and Ariana Rockefeller
in Oscar de la Renta

This event also ushered in the exhibition “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas” which examines the influence of these gardens and nature on masters such as John Singer Sargent and Childe Hassam and which will be on view through September 11th. In the gallery was a display of more than 20 paintings and sculptures by these artists and their contemporaries that capture the ephemeral quality of light they observed in the natural world.

Reya Benitez in Andrew Warren, designer Andrew Warren,
and Gaia Matisse in Andrew Warren

The Garden is an oasis in the middle of the Bronx that provides a respite to the overly concretized environment New Yorkers are bombarded with. Tonight Alexandra Lebenthal, who co-chaired the evening for the second year, said the importance of the Garden should not be underestimated as it contains more plant specimens than anywhere in the world and pharmaceutical research is conducted on these samples.

Maureen Chilton, with Deborah Royce, Alexandra Lebenthal
and Gillian Miniter in the background

While she was conversing with socialite Gillian Miniter, who wore a ravishing black Oscar gown with pink flowers, Sylvester Miniter spoke of the recent Met Gala where he said the Hollywood and celebrity scene rivaled that of the Academy Awards. Sylvester and Gillian will not be doing the Hamptons scene as they prefer to summer in Europe-a sentiment I understand.

Todd Meister with Megan Sharpe in Oscar de la Renta and Natalie Kaplan.

As the guests headed to the Conservatory Tent for dinner and dancing we were led through lush woods and greenery and finally to a lavish pink-hued tent that contained magnificent chandeliers and a spectacular dance floor. Maureen Chilton, Chairman of the Board at the Botanical Garden gave a rousing speech highlighting the importance of the Garden followed by President Gregory Long who reiterated its significance in this “topsy turvy world.”

Peter Copping of Oscar de la Renta

Long said that over 90,000 students from underprivileged communities benefit from the educational programs and the Garden has set world standards in plant research and conservation programs.  After Long informed me that over $1.6 million had been raised, I spotted Peter Copping in the crowd trying to remain inconspicuous in a crowd full of admirers. As I exited the vast tent, I picked up a goody bag which contained Oscar de la Renta salt and pepper shakers – a welcome addition to my formerly Oscar-less kitchen.

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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