NYBG 2024 Conservatory Ball

Botanical Gardens – photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Yes, the whole world has gone down a rabbit hole, and what better place to embrace it than NYBG’s Conservatory Ball, primarily when this year’s theme celebrated “Wonderland: Curious Nature,” currently on view until October 27.

Shrumen Lumen by FoldHaus, Photo by BFA

A giant plant-encrusted rabbit was seen in the distance as we pulled into the valet parking situation – a few lit-up giant toadstools turned color after dark, but disappointingly, no signs saying “Eat Me” or “Drink Me” to be found. In my opinion, it was a missed opportunity, but maybe it was too provocative for this crowd.

Tina Leung wearing Oscar de la Renta a sponsor of the event – Photo by BFA

Ball guests were promised an evening of “magic and whimsy” immersed in an environment “inspired by the fantastical settings of the beloved literary classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the uncanny world she encounters at the bottom of the rabbit hole.” Funds raised from the sold-out evening benefited The Botanical Garden’s preeminent botanical research, horticulture, and children’s educational programs.

Jennifer Creel, Marcia Mishaan, Muffie Potter Aston, Ashley McDermott, Hilary Dick – Photo by BFA

There is something magical that rewards one after schlepping to the Bronx on a summer Thursday, braving the traffic of a recent deluge—rush hour on steroids as everyone gets out of dodge for the weekend. Seeing others decked out in their fair-weather finery and knowing what an effort it takes is a testament to how much guests really want to be there to experience the beauty of nature and (sometimes) humans.

Dress design by Oscar de la Renta – Photo by BFA

This year’s “Fashion” sponsors included Oscar de la Renta and DeBeers. There were two floral archways to pose under, flanked by BFA photogs. I didn’t spy any diamonds “down the rabbit hole,” but OdlR had a dress or two made of asparagus ferns and other plant material inside the conservatory. Other sponsors include Bancorp LLC, Bartlett Tree Experts and Hearst.

Sophie Elgort – Photo by BFA

The outdoor gardens are styled in the Oxford Botanic Garden style prevalent when author Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) “strolled the scenic paths of this garden, which was an exciting hub for the display of newly arrived plants introduced from the far corners of Queen Victoria’s empire.” This translates to lots of topiaries and classic 19th Century English garden design.

Peter Som, Isolde Brielmaier, Marcus Teo, Jessel Taank – Photo by BFA

Many fashion insiders were concerned about Virginie Viard’s departure from Chanel. Many rejoiced as they did not think she was up to replacing Karl. Of course, there was speculation over who on the shortlist would replace her.

Freya Drohan, Sophie Sumner, Lizzi Bickford Meadow – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Steven Stolman thought that Chanel would first need to “refurbish their image” in the face of Coco Chanel’s Nazi informant/sympathizer role recently put in the spotlight by Apple TV+’s historical series “The New Look.” “There’s a problem there like John Galliano had,” he added.

Meanwhile, brand strategist Lizzi Bickford wore one of Steven Stolman’s new designs for J. McLaughlin/RSVP.

Event Chairs Bill and Sharon Jacob – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Notable attendees included honorees William D. and Fleur Rueckert, lead chairs Maureen and Richard Chilton, Chairs Sharon and Bill Jacob, Gillian Miniter, socialites Jennifer Creel, Lizzie Asher, Ashley McDermott, Muffie Potter Aston, Marcia Mishaan, Jean Shafiroff.

Also, fashion designers and fashion royalty Alex and Eliza Bolen, Fernando Garcia, Laura Kim, Peter Som, Victor dE Souza, Dennis Basso, and Marcus Teo (a recent FGI Rising Star winner who is suddenly everywhere)! Media celebrities included Tina Leung and Lynda Lopez. The event has become a family affair with next-gen Jacobs and Chiltons everywhere.

Jean Shafiroff, Marilyn Kirschner & Jen-Su – Photo by Laurel Marcus

As is custom, Victor dE Souza designed Jean’s amazing “honeycomb” gown with tulle back ruffles and accompanied her to the ball wearing a shirtless tux embellished with large gold floral pins (reminiscent of Schiaparelli) of his own design. Of Ms. Shafiroff gown, he exclaimed, “Three of us were sewing it today,” offering up a photo from his phone as proof.

From left, Chairman of the Board of the NYBG J. Barclay Collins ll, Eliza Bolen, Alex Bolen, Jennifer Bernstein, CEO, NYBG, – Photo by BFA.

After the spread out cocktail hour, guests were heralded inside the festively adorned tent for an evening of dinner and dancing under the floral horizons.

  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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