Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mad Hatters was Skittles Rainbow of Floral Fun

Celebrating its 26th year, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Serenade to Style fashion show and luncheon included a champagne reception, a fashion presentation showcasing collections from Lela Rose, Diane von Furstenberg and Escada and a seated luncheon. This year there were 6 awards to be handed out: Over the Rainbow: Most Colorfully Flamboyant, My Favorite Things: Chic Couture, The Yellow Rose of Texas: Most Elegant, Edelweiss: A Vintage Look, Tip Toe Through the Tulips: Most Whimsical, Do Re Mi: Most Creative use of Natural Materials, Best of Show. Criteria: Integrity of Design and Creative Use of Botanical. As you can see from the photos in this post, these ladies are serious about the themes and about W-I-N-N-I-N-G. In years past, the judges cast votes in all the categories. This year, each judge was assigned one category. In theory, this was a grand idea to simplify the process for the judges. The only problem, was that no one at the event knew which judge had each of the categories. This created mass pandemonium as contenders tried to figure out who they needed to get in front of to be seen and considered for their category.

NOTE TO THE COUNCIL: Next year have each judge seated at a table with a sign so that ladies can line up at their intended destination and everyone feels like they have been seen. Much more efficient to have the ladies parade past the judges that to have the judges try to navigate the crowd and see everyone. Just my two cents. Take it or leave it... 

Cynthia Smoot, Steve Kemble
The weather couldn't have been lovelier and everyone in attendance was in a sunny mood as we sipped champs and snapped away on our iPhones.  I'm pretty sure we almost overloaded Instagram.

Everyone was a-buzz because Steve Kemble was missing. But, wait! There he was - over in the corner with a milk carton on his head. Oh, that crazy Steve. You just cannot outdo him, no matter how hard you try. And try indeed, did LeeAnne Locken who dazzled in a custom chapeau created by Andre Yabin at Binzario Couture that took up two seats at the fashion show in and of itself. She was a rainbow of color (see below)!

There was practically a stampede to get a photo of Jill Rowlett who won the Best of Show award for her "It's Not Easy Being Green" Kermit the Frog ensemble. Not only was her hat amazing, but she was dressed in head to toe green silk and had a darling Judith Lieber Kermit clutch. Perfection! I always love Jill because you just never know what crazy, over-the-top thing she will show up in. Two years ago, she showed up with a 3-tiered working fountain on her head... I'm telling you people, these ladies are SERIOUS about this competition!

Jill Rowlett and bestie Yvonne Crum

Phyllis Comu  |  Tiffany Hendra and Karen Lukin

Gina Ginsberg and LeeAnne Locken
Okay, you ready for the scandal? Because at this event there is always some drama... As I already said, each judge was given one category to evaluate and select a winner. Heidi Dillion was given the category of "My Favorite Things: Chic Couture" and after milling about during the champagne reception, she made her selection and turned it in. Before she and the other judges made their way to the fashion show and winner's presentation, a representative informed her that she had been "overruled" and a new winner had been selected for her category.

This woman obviously did not know who she was dealing with, because Heidi unleashed an unholy string of expletives on her and informed her in no certain terms that it was her category to decide and not only was she a celebrity judge chosen for her knowledge of fashion but she was a sponsor of the event and she would not be overruled.  They parted ways and Heidi then took to the stage with the other judges to hand out the awards.

Jocelyn White was the day's emcee and as she introduced the judges she said, "Don't worry if you can't remember all the details about your winner because we have it written down for you...". When it was Heidi's turn to announce her winner, the piece of paper she was handed had the name of the person that the "other people" picked. So, Heidi just announced her original pick in defiance. Double snap. 

I don't know who this lovely lady in pink is in the above photo, but I love her. This will be me at Mad Hatter's in 40 years.  I can't end my tale without a shoutout to Shane Walker, for making such an amazing hat for me to wear to this year's event. I came up with the idea to do a blogger-themed hat. I wanted something that would speak to what it is that I do. Shane and I concocted the idea, then I cleaned out my junk drawers and delivered him a handful of old cell phones, cameras and a couple rolls of film and he dreamed up this magnificent creation for me. We also featured several photos that I have taken from year's past that allowed me to give a nod to some of my favorite former looks from Doris Jacobs, D'Andra Simmons, Shay Geyer, Jill Rowlett and Yvonne Crum.  Shane asked me what my dress would look like and I said, "Honey, you design the hat and I will find a dress to go with it" and how fortunate for me that when the time came, I just happened to have this fantastic dress from Watters hang in in my closet that I hadn't yet worn. A statement necklace from Jewelry Nut Auctions completed my ensemble. I love it when a look comes together! I also need to give a special thanks to Heidi Dillon for asking me to join her at her table - she was a most entertaining host!

Julia Pavlova

Mad Hatters is my absolute FAVORITE event of the year. It has everything: eye-candy, drama, intrigue, beauty, fashion, champagne, an amazing venue, elegance and FUN!  You simply MUST attend next year. Since its inception in 1982, the Women’s Council has supported the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden overall and through the creation, development and on-going funding of the world renowned A Woman’s Garden and now, through funding the garden’s enhancements that will continue to draw visitors to our great city from all over the world. To learn more about theWomen's Council of the Dallas Arboretum, visit

photos courtesy of QC Cong