Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Parisian Chic Stormed the 27th Annual Mad Hatters Tea

You know what they say, "April showers brings May flowers," so holding the annual Mad Hatters Tea and Fashion Show outside in April is always a dicey affair. This year was no exception with Event Chair Sharon Popham,  Honorary Chair Sherwood Wagner and Woman's Council President Marena Gault fretting up until the last minute, terrified that looming storm clouds were going to dump buckets of rain on the Ginsburg Plaza and all of their well-heeled guests. It did sprinkle off and on several times, but Mother Nature was much too well-mannered to ruin everyone's good time. This event is an all-day affair benefiting the Womens Council of the Dallas Arboretum and it kicks off with a champagne reception, goes into a professionally staged and choreographed fashion presentation produced by the inimitable Jan Strimple, and is then followed by a seated luncheon. Mad Hatters is always one of my favorite events of the year. It's the one time of the year where it's not about your dress but your hat and honey, these women come to play! Among those roaming the plaza in couture culinary finery was Faye Briggs, Carmaleta Whiteley, LeeAnne Locken, D'Andra Simmons Lock, Dawn Neufeld, Dallas Dirt editor Candy Evans, fashion blogger Tiffany Hendra, Karen Lukin, and fashion designer Ese Azenabor. There was also a spattering of dapper gents there as well to even out the playing field including Steve Kemble, WFAA's Ron Corning, Shane Walker, Billy Fulmer and Jeff Shell.

Shout out to Billy Fulmer and Shane Walker of Flower Reign
for designing my beautiful hat complete with live flowers
I was especially thrilled to be one of the esteemed judges in the uber-competitive hat contest. Judging alongside me was Regen Horchow Fearon, founder of the Institute for Interesting People; Lucy Billingsly, Dallas developer extraordinaire; Matilda Louree, former Arboretum board member and docent; Brenda Bogart, artist and former interior designer for Trish Wilson; Kim Harmon Gatlin, best-selling author of Good Christian Bitches; Megan McDonald, Manager of Saint Laurent Boutique in Highland Park Village; and the delightful Jane Rozelle, Society Editor of PaperCity Magazine.

They gave us name tags, but I took mine off so I could roam the courtyard incognito to select my winner. I had the (coolest) category of Most Outlandish and I thought that Carmen Surgent was a shoe-in. I mean she had the whole freakin' city of Paris on her head in a 4'x4' hat created by floral designer Shane Walker. It must have weighed 15 pounds! However, once the judges convened, Lucy Billingsly wanted her for Best of Show and since it was kind of a show stopper - I succumbed and went with my second choice of Kunthear Douglas who used her son's LEGOS to design and create her Hermes hat (see below) complete with an illuminated Eiffel Tower.

Sharon Popham and Marena Gault are pretty in pink
photo: Sharon Adams
There were some fabulous hats (most of the really outlandish were created by professional designers) and some real wackodoodle creations. I heard that one woman had read that in France you don't have to pick up dog poop, so she used floral moss to create her "garden" and used plastic pieces of dog poop in her hat as a joke. Some didn't find it amusing. Particularly when a piece of the fake poop ended up on one woman's chair.  Quelle horreur!

Candy Evans showed up with a real live parrot perched atop her head and confessed she was terrified the whole time - not that it would fly away, but that it would cuss. Apparently, the bird has a real potty mouth. Not to fear, the bird was very well-behaved and kept quiet, although it did poop on her. Eh, c'est la vie!

FOX4 News Anchor Clarice Tinsley was the Celebrity Chair and event emcee with a little help from KVIL's "Jody Dean the Auction Machine." The fashion show featured the creations of Betty Reiter, Canary, Nardos Imam, and V.O.D. and provided many oohs and ahhhs. There were several camera crews milling about to capture the eye-candy greatness of this event. Among them was D'Andra Simmons Lock who launches a new talk show next week on KTXD called Dallas Social Cafe. She was a little panicked about doing her job and interviewing VIPs and making sure that the judges saw her fabulous Moulin Rouge-inspired hat (designed by Shane Walker). Not to fear, as she won Most True to Theme: April In Paris. Once again, Mad Hatters did NOT disappoint and provided attendees with a day of fashionable fun. To become a member of the Women's Council or learn more about the organization and how you can support the Dallas Arboretum, visit http://womenscouncildallasarboretum.org.

PHOTO GALLERY - Click on any image below to enlarge it and flip through the gallery:

Images may be republished with credit back to the source as "Photos by Cynthia Smoot as seen on OhSoCynthia.com"