The 2019 Winter Wonderland Ball

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The New York Botanical Garden held its annual Winter Wonderland Ball last evening ( Presented by Wempe Jewelers and in support of NYBG’s Children’s Education Program, this event has been a fixture on the New York social calendar and one of the highlights of New York’s holiday social season since 1999. It’s hard to argue with its magical setting even though last night, it was more Winter Wetland than Winter Wonderland.

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

With a mission of public education, scientific research, and stewardship of the landmark site, the event raises funds for the Botanical Garden’s renowned Children’s Education program, which serves thousands of children in the tri-state region. Last night there were about 500 guests in attendance, and approximately $450,000 was raised.

The youthful guests
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Dinner and dancing were preceded by a cocktail reception held under the twinkle of the 28th annual Holiday Train Show. This year’s show—presented in an immersive indoor winter wonderland adjacent to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory—showcases Central Park, with its iconic landscape fashioned in mosses and hollies.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

Architectural treasures like Belvedere Castle, the Dairy, the Old Bandstand, the Angel of the Waters sculpture atop the Bethesda Fountain, and two graceful pedestrian bridges, are arrayed alongside 175 famous New York landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. Each model was created from natural materials such as birch bark, acorns, and cinnamon sticks.

Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Among the Lower Manhattan replicas that made their debut last year was the historic Battery Maritime Building, vintage ferry boats, the Battery Park Control House, the Woolworth Building, One World Trade Center, the Oculus, and the Terminal Warehouse.

Lili Buffett, Georgina Bloomberg, Ariana Rockefeller
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The Winter Wonderland Ball is now in its 21st year, which also happens to be the median age of the attendees. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but it is hard not to notice that this event is attracting a very youthful crowd.

Johannes Huebl & Olivia Palermo
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Gala chairs were Alessandra Ford Balazs, Georgina Bloomberg, Peter Brant Jr., Lili Buffett, Sarah Chilton, Martin Dawson, Savannah Engel, Gillian Hearst, Kerry Joyce, Kit Keenan, Serena Marron, Larry Ross Milstein, Ariana Rockefeller, Zack Thain, and Timo Weiland.

Timo Weiland
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Among the notable guests: Jean Shafiroff, Victor dE Souza, Olivia Palermo, Johannes Huebl, Brian Atwood, Dr. Jake Deutsch, Carolina Herrera creative director Wes Gordon with his partner, designer Paul Arnhold, Amory McAndrew, Gillian Hearst, Kelsey Asbille Chow, and Alex Assouline.

Jean Shafiroff and Di Mondo
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

It might have been frightful outside, but inside, everything seemed to sparkle and shine. In keeping with the time of the year, feathers were flying, and there was plenty of gold, silver, red, and green. Many guests were lit up like Christmas trees, and a few looked like ornaments. Jean Shafiroff resembled one VERY expensive candy cane in her red and green striped satin couture gown with green embroidery by Victor dE Souza.

A guest wearing a red gown with a huge bow in the back
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Several attendees looked like well-wrapped gifts with their statement-making bows. The prize for the most ‘out there’ ensemble goes to Di Mondo, who wore a white tuxedo shirt, silver metallic pants, and an enormous gold and silver metallic bow in the back. It was made for him by his husband, Eric Javits.

Photo by Laurel Marcus

The evening did have one glitch. The guests had to leave the building to get to the dinner at an adjacent pavilion. It meant hundreds of guests standing in line to retrieve their coats and then wait for transportation in open buses — the pouring rain complicated things. I am usually not superstitious, but last night was Friday 13th.

Marilyn Kirschner and Amory McAndrew
Photo Laurel Marcus

As I previously mentioned, this year’s sponsor was Wempe. They joined the ranks of past supporters like Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Etro, Burberry, Badgley Mischka, Judith Leiber, Herve Leger, Escada, among others. Great timing since their specialty is exquisite jewelry and timepieces. And as we all know, it’s all ‘About Time’!

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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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