JUST IN: 2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Venise Stuart Reveals Categories for Annual Head-Turning Competition At The Dallas Arboretum

Venise Stuart (File photo)

2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Venise Stuart has put her thinking cap on and just revealed the categories for “A Garden By The Sea” on Thursday, April 12, at the Dallas Arboretum.

What’s the big deal? Well, until the categories are announced, hat designers and guests don’t have a clue how to create heady masterpieces in the hopes of winning one of the categories at the Women’s Council ofthe Dallas Arboretum’s 30th annual fundraiser.

So, start your creative juices flowing and pick which of the following categories will be your “headliner:”

Barbara Bigham (File photo)

  • All That Jazz (Best Group of four or more): Men may participate in this one very special category with or without women in the group.
  • To The Nines (People’s Choice): The best of the best as voted by the attendees.
  • Elegance of Earlier Days (Most Sophisticated): Grace, elegance and whimsy.
  • Gilded Age (True to Theme): Everything from the era of the Astors, Vanderbilts, and Gettys.
  • Grace And Folly (Most Creative): Shells and pearls, stepping out.
  • Peacocks On Parade (Best Botanical): Hats adorned with beautiful flowers. According to one source, this one should be flowers, not feathers. That’s probably because 2016’s “What Was She Thinking” winner Barbara Bigham cornered the market on plucked peacocks.

Venise is holding back on naming the judges right now, but stay tuned.

In the meantime, get those glue guns burning and get your seat for the Jan Strimple-produced fashion show featuring Tootsies fashions with Jocelyn White as emcee.

A Woman’s Garden (File photo)

Proceeds from the event “continues to develop and maintain A Woman’s Garden, the only public garden in the nation built by women and dedicated to the universal spirit of women.”

JUST IN: Returning Aware President Venise Stuart Reveals The Grant Recipients And Board Members For 2017-2018

Venise Stuart (File photo)

Venise Stuart’s dance card is getting full. Not only is she chairing the 2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, she is once again going to serve as president for Aware .

Venise just revealed the following ten organizations have been named Aware grant recipients for 2017-2018:

  • Baylor Health Care System Foundation – Support for the salary of a Ph.D. Neuropsychology Intern for Baylor AT&T Memory Center.
  • Center for BrainHealth – Discovery Group – Support for the Discovery Group, a program designed to help individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias focus on preserving abilities and tapping strengths to promote meaningful engagement and slow the progression of the disease
  • Dallas Museum of Art – Memory Moments – Support for teaching honorariums, supplies, and staffing for Memory Moments, a program designed to provide participants with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias ways to engage in art that are revitalizing and gratifying.
  • Jewish Family Service – Support for the salary of a Clinical Social Worker to provide independent living services to adults with Alzheimer’s and related dementias and their families/caregivers.
  • Juliette Fowler Communities – Support for group and individual therapy sessions with a Certified Music Therapist for memory care residents, and to help purchase additional instruments and therapeutic tools.
  • NorthPark Presbyterian Church – Casa de Vida – Support the Casa de Vida program, which gives relief to families/caregivers by providing one-on-one care to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias at the church for programs involving art, music, games, and lunch one day per week from 9:30 until 1:30.
  • Texas Winds Musical Outreach – Support for two concerts by professional musicians in 87 nursing homes and adult daycare facilities that serve individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • Presbyterian Communities & Services Foundation – Broad Strokes – Support for the Broad Strokes program at Grace Presbyterian Village that provides music and art therapy to residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
  • The Senior Source – Senior Companions – Support for the Senior Companion Program matching volunteers with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their families needing assistance with meals, light housekeeping, and companionship.
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center – Support to advance Dr. Roger Rosenberg’s research and clinical trials on a DNA Vaccine to clear amyloid plaques in the brain to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Myrna D. Schlegel Aware Scholarship awardees will be Baylor University’s Nora Drutz-Rogney and TCU’s Lindsay Ross.

Part of the grant funding is achieved from proceeds from the annual Aware Affair. This year’s event — Celebrate the Moments — will take place on Friday the 13th of April with a three-course dinner, silent and live auctions and dancing. Wondering where it’s gonna be held? And who’s chairing the event? Good questions! That information is coming in the weeks ahead.

Joining Venise on the 2017-2018 Aware board will be Carol Stabler, secretary; Sue John, treasurer; Stacey Angel, membership; Myrna Schlegel, Myrna D. Schlegel Aware Scholarship Fund and Janet Broyles, past president. 

Mad Hatter’s Tea’s “Under The Tuscan Sun” Soared To Sky With Over-The-Top Toppers And Rachel Zoe Fashions

After a day of chilly-will temperatures and rainy storms, the 29th Annual Mad Hatter’s Tea had a bright sun-shiny morning for its “Under the Tuscan Sun” on Thursday, April 27, at the Dallas Arboretum benefiting the Women’s Council of the Arboretum.

Kori Green, Caroline Kraddick and Tracy Rathbun

Tara Green and Micki Rawlings

Niven Morgan and Courtney Kerr

Unlike years before, the event started a half hour earlier at 10:30 with guests finding the Ginsburg Plaza roped off. Evidently organizers had hoped guests would flow away from Rosine Hall and the tented tables. Some heeded the suggestion, but the majority stayed clustered near the entry to watch the hat contestants wannabes hold their numbered cards up as they strolled the red carpet for the judges (Kori Green, Tara Green, Micki Rawlings, Niven Morgan, Lynae Fearing, Tracy Rathbun and Caroline Kraddick) who were seated on the elevated terrace in the shade. Judge Courtney Kerr didn’t sit because she didn’t want to wrinkle her outfit. Someone asked why she was wearing cherries in her hair. The person was corrected, “They’re tomatoes.” Oh.

Judge/designer Rachel Zoe was nowhere to be seen until the last moment. A coterie of lithe lassies popped out of a car with Starbucks in hand for Rachel, who had been sequestered away.

Soni Pancretz

Karen Lukin

Kunthear Mam-Douglas

Jordi Bostock

As for the guests’ interpretations of the day’s theme, it was obvious that Michael’s had been hit hard for sunflowers thanks to folks like Soni Pancretz. Needless to say, the results varied from subtle and beautiful to towering structures with wine bottle, plates, corks and even cars. Mary Tomas wore a Ray Conniff vinyl record with dolls and feathers … Proving that pink is always a standout were last year’s Mad Hatter’s Chair Jocelyn White, Donna Darling, Pebble McGehee and her mom Faye BriggsKaren Lukin’s looked like someone had used her brown hair as a platter for their pasta, complete with meatballs and fork …Corks were the lightweight accessory of the day. Amanda Johnson‘s cork-brimmed sunhat stayed put, but poor Steve Kemble’s cork vest was shedding corks as he strolled the grounds looking like a 21st century Bacchus…Kunthear Mam-Douglas’ hat appeared to be an entire Tuscan village… On the other hand, Jordi Bostock opted for a simpler look with checkered-tablecloth table for two… Lorenda Wyant towered among the group thanks to her Leaning Tower of Pisa … On the shorter structure side, Rene Farren‘s topper was delicious with an upside-down cone of faux spumoni … Still there were others who tossed the theme idea and went with their own vision, like Barbara Daseke with bird in nest and Virginia Chandler Dykes in white fur.

Lorenda Wyant

Rene Farren

Barbara Daseke

Cathy Vieth all in purple arrived with her equally purple hat of feathers, butterflies and flowers by her side. As her car pulled up, her chapeau designer Shane Walker and his partner Billy Fulmer were there to help her plant it on her head. With the wind picking up, Cathy seemed to sway a bit thanks to the “head wind.” Shane told her not to worry — the Plaza was much calmer… at least wind-wise.

Cathy Vieth and Shane Walker

Amber Griffin

No sooner had Shane got Cathy on her way to the Plaza than Amber Griffin arrived in an Italian flag dress. Quickly, she took a seat on a bench as Shane and Billy erected the hat that had plates, silverware, wine bottles, grapes, corks, peppers, candles and a loaf of Italian bread. It looked good enough to eat. The structure appeared to weight more than Amber. As soon as she entered the Plaza, the oohs and applause could be heard outside at the driveway.

Evidently Amber’s Italian flag dress wasn’t a one-of-a-kind idea. Lynne Lowder wore a sleeveless version that she got on Ebay with a hat featuring her cellphone playing a video. 

At 11:30 word was passed to head into Rosine Hall for the Jan Strimple-produced fashion show of Rachel Zoe’s clothes. Herding the hats and their underlings into the hall and their seats proved to be as challenging as Central Expressway at 5:30 p.m.

And then there was that issue of viewing the runway. Seems that some of the oversized hats may have been eye-catchers in the Plaza, but in the rows of chairs, they were eye-blocking. One gal was seen getting slapped around by the decorations of another guest’s hat, who kept turning her head to see others.

Rachel Zoe

Others had the problem of trying to see around the army of photographers, who were out to capture moments.

Following presentations to Honorary Chair Amanda Hill and her mom Amy Warren, the fashion show got under way with Rachel checking each of the creations, while husband Rodger Berman videoed the show on his phone.

Rachel Zoe fashion

Rachel Zoe fashion

Rachel Zoe fashion

Rachel Zoe fashion

Next up was the live auction. Instead of relying on local media types handling the auctioneering duties, they had award-winning Wendy Lambert, who kicked things off with Amy Warren raising her paddles and eyebrows with a winning bid of $10,000 for a Tootsies shopping spree. Not to be outdone, daughter Amanda snapped up a cooking lesson for $8,500. UPDATE: The live auction results added up to $33,400, but organizers later reported, “The Live Auction amount raised was $27,000.”

The live auction was followed by the usual shout-out that tends to be more awkward than profitable. Alas, this point became evident when Wendy’s announced the goal was for $35,000. The take ended up being $8,000 $26,000. But who knows? Wendy told the crowd that she would be available afterwards to accept donation from guests who might have been too shy to participate.

Finally, the time came for the judging results, with the following named winners:

Joani White

Cynthia Smoot

Tracy Rathbun, Carmen Surgent and Lynae Fearing

Terry Irby

  • Molto Italiano (Judge Caroline Kraddick) — Joani White
  • Most Elegant (Judge Kori Green) — Cynthia Smoot
  • A Taste of Italy (Judges Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun) — Carmen Surgent
  • Bellissima Botanical (Judge Tara Green) — Terry Irby
  • People’s Choice (Judge Micki Rawlings) — Katherine Phillips
  • Fellini’s Follies (Judge Niven Morgan) — Chad Collom and Steve Kemble
  • Most Outlandish (Judge Courtney Kerr) — Lynne Lowder 
  • Rachel’s Pick (Judge Rachel Zoe) — Amanda Warren

Katherine Phillips and Micki Rawlings

Steve Kemble, Chad Collom and Niven Morgan

Lynne Lowder and Courtney Kerr

Amy Warren and Rachel Zoe

Rachel in making her presentation admitted,”I’ve had a pretty long career. In no part of my life have I ever experienced anything like this….I’m going back to L.A. and talking about this. I love Texas.”

As the ladies and guests headed to their tables to take in the beautiful day, it was learned that Venise Stuart would be chairing the 2018 Mad Hatter’s. Can’t wait to hear how Venise plans to stage the 30th anniversary of this fundraiser for A Woman’s Garden.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea

Cathy Vieth and Shane Walker

It’s that event of the year in which creative juices are let loose resulting in jaw-dropping expressions by passersby. Benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, the Mad Hatter’s Tea has become a feast for gawkers and showboaters.

Amber Griffin’s hat

On Thursday, April 27, “Under The Tuscan Sun” had some of the guests’ chapeaus reaching for Old Sol at the Arboretum, while others looked like an Italian platter had taken residence on their heads. Mamma mia!

While the post is being prepared, check out the hats and faces at MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges Scored With Some Pretty Heady Escorts For The Arboretum’s Fundraiser Patron Party At Amy And Kelsey Warren’s Estate

As Pat Green surveyed Mad Hatter’s Tea Honorary Co-Chair Amy and Kelsey Warren’s backyard, he laughed when someone asked him if it was bigger than his spread in Fort Worth on Tuesday, April 25. What brought the country-western singer to Dallas was the Mad Hatter’s Tea patron party. No, he wasn’t going to be entertaining at the tea the following Thursday. But his adorable blonde wife Kori Green was going to be one of the category judges and Pat was playing the role of escort for the evening.

Amy Warren

Pat and Kori Green

Still another escort was Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who was also playing a secondary role to wife Micki Rawlings, who also was to be a judge.

Mike and Micki Rawlings

Tracy Rathbun and “her husband”

But wait! There was still another judge in the crowd overlooking the palatial grounds. It was restaurateur Tracy Rathbun with “her husband.” Tracy told “her husband” she had been amazed earlier in the day at how itty-bitty Simone Biles was at the “A Chance to Soar” benefiting Jonathan’s Place.

Amanda Hill and Melissa Lewis

Jocelyn White and Joani White

Others in the crowd were the Honorary Co-Chairs Amanda Hill, Women Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Melissa Lewis, evening’s chair Emilynn Wilson and husband Claude Wilson, Anne Stodghill, Phyllis and CJ Comu, Joani White and Jocelyn White, who would be emcee at Saturday’s Equest Gala as well as the Mad Hatter’s Tea.

Grovel Alert: 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea’s “Under The Tuscan Sun”

Mad Hatters Tea (File photo)

It seems that Mad Hatters Tea Chair Linda Spina and Vice-Chair Sharla Bush weren’t able to hunt for Easter eggs over the weekend. They were too busy checking the headcount for the Thursday, April 27th fundraiser for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum.

The results? They discovered that the “Tea is officially sold out.”

Does that mean it’s really, truly a done deal? True, the “buy tickets” links aren’t going to do much good, but there’s still hope. So, before putting away that Easter bonnet, send Sue Ringle an email and see if she can squeeze you in.

JUST IN: With An Italian Flavor, 2017 Mad Hatter’s Chair Linda Spina Reveals Eight Categories For Under The Tuscan Sun’s Judging

Under The Tuscan Sun*

And the news that Mad Hatters and their chapeau designers have been waiting for has just been revealed. 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Linda Spina revealed that in keeping with the “Under the Tuscan Sun” theme, the following categories will be judged at the Dallas Arboretum on Thursday, April 27, for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum fundraiser:

  1. Molto Italiano (“Very Italian”) — Most True-to-Theme. Everything Tuscan, from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the art treasurers of Florence to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and everything in between. 
  2. Rachel’s Pick — Special guest Rachel Zoe’s favorite hat. The best of the best, from her point of view.
  3. Bella Donna (“Beautiful Woman”) — Most Elegant. 
  4. A Taste of Italy — The food and drink of Italy.  Wine, cheese, pasta, pizza and more!
  5. Bellissima Botanical — Best Botanical. What would Mad Hatter’s at the Arboretum be without hats adorned with beautiful flowers?
  6. Fellini’s Follies — Famed late Italian film director Federico Fellini always worked in a group. Best Group of Hats.
  7. Mamma Mia! — Most Outlandish. Go wild!
  8. Ciao Bella! (“Hello Beautiful”) — People’s Choice. The best of the best, as voted on by the attendees.

Now, get those glue guns warmed up and have a glass of France MayesToccare le Stelle, while you’re at it.

SOLD-OUT ALERT!: Mad Hatter’s Tea

Mad Hatter's Tea (File photo)

Mad Hatter’s Tea (File photo)

Weathering all types of storms and such, the Mad Hatter’s Tea on Thursday is sold out. If the clouds cry on the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum fundraiser, not to worry. There will still be plenty of chapeau room and champagne laden flutes.

If you didn’t luck out on a ticket to the reception, fashion show of Tootsies merchandise and luncheon, you can still wander the gardens and you won’t even need a hat.


Dallas International Film Festival And Mad Hatter’s Tea Are Going To Have A Star

According to the weather guessers, all of this wet and chilly stuff is supposed to be in the rearview mirror come Thursday. And Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White is betting that they’re right on target for the annual Dallas Arboretum’s Women’s Council fundraiser.

Mad Hatter's Tea (File photo)

Mad Hatter’s Tea (File photo)

Of course with Joce at the helm, there will be some well-known faces underneath those brims. In addition to emcee Kellie Rasberry and live auctioneer Jody Dean, plans call for actresses Linda Gray and Janine Turner to be on hand.

Yipes! What does one talk with Janine about? She’s probably a little weary of recalling the good old days of “Northern Exposure.” So, why not be cool and current by asking her about “Occupy, Texas” that premiered Friday at the Angelika as part of the Dallas International Film Festival, that’s running through Sunday, April 24.

"Occupy, Texas" at the Dallas International Film Festival*

“Occupy, Texas” at the Dallas International Film Festival*

Here’s some scoopy, so you’ll sound so in. It was co-produced by a bunch of locals including Steve Stodghill and siblings Libby Hunt and Wayne McCullough. Booker T. Washington grad Gene Gallerano wrote the screenplay and stars in the 93-minute film about Beau Baker who has been living in a tent in Zuccotti Park as part of the “Occupy, Wall Street” protect. He gets word that his “upper-class” parents in Texas have died and he must return to take care of his teenage sisters and the estate.

BTW, one of the teenagers is played by Lorelei Linklater, the daughter of director Richard Linklater.

Some of the locals seen in scenes include co-producers Libby and Steve, Cannon Wise, Gail Cronauer, Nikki Moore, Terri Cooklin and Tim Lovick. BTW, this is the fourth time at bat as a producer for blonde Libby.

Just think how smart you’re gonna look with that cute chapeau and that head filled with that in-the-know-info.

* Graphic courtesy of the Dallas International Film Festival

Mad Hatter’s Tea’s Chair Jocelyn White’s Arranged For A Passel Of Celebs To Be On Hand For “Steel Magnolias”

Jody Dean and Jocelyn White (File photo)

Jody Dean and Jocelyn White (File photo)

When Jocelyn White becomes the trail boss of a fundraiser, she brings her posse of celeb pals in on the fun and the raising of money. So, it’s only natural that her chairing the Mad Hatter’s Tea’ “Steel Magnolias” on Thursday, April 21, at the Arboretum would be her cup of tea, literally.

Where to start? Well, it’s already been revealed that fashions will be from Tootsies and blonde Connie Carreker will be the honorary chair, but the newest well-knowns to join up are Celebrity Co-Chairs Linda Gray and Janine Turner. BTW, Linda will be doing double duty while in Big D. In addition to her helping Joce at the Arboretum, she’ll be the headliner the next day at “Authors at The Adolphus” luncheon in the hotel’s French Room chatting with Joce about her memoir, “The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction.”

Linda Gray (File photo)

Linda Gray (File photo)

But back to the Mad Hatter’s. Serving as emcee Jocelyn has tapped KISS FM 106.1 Kellie  Rasberry with KLUV 98.7’s Jody Dean handling the auctioneering.

But there’s still more. The announcement of the hat judges has just been announced. Now, before the names are listed, remember that bribes are tacky. Well, they are if you’re caught. Here is the rundown of the judges:

  • Karen Carroll, contributor, Flower Magazine;
  • Kathy Fielder, lifestyle designer, creator and manufacturer;
  • Janelle Friedman, author of “You Are Invited: How to Plan Everything from Intimate Gatherings to Texas-Sized Parties” and executive with Friedman & Feiger, Attorneys At Law;

    Diane and Daryl Johnston (File photo)

    Diane and Daryl Johnston (File photo)

  • Diane and Daryl Johnston, professional model and former National Football League fullback with the Dallas Cowboys/current NFL analyst, respectively;
  • Matthew Campbell Laurenza, jewelry designer. His jewelry will be in the Fashion Show and the Live Auction;
  • Robert Leleux, editorial director, Domino Magazine;
  • Jane McGarry, host, “Good Morning Texas” on WFAA Channel 8;
  • Gary Riggs, interior designer and owner, Gary Riggs Home.

As for the categories that are in keeping with the “Steel Magnolias” theme, here’s the list:

  • Most True-To-Theme:  Magnolias in ev’ry incarnation. Faux or real.
  • The Southern Belle:  Shelby’s girly-girl look. Can you say pink?
  • Simply Elegant:  Beautifully chic!  If Audrey Hepburn had been Southern …
  • Mother Nature Winks:  Makin’ Mama Nature proud with the best use of her bounty.
  • The Social Sorority:  Best Sisterhood (Brotherhood?) award.  We come in groups.
  • Miss Merry Christmas:  Crowns, Tiaras, Headdresses. Oh, my Stars!
  • What Was She Thinking?: The Ouiser Boudreaux Award. It’s what YOU think!
  • Best of Show/People’s Choice: Self-explanatory. The Steel Magnolia.   Best of the Best!

Don’t you just know somebody’s gonna should up with a red-velvet armadillo!

A Woman's Garden (File photo)

A Woman’s Garden (File photo)

Tickets and sponsorships are available here with proceeds going to the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White Announces Chapeau Categories For April 21st Heady Competition At Arboretum

Jocelyn White (File photo)

Jocelyn White (File photo)

Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White has been pounding away at her iPad with news about the Thursday, April 21st chapeau show-off benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden.

Already established are Honorary Chair Connie Carreker and fashions on the runway courtesy of Tootsies. And, yes, it will start off with a champagne reception in the Ginsburg Plaza followed by the program in Rosine Hall and a seated lunch under a tent in the Outdoor Plaza overlooking the Arboretum grounds.

Now, Joce has revealed this year’s categories in which guests will compete. Talk about true to this year’s theme — Steel Magnolias! Hat designers have been awaiting this news, so here goes:

  • Most True-To-Theme: Magnolias in ev’ry incarnation. Faux or real.
  • The Southern Belle: Shelby’s girly-girl look. Can you say pink?
  • Simply Elegant: Beautifully chic! If Audrey Hepburn had been Southern…
  • Mother Nature Winks: Makin’ Mama Nature proud with the best use of her bounty.
  • The Social Sorority: Best Sisterhood (Brotherhood?) award. We come in groups.
  • Miss Merry Christmas: Crowns, tiaras, headdresses. Oh, my stars!
  • What Was She Thinking?: The Ouiser Boudreaux Award. It’s what YOU think!
  • Best Of Show/People’s Choice: Self-explanatory. The Steel Magnolia. Best of the best!

Now that the hats are being thought up, think about reserving a mini-bus to transport you and your pals. Last year’s limos just didn’t seem to have enough head room for those top-notch masterpieces.

And if sponsorship is your POA, Patricia Armstrong is handling ‘em.

Round Robin November 19: Mad Hatter’s Reveal, Art Of Film Patron Party And Vine And Dine

With Thanksgiving just one week away, the evening of Thursday, November 19, seemed like a Republican debate with all types of fundraising activities vying for attention. And, boy, did they get it!

The Lee Park Junior Conservancy was doing a very happy hour for the young professional crowd at Texas Ale Project on N. Riverfront. A percentage of sales was going to the group’s support for “the care and conservation of Lee Park and Arlington Hall.”

Mad Hatter’s Tea Reveal

Jocelyn White, Renee Farren, Connie Carreker and Nerissa Von Helpenstill

Jocelyn White, Renee Farren, Connie Carreker and Nerissa Von Helpenstill

And speaking of care and conservation, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum was filling Tootsie’s to sip champagne and more importantly to learn 2016 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Jocelyn White’s plans for the Thursday, April 21st fundraiser.

Connie Carreker hat

Connie Carreker hat

First off, the honorary chair should have been nobody’s surprise — Connie Carreker. And already living up to honorary responsibilities, Connie was wearing a hat that promoted the event reading, “Wish You Were Here” on the white sunhat brim.

With typical sparkling personality, Jocie revealed the theme for the event at the Arboretum would be “Steel Magnolias” with fashions on the runway in Rosine Hall from Tootsie’s and produced by Jan Strimple. Well, duh!

Tootsies fashions

Tootsies fashions

Steel Magnolias logo designed by Rongrong Devoe*

Steel Magnolias logo designed by Rongrong Devoe*

But she wasn’t finished. Unveiling the logo by Houston illustrator Rongrong Devoe for the heady affair, she announced that Linda Spina would be in charge of the judges, who would include Gary Riggs; “floral engineer” Shane Walker would be creating the luncheon centerpieces and Patricia Armstrong would be chairing underwriting.

With the announcement of the theme, smoke was seen arising from the heads of Women’s Council President Reneé Farren, Mary Lee Cox and Nancy Labadie on how their chapeaus would vie for prizes in the hat competition. The clock is ticking. Get those designs going.

The Art Of Film Patron Party

Brett and Lester Levy

Brett and Lester Levy

Brett and Lester Levy Jr.’s love of the late artist Andy Warhol was obvious to all as they entered the Levy home. In the entry of their Highland Park residence were the Warhol portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao.

Was this interest new? No, according to Lester, who’s also a photographer, he started collecting art when he was in his 20s.

And exactly what was the connection between the Levys’ Warhols and their hosting The Art of Film patron party the night before the Dallas Film Society’s fundraiser? Simple. The dinner and conversation with featured actress Isabella Rossellini would be taking place at The Space, where an incredible collection of Warhol drawings and photos would serve as a backdrop for the film lovers.

Seems so right, since Isabella was one of the late artist’s muses and friends.

Stan Levenson, Stacy Girard and Lee Papert

Stan Levenson, Stacy Girard and Lee Papert

In the crowd was Honorary Co-Chair Stan Levenson telling Art of Film Co-Chair Stacy Girard and Dallas Film Society President/CEO Lee Papert that wife/Co-Chair Barbara Levenson was under the weather, but she would definitely be showing up the next night fit as a fiddle.

Vine and Dine

At the Neiman Marcus flagship store in downtown Dallas, meantime, about 145 guests gathered for the eighth annual Vine and Dine event benefiting Ability Connection Texas, which provides a range of services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford**

Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford**

The fundraiser, co-chaired this year by Piper and Mike Wyatt and Margaret Stafford, provided the nonprofit group with money to “empower individuals to live the best life possible by removing barriers that inhibit independence and autonomy.”

Now that Margaret has “retired” from her duties at PaperCity, she’s turned her sights to supporting various efforts like Ability Connection Texas in addition to watching son/Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford playing football on Sundays.

DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Inette Brown**

DeeDee Lee, Kayla Roughton and Inette Brown**

Pam and Vin Perella**

Pam and Vin Perella**

Among those enjoying the festive evening were new Uptown residents DeeDee and Jim Lee (they sold their big old home and decided to downsize and revitalize in the Uptown neighborhood), Debbie and Chuck Wilson, Lynn McBee, Meredith and Jack Woodworth, Kayla Roughton, Inette Brown, Kristin and Quintan Cockerell and Vin Perella with wife Pam Perella, who was receiving congrats on being announced just a couple of days before as the chair for the 2017 Crystal Charity Ball.

Jack Woodworth, Jeffrey Woodworth and Meredith Woodworth**

Jack Woodworth, Jeffrey Woodworth and Meredith Woodworth**

Following a cocktail reception on the store’s ground level, the guests moved up to the sixth floor Zodiac Room for a wonderful dinner prepared by NM Chef Kevin Garvin, complete with wines. Then there was a live auction.

* Graphic provided by the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum 
** Photo credit: Andy Keye + Whitney Photography

2015 Mad Hatter’s Tea Announcement Reception Bubbled With Champagne, Jewels And The New Dallas “It Girl”

Sharon Popham is planning on breaking things come Thursday, April 9th… like records. With Dallas Symphony Orchestra League pals like Women’s Council President Marena Gault and Announcement Party Co-Chairs Dixey Arterburn, Allison Brodnax and Ginger Sager, she’s already working to establish a new record breaker for the Dallas Arboretum fundraiser, the 2015 Mad Hatter’s Tea.

Marena Gault*

Marena Gault*

First step, she’s decided on a French theme. That was obvious at the Brook Hollow Golf Club announcement soiree from the champagne and delicious French ooh-la-a theme. There were delicious French decorated cookies at the table in the Oak Room and French champagne flowing.

Sharon had hoped for pink roses but ended up settling for Texas yellow roses.

Sharon Popham, Yanni Kyriazis and Sherwood Wagner

Sharon Popham, Yanni Kyriazis and Sherwood Wagner

Sharon had also lined up her honorary chair to be adorable Sherwood Wagner. According to Marena, “Sherwood is a beautiful, energetic, stylish young woman, modest and humble. She embodies everything about A Woman’s Garden, epitomizing the complexities of the essence of women with all their virtues and strengths. She is the new Dallas ‘It Girl’.”

According to insiders, “she grew up in Midland and graduated from Hockaday and TCU and worked for PSI, a public relations firm. She is involved with various charities in Dallas and West Texas and served as president of Girls Inc. Auxiliary. She is a board member of Ellen Noël Art Museum in Midland, which is named after her grandmother. She has graciously donated a heart-shaped pulpit to A Woman’s Garden at the Arboretum that will be named The Ellen Noël and Lissa Noël Wagner pulpit, in honor of her mother and grandmother.”

To celebrate the Thursday, October 16th  announcement, “Sherwood’s mom Lissa and a plane load of women from Midland flew in for the special occasion. 10 ladies filled the plane which left only the jump seat for Lissa to sit on for the trip.”

Front row: Sherwood Wagner in blue and Lissa Wagner in green*

Front row: Sherwood Wagner in blue and Lissa Wagner in green*

To add that touch of gold to the occasion, Sharon had jewelry designers David Lee Holland and  Yanni Kyriazis on hand and revealed that they’re creating a special piece of jewelry for the Mad Hatters to auction off. Should be very interesting, since David and Yanni specialize in “botanically themed jewelry.”

Sherwood volunteered to model “a stunning 110 carat orange zest necklace of natural colored Bolivian amethyst and diamonds valued at $92,000” created by David Lee Holland Fine Jewelry. Tough assignment!

Sherwood Wagner's Alexander McQueens*

Sherwood Wagner’s Alexander McQueens*

And talk about being dressed from top to bottom, Sherwood’s Alexander McQueen stilettos with six-inch heels were eye catchers with “jewel-encrusted skulls sporting mohawks.” (Please note her toenail polish matched her truly blue dress.)

As for Sherwood’s own spectacular jewelry, Marena volunteered to “babysit it” for the evening. ‘nother tough assignment.

When asked about the judges, Sharon implied that there would be a French flair on hand. The fashion show will be coordinated by Jan Strimple with clothes from Betty Reiter, Canary, Nardos Imam and V.O.D.

Stay tuned and get your berets warmed up.

* Photos provided by 2015 Mad Hatter's Tea

JUST IN: 2015 Mad Hatter’s Tea Leadership Announced Plus

Announcements are filling the evening air all over the place. Over at Brook Hollow Golf Club’s Oak Room, 2015 Mad Hatter’s Tea’s plans for the Dallas Arboretum fundraiser were revealed.

Sharon Popham, Yanni Kyriazis and Sherwood Wagner

Sharon Popham, Yanni Kyriazis and Sherwood Wagner

More details will follow, but first, lock down the date — Thursday, April 9.

Then the really big news is that Sharon Popham will chair the event with “French” on the mind. Serving as honorary chair will be “bashful” (not!) Sherwood Wagner.

Another announcement is that jewelry designer Yanni Kyriazis is creating an extra special piece of jewelry for the Maddest Hatters.

More information will follow, but start warming up your berets.

Winds Of Change Blew Through Mad Hatter’s Tea Blending Classical With Comical For The Women’s Council Of The Dallas Arboretum

Oldtimers recently recalled the first Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Dallas Arboretum way back when. The very prim and proper party was held on the terrace of the Dallas Arboretum’s Camp House with a regatta of sailboats parading on White Rock and a mini-symphony playing nearby. Even Stanley Marcus was present to add to the class and elegance of the day. It was an occasion when sipping, chatting and enjoying the lake’s breeze was a stellar way to support the Arboretum.

Ah, but that was many, many years ago. Since then the Arboretum fundraiser has been moved to the Ginsburg Plaza and Rosine Hall on the other side of the DeGolyer Estate. The regatta has been replaced with an indoor fashion show. A seated luncheon is served instead of a simple tea. And in keeping with the Mad Hatter’s theme, a touch of unpredictableness has been provided thanks to the addition of a hat contest.

In recent years, some felt that the competition and creativity had gotten a wee bit over the top, so to speak. There was actual talk of some judges hijacking other judge’s decisions. Classic looks were being upstaged by chapeaus that would have impressed Tim Burton. The live auction had gotten a bit saucy. But, heck, that was part of the charm and giggle-factor of the day.

Lisa Loy Laughlin and Bettina Hennessy

Lisa Loy Laughlin and Bettina Hennessy

This year under the leadership of Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Bettina Hennessy and Event Chair Lisa Loy Laughlin, a calming down was in place. Why, the vary theme “A Serenade to Style” seemed reminiscent of that first tea.

Even Mother Nature appeared to be in an obliging mood as she got her testiness out of the way the previous weekend for the Final Four. On Thursday, April 10, the sun was shining and it seemed so perfect for adorable spring sundresses. The luncheon tables were set up in open tents with marvelous centerpieces that featured motorized butterflies. Lisa laughed about the area birds that had been fooled by the fluttering critters and had tried to snatch them up.

Ah, but a touch of Mad Hatter still prevailed. As guests arrived, a sweep of breeze developed into gusts of wind, forcing the guests to clutch their hats. Just as one woman got out of her car, her hat whooshed away across the driveway only to be run over by another vehicle.

Once inside the plaza, the division of styles was obvious.

There were the classic beauties like

Gina Ginsburg

Gina Ginsburg

  • Wide brimmers — Honorary Chair Gina Ginsburg’s elegant sun hat smacking of Chanel, Lynn Dealey and Adrienne Pedigo in white with black hats with bouquets of flowers, Carmen Godwin and Sharla Bush in very similar flirty, floppy white hats (Sharla added an arrangement of flowers as an added touch), Bettina’s going understated in a beige and white classic, Vicki Ingram’s hat from Neiman Marcus, Judy Birchfield’s and daughter Belinda Birchfield’s matching jeweled and flowered hats and Yvonne Crum’s purple hat from Mockingbird Florist.
    Carmen Godwin

    Carmen Godwin

    Sharla Bush

    Sharla Bush

  • Fascinators —Lisa’s (“I went online”) Kate Middleton inspiration, Susan Cooper’s two hats-in-one, Marisa Howard’s black and white with a huge pink peony, Elva Furstenberg’s turquoise feathered hat by Cressida of London and Sharon Gleeson (“I bought mine at the store”).

And then there were the more whimsical like

  • Faye Briggs

    Faye Briggs

    Faye Briggs’ glittering and colorful feast of cupcakes, teacups and a beaded white rabbit that weighed more than the diminutive philanthropist. Daughter Pebble McKenzie, who will be getting married in September, went the opposite extreme with a pale pink-and-white cloche.

  • Clare Chaney’s Carmen Miranda with bananas, grapes and pineapple,
  • Terry Irby’s nearly 100 tulips and butterflies
  • Kunthear Mam-Douglas’s own creation that boasted a yellow rose theme
  • Jennifer Joyce’s topper promoting her company-sponsored table — “Fidelity”
  • LeeAnne Locken’s being encased in a rainbow of faux flowers. There were times, when the wind picked up, that it appeared that LeeAnne would be kiting over White Rock. She admitted that at times outdoors she thought was going to be the “Flying Nun” but then “hunkered down.”
  • Joani White with a fishbowl inside a birdcage. The goldfish was so embarrassed that s/he swam at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Anne Stodghill’s true tribute to Alice in Wonderland that nearly took off with a gust of wind

But the two that created the most talk belonged to Jill Rowlett and Steve Kemble.

Steve Kemble

Steve Kemble

In the days leading up to the event, Steve had advised friends via Facebook that he would be “missing” this year. No one could believe that the sassy Mad Hatter vet would not attend the event. Well, he did show up, only he was indeed missing. With his head inside a Texas-sized milk carton, his face peered out of an opening under “Missing.” On the side of the carton was “Arboretum Dairy Farm.” But even Steve was surprised at his brilliance when someone noted that the DeGolyer estate had indeed been the site of a 44-acre dairy farm before being purchased by the family in the late 1930’s.

Then there was Jill Rowlett and her frogs. Some might not have noticed her Kathrine Baumann purse. The reason? That ginormous Kermit with banjo that was on top of her head. Due to the commotion of guests and photographers trying to get to her, most weren’t able to hear Kermy’s playing his favorite tune.

According to Jill, “My hat was made again this year by Nicolas Villalba. I have many Muppet figures of every shape and material since our autistic son, Michael, loves them so. They are his friends. He even speaks in phrases from the videos! Starting with the song ‘The Rainbow Connection,” and a table full of Kermit’s, this hat grew….and grew. It’s as though Nicolas takes an idea, gives it steroids, and finds a way to build it perfectly!  From my running water fountain hat last Mad Hatters to Kermit singing Rainbow Connection, he can include movement and sound if my neck can stand it! Kermit had a speaker connected through blue tooth to my phone playing Rainbow Connection.

“It was great fun and an honor to pay tribute to Michael’s best friend!”

Lynn Dealey and Shane Walker

Lynn Dealey and Shane Walker

As guests took their places in Rosine Hall for the fashion show of Diane von Furstenberg, Escada and Lela Rose designs, some “outstanding” hats created a slight problem. One gal bent over the shoulder of Shane Walker‘s very top topper and asked him if he could remove the standout creation. It was blocking the view of those behind him.

Jocelyn White

Jocelyn White

Emcee Jocelyn White explained that she was going to handle the duties alone. Seems that announced co-emcee Ron Corning was unable to participate, due to circumstances beyond his control. Joce admitted that he was going to be very missed. . . especially when it was time for the live auction.

Then Jocelyn explained that when Lisa and Bettina “were planning this year’s wonderful day for you, they wanted to find a voice for their feelings about the magnificence of these three-and-half acres (A Woman’s Garden). This is truly sanctuary, serenity that all of you with your dollars and participation are helping to sustain. So, let’s reflect on all this glory around us with these gentle words sung by the lovely Nereida Garcia, who is a soprano who has performed in the United States, the United Kingdom and all across Mexico.”

Shoe adjustments

Shoe adjustments

The fashion production by Jan Strimple commenced almost flawlessly. One little model had shoe issues. Seems the stilettos were a tad too big for her feet and, halfway down the runway, she had to adjust her right shoe. Alas, by the end of the runway, she was forced to stoop down and fix the other heel. For her efforts, she got applause of appreciation. Who in the audience didn’t sympathize with her?

Then it was time for the live auction of seven items that had been collected by Jocelyn’s goddaughter Jacque Kennedy. Being a trooper, Joce worked to get the bidding up. She got so involved in the action that she ended up providing the winning bid of $1,000 for a private garden consultation by Michael Shoup of antique Rose Emporium.

Then it was time for the contest results. Each of the judges had his/her own category to judge.Michael Faircloth, Patti Flowers, Gary Riggs, Sam Ratcliffe and Clarice Tinsley

  • Heidi Dillon — My Favorite Things: Chic Couture,
  • Michael Faircloth — The Yellow Rose of Texas: Most Elegant,
  • Patti Flowers — Most Creative Use of Botanicals,
  • Sam Ratcliffe — Do Re Mi: Most Creative Use of Natural Materials,
  • Gary Riggs — Over the Rainbow: Most Colorfully Flamboyant,
  • Clarice Tinsley — Tip Toe Through the Tulips: Most Whimsical,
  • Maxine Trowbridge — Best of Show: Integrity of Design and
  • Janine Turner had to bow out due to a personal situation, so Clarice picked up an additional category —Edelweiss: A Vintage Look

In the past, categories had been announced ahead of time to allow guests and, in some cases, their hat designers to focus their creations. However, this event ain’t called Mad Hatter’s for nothing. By the time the judges were on stage to announce the winners, some had been adjusted and/or added. Instead of seven categories, there were eight. And then at the very end of the presentation, Jocelyn announced that she had added an additional category: Gentlemen Only.

LeeAnne Locken

LeeAnne Locken

The day’s winners were

  • Over the Rainbow: Most Colorfully Flamboyant — Faye Briggs
  • My Favorite Things: Chic Couture — Jewel Williams
  • The Yellow Rose of Texas — Carmen Godwin
  • Edelweiss — Libby Zoerner
  • Joani White

    Joani White

    Tip Toe Through the Tulips — Joani White

  • Do Re Mi — Julia Pavlova Kanaan
  • Most Creative Use of Botanicals — LeeAnne Locken. According to sources, it “seems like Patti Flowers changed the category she awarded, from ‘…. use of Natural….’ to ‘…. use of Botanical…’ LeeAnne Locken’s ‘hat’ was not made from natural materials, but it was striking and definitely deserved an award. It was created by Andre Yabin-Binzario Couture.”
  • Gentlemen Only — Shane Walker
  • Best of Show — Jill Rowlett
Jill Rowlett

Jill Rowlett

As Jill walked from the back of the room to the stage, Kermit with banjo towered over the other hatted heads. As she left the stage and started down the stairs, she just barely looked down to see just where the steps were. With that Kermit appeared to be headed for the lap of Gina, who was seated front and center. But after her tip of the hat two years ago, when her for-real fountain hat splashed the front row, Jill quickly recovered, Kermit stayed atop his perch and Gina remained calm, cool … and frogless.

For more photos, check the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2014 Mad Hatter’s Tea

Terry Irby

Terry Irby

With Easter weekend just ahead, it seems like a perfect time to show off the hats that appeared at the 2014 Mad Hatter’s Tea on Thursday, April 10, at the Dallas Arboretum. While organizers had hoped that decorum would rule the day, some of the guests just got it in . . . or rather, on their heads to be maddening.

Kunthear Douglas

Kunthear Douglas

Check the two pages of pictures on the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for proof that a little insanity isn’t such a bad thing.

Round Robin April 3: Chick Lit And Mad Hatter’s Tea Patron Parties and Girls Party

Once again Thursday proved to be an overabundant serving of appetizers for the weekend. In the case of Thursday, April 3, it was on the eve of the Final Four and the night of SMU playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Madison Square Garden.

Oh, did we mention that tornado warnings and watches were lighting up the skies and local newscasts?

Among the activities taking place were

  • Racing for the Sight patron party at Vinnette and Mike Montgomery’s new home benefiting the Retina Foundation
  • Fashion Cited with Ron Corning emceeing at Frontiers of Flight Museum for the Retina Foundation

Chick Lit Patron Party

Carolina Herrera store

Carolina Herrera store

Carolina Herrera is the jewel box of couture clothing. And despite the threatening weather, the CH boutique in Highland Park Village had the ladies turn out for the Chick Lit Luncheon patron party.

While waiting for guest of honor/next-day’s-luncheon-speaker Julia Reed to arrive, about 100 guests chatted and checked out the gems on the hangar. One poor gent looked at a spectacular shimming evening gown and queried, “$2,000?” A broad streak of shock swept over the nearby gals. He just knew he had insulted the creation. From the sidelines, one understanding female suggested, “That would pay for the label and perhaps the hangar.” As for the gown, in an addition to the gold, it also comes in green and blue. . . and it will probably be a showstopper in the months to come at galas.

Melinda Rathke

Melinda Rathke

As for Julia, she eventually arrived and immediately became best friends with everyone. As for dinner, she had a dinner date at Café Pacific with a local gal-pal — Laura Bush. But it was an early dinner because Julia had the Chick Lit Luncheon the next morning at Brook Hollow.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Patron Party

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Honorary Chair Gina Ginsburg and husband Scott hosted their very first “philanthropy” gathering at their new Highland Park mansion. Four years in the making, the residence would have delighted French royalty pre-revolution — and the Rolling Stones.

In the two-story library, a life-size photo of Mick Jagger was in place upstairs, while paintings by JD Miller were just at eye level at the room’s entry. The old masters would have been very impressed with JD’s talents.

Scott and Gina Ginsburg

Scott and Gina Ginsburg

In the formal living room that was as proper and traditional as King Louis XIV, a very modern portrait of Marie Antoinette stopped traffic. It wasn’t the Marie A. that one recalls. Imagine a very stylized Marie A . Despite attempts to find an artist’s signature on the painting, Scott smiled and insisted that he had done it and Gina was the subject — “I didn’t know what to do with her face, so I gave her a face mask.”

Lisa Loy Laughlin and Bettina Hennessy

Lisa Loy Laughlin and Bettina Hennessy

Eventually the crowd of around 100 gathered in the den where Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Lisa Loy Laughlin welcomed the group and then had Jocelyn White reveal that as a thank you, Lisa and Dallas Arboretum Women’s Council President Bettina Hennessy had arranged to have a blooming bed in the Ginsburg Plaza dedicated in Gina’s honor — “Sweet Gina’s Blooming Bed”. Only problem? They were going to present Gina with a certificate to seal the deal, but it “was in the mail.”

Girls Party

Nancy Carlson

Nancy Carlson

The day before, Nancy Carlson had been giving real thought to moving the Girls Party benefiting the Dallas Children’s Theater into the Carlson mansion. After all, the weather guessers had threatening everything excluding the plague and swarms of locusts hitting the area.

But surprise! Like a general leading her troops into battle, Nancy decided she would chance it and held the party outdoors and Co-Chairs Maggie Kipp and Tara Lewis were on board.

Maggie Kipp and Annika Cail

Maggie Kipp and Annika Cail

Ma Nature cooperated, providing what appeared to be a fireworks show with lightning flashing in the skies above and making the thunder clouds looking like bruised meringue. She even added a touch of a breeze to keep things cool for the 200 gals.

Tented backyard

Tented backyard

As for the Carlson estate, it was once again a whimsical setting with tents, mountains of desserts, grown-up beverages and entertainment all over the place. Artist JD Miller did one of his live paint-a-thons with his bride Lea Fisher watching. The Dallas Youth Repertory Program did a “flash mob” performance. Guests found themselves donning leis and learning how to hula.

JD Miller and Lea Fisher

JD Miller and Lea Fisher

But the big surprise was the song dedication to Dallas Children’s Theater Chairman of the Board Sharron Hunt, who had been the DJ sponsor for music by DJs Jen Miller and Paul Paredes.

Sharron and Maggie also coordinated efforts to have Linda “Dallas” Gray on the scene as honorary celebrity chair, thanks to their friendship with Elaine Saab. In addition to being Sharron’s friend, Elaine’s kids grew up with Maggie. It was a few years ago that Elaine tracked Linda down to speak at a Mississippi women’s conference. Learning about the Girls Party, Elaine reached out to Linda who, despite having a 5:30 a.m. call the next morning, looked spectacular and was overly accommodating to one and all.

Robyn Flatt, Linda Gray, Sharron Hunt and Elaine Saab

Robyn Flatt, Linda Gray, Sharron Hunt and Elaine Saab

DCT’s Robyn Flatt looked like a school kid herself with the recent success of “Mariachi Girl” and the evening’s fundraiser. For the past 10 years the Cabaret Gala has been the main fundraiser. The Girls’ Party has become delicious frosting on the fundraising cake for the theater that has become a treasure to parents and kids throughout the area.

Despite the threatening weather, Nancy made the right call.

Mad Hatter’s Live Auction Items Just Revealed

Mad Hatter's Tea 2014*

Mad Hatter’s Tea 2014*

The Mad Hatters are putting the finishing touches on their chapeaus. Or, in some cases, their hat designers are for Thursday’s Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Arboretum. One of the items on the day’s agenda is the live auction. Thanks to Jacque Kennedy, the following over-the-top packages will be up for paddle waving:

Item 1: My Fair Lady Package — Enjoy a day of beauty for you and three friends.  Begin the day by spoiling yourselves with hair and makeup done by The Hair Bar. Head on over to True Foods in Preston Center for lunch with your guests and conclude your day with four tickets to the Arboretum Concert Series.

Hostess will receive:

  • Pink Python Clutch by Laura Ginsburg
  • Black and gold Escada watch
  • Earrings from Szor’s

Item 2: Ladies Who Lunch Package — You and your four closest friends are invited to a private luncheon with MacKenzie Child’s designer, Rebecca Proctor, at Neiman Marcus.

For each guest, the luncheon includes:

  • Private Meet & Greet before the luncheon
  • A signed gift from Rebecca Proctor
  • A makeover in the cosmetics department at Neiman Marcus NorthPark prior to the luncheon!

Hostess will receive:

  • Diamond earrings from Rare Gems India
  • Elaine Turner handbag from Tootsies
  • Portrait session and an 11×14 Family Portrait by Robin Jackson Photography

Item 3: A Spot of Tea Package — Enjoy an exclusive opportunity with a Mother/Daughter Tea Party for 8 hosted at the Dallas Arboretum. Afterwards, enjoy a memorable tour of the Children’s Garden with your guests, and the hostess will receive a head and shoulders pastel portrait of her daughter by Nancy Curran. Conclude the day with dinner for eight in your home catered by Gil’s Elegant Catering.

Item 4: C’est la Bonne Vie! Package — Escape for the morning to the French-inspired Rush Patisserie for coffee and croissants with 8-12 of your closest lady friends. Each guest will receive exquisite French Affaires greeting cards by Elizabeth New Seitz.  End the day with a $1,000 gift certificate for dinner at Nick & Sam’s in Preston Center.

Hostess will receive:

  • $500 Bachendorf’s gift certificate
  • Portrait session and a 16×20 Family Portrait by Robin Jackson Photography

Item 5: Run for the Roses Package — Enjoy a private garden consultation at your home with Michael Shoup of Antique Rose Emporium.

Package includes:

  • Three beautiful rose bushes
  • Signed copies of Michael Shoup’s books Empress of the Garden and Guide to Antique Roses
  • Select gardening tools for handling the roses
  • Five different holiday gift box sets delivered throughout the year from Stacy’s Elegantly Chocolate

Item 6: Picture Perfect Party Package — Enjoy an afternoon tea party with 8-12 of your friends, sampling French delicacies at the French-inspired Rush Patisserie. Capture the special occasion with a Custom Portrait Package and an 8×10 lustre coated professional portrait by Tiffany Hankla Photography.

Hostess will receive a 10-inch Waterford Crystal Cassidy Vase

* Graphic courtesy of Mad Hatter's Tea 2014

2014 Mad Hatter’s Tea Categories And Judges Revealed At Lela Rose

Lisa Loy Laughlin, Carolyn Loy and Lindi Loy Frank*

Lisa Loy Laughlin, Carolyn Loy and Lindi Loy Frank*

It’s time to start those creative brain cells revving. 2014 Mad Hatter’s Chair Lisa Loy Laughlin revealed all types of good things at Lela Rose Boutique in Highland Park Village Monday. Despite a brisk wind and a chilly temperature outside, the crowd didn’t let that dissuade them from being on hand to learn about the April 10 “tea.” Let’s face it. This fundraiser is a tea in name only. It’s a heck of a lot more — champagne reception in the Dallas Arboretum’s Ginsburg Plaza, fashion show in Rosine Hall and back to the plaza for a seated luncheon overlooking the grounds. All this benefits the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden.

Bettina Hennessy*

Bettina Hennessy*

Speaking of Ginsburg Plaza, Honorary Chair Gina Ginsburg was on hand for the news along with Dallas Woman’s Council President Bettina Hennessy, Underwriting Chair Kathy Cothrum, Carol Seay, Kay Weeks, Karen Settle, Linda Spina, Anna Bland Aston, Carole Lawson, Jill Goldberg, Janie Robertson, Sue Ringle, Elsa Norwood, Kim Mathews, Linda Loy Funk and Tea emcee/advisor Jocelyn White topped off with an animal-friendly alpaca hat and scarf.

But back to the announcements. Centered around this year’s theme of “Serenade To Style,” Lisa revealed the categories will be:

  • 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.
Jan Strimple and Jocelyn White*

Jan Strimple and Jocelyn White*

If you’re new to Mad Hatter’s, the reveal of the categories is very important. Some guests spend loads of time, effort and money in trying to come up with a potential winning hat to fit the categories. Hat designers, in particular, take the information and hit the drawing boards to provide their clients with real eye catchers.

In addition to the categories, Jocelyn announced the hat judges, who include: Heidi Dillon, Founder of The Fashionistas; Michael Faircloth, Fashion Designer; Patti Flowers, owner of Patti Flowers Design Studio; Sam Ratcliffe, head of Bywaters Special Collections in SMU’s Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library; Gary Riggs, interior designer and artist; Clarice Tinsley, news anchor, FOX 4; Maxine Trowbridge, editor, PaperCity; and Janine Turner, actress, author, talk radio host.

Patti Flowers and Sam Ratcliffe*

Patti Flowers and Sam Ratcliffe*

Other news included the return of Jan Strimple as fashion show producer for the April 10 fundraiser at the Dallas Arboretum; plus, fashions will come from Diane von Furstenberg, Lela Rose and Escada.

Suggestion: Receive your tickets now because you’re gonna need to concentrate on your chapeau.

* Photo credit: 
Dana Driensky

25th Mad Hatter’s Tea Topped Off With Skyscraping Chapeaus And Headscratching Judging

Not since LBJ’s 1948 election was decided by dead voters has an outcome been so controversial as the 25th anniversary Mad Hatter’s Tea. But the record-setting Dallas Arboretum fundraiser didn’t start out that way on the chilly morning of April 11. As guests gathered in Ginsburg Plaza only the poor tulips were drooping. That overnight drop in temperatures had really sent them to the ground. However, Event Co-chairs Shay Geyer and Maggie Kipp along with Arboretum Women’s Auxiliary President Sue Ringle had arranged for heaters to keep the guests warm while sipping their champagne.

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer

As guests with low-riding sun hats gathered around the patio heaters that looked like hats themselves, the guests with high-rise hats avoided them like a bill collector.

Steve Kemble

Steve Kemble

Evidently the event’s theme, “Adventure in Time,” had inspired creativity to new heights. In fact, hat stature seemed to be the rule of the day, as towering flotillas of floral designs competed for judges’ attention and votes. Steve Kemble’s four-foot-high, 35-pound anniversary cake hat required a courier to deliver it and towered high above all. D’Andra Simmon’s sky-high turban with Taj Mahal and four elephant heads bearing pointed tusks was indeed a threat to Margot LaRocca’s group wearing designer balloon hats.

Honorary Chair Patty Dedman Nail’s group of ladies clad all in black with blue feathers on their hats looked like glamorous Hollywood widows counting the minutes until the will was read.

Seventeen gals with 45 rpm “record hats” took pleasure in explaining how they had hot-glued their hats.

Still another group was resurrecting the Arboretum’s recent love fest with Chihuly. Not only did they look fashionable, they didn’t suffer neck- and headaches like many with heavy toppers.

Joani White, who had just returned from a cruise, appropriately came as a very fashionable survivor of the Titanic, complete with a mini-Louis Vuitton steamer and a Le Cœur de la Mer dangling from her hat.

Doris Jacobs, not quite satisfied with her red-and-white fantail of flowers, added just a touch of greenery to set it off.

And since the theme dealt with time, many like Kate Rose Marquez, Shane Walker and Billy Fulmer, opted to add a timepiece in their bonnets.

Just as the judges (Lawrence Bock, Connie Dufner, Holly Forsythe, Julian Leaver, Paula Caldwell St-Onge, James Shackelford and Anthony Wilkinson) were hunkering down sans judge Amy Vanderoef, who was MIA due to a sick kiddo, Reggie Alexander and Julie Kay Harris-Krause came rushing in. Well, maybe not rushing as in sprinting. With their mega-headpieces, there was just no way one could move that fast.  Alas, they were held up in traffic and too late to be judged officially. However, they stole the show. With blonde ringlets and a Miss Muffet dress, Julie’s bonnet looked like a delicious cake of blossoms, bows and feathers. In her hand was a two-tier stand of even-more delicious cupcakes and flowers. Reggie’s spiraling creation dazzled with a glamorous tree with moving parts and photos of the event’s key organizers sprouting from his white top hat.  One gal, who was disappointed in her hat, asked Reggie for his card. Smart lady. Making plans for next year.

Julie Kay Harris-Krause

Julie Kay Harris-Krause and Reggie Alexander

As the guests adjourned to Rosine Hall, many passed by the judges huddled up in the back of the room. According to some reports, the judges were having their own maddening time trying to figure out which hats fit in which categories. Think Alice trying to use logic with the Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts.

Ah, but there was even more madness taking place in the rows of chairs. Some guests decided that open seating meant chairs with names or the word “Reserved” were not to be taken seriously.

Shay and Maggie took their assigned seats on the front row. Just as the lights dimmed, the girls’ smiles momentarily turned upside down. The Oscar and Cavalli executives, who were to be seated right behind the co-chairs, were nowhere to be seen. Alas, the reps’ reserved seats had been hijacked by interlopers, with the Oscar and Roberto folks banished to standing against the wall.

But most guests never knew a problem existed as the show got underway with WFAA’s Ron Corning returning as emcee for a second year in a row. He charmed and teased like an adorable kid brother, and the ladies loved it. Shay, Maggie and Sue did a nice job of thanking the appropriate folks, especially Honorary Chair Patty Dedman Nail, who last year was one of the victim of the splash from the runway. Talk about a good sport!

Carmaleta Whiteley

Carmaleta Whiteley

Then Ron presented “the fashion fairy godmother” Carmaleta Whiteley with a special gift — a fashion fairy godmother wand because, “Lord knows, you’ve got a lot of fairies in your life. . . If you need any fairy dust, there’s certainly no shortage of that in this town.” Did he really say that? Yup, he sure did and laughter filled the room.

Mad Hatter's Tea fashion show

Mad Hatter’s Tea fashion show


Then it was Jan Strimple-produced fashion showtime, with a first time joining of Oscar and Cavalli on the runway. The day’s chill was quickly history as the spring and summer collections offered the promise of warmer days to come.

Following the show, the live auction took place with Ron at the helm. Suddenly Hat judge Daniel Lewis who had also donated a package joined Ron and stoked up the bidding.

Despite showing signs of headaches and stiff necks from their weighty chapeaus, guests stayed in place waiting for the judges’ decisions. Finally it was time for the winners to be revealed:

Joani White, D'Andra Simmons and Pat Holder

Joani White, D’Andra Simmons and Pat Holder

  • Gents Top Hats/Timeless — Billy Fulmer
  • Most True to Theme/Back to the Future — Joani White
  • Botanical/Adam & Eve — Terry Irby
  • Most Whimsical/Roaring Twenties — Yvonne Crum
  • Most Elegant/Court of Versailles — Elizabeth Mendez
  • Best of Show/25th Anniversary — D’Andra Simmons.
  • Most Outlandish/Wild Wild West — Nancy Brite-Smith
  • Group Hat — (tie) Record in Time and Patty Dedman Nail’s Hollywood Glamour
Patty Dedman Nail's Hollywood Ladies

Patty Dedman Nail’s Hollywood Ladies

As the winners were presented, eyebrows raised, mouths formed perfect “O’s” and botoxed brows tried to wrinkle. Steve Kemble’s mammoth hat just hadn’t fit in any of the described categories. Whispers kicked in with claims that one judge had commandeered the vote, making up rules as he/she went along. One well-known hat designer threatened to boycott future Mad Hatter’s Tea and redirect his talents to Kentucky Derby parties. Oh, the agony of it all. Here a record amount of money had been raised for the Arboretum, and such supposed skulduggery was upstaging the post-show luncheon. But as a legendary Houston socialite once said, “To be successful, one must be controversial.”

Paula Caldwell St-Onge, Daniel Lewis, Julian Leaver, Holly Forsythe, Lawrence Bock, Connie Dufner, Ron Corning and Anthony Wilkinson

Paula Caldwell St-Onge, Daniel Lewis, Julian Leaver, Holly Forsythe, Lawrence Bock, Connie Dufner, Ron Corning and Anthony Wilkinson

Well, not really. Just a couple or three were a bit miffed that their favs hadn’t taken home the “gold.” The rest were having a grand time lunching amid the flowers that had withstood the chilly temps. Faye Briggs’ table was especially special, with a three-tier birthday cake celebrating her 80th birthday.

Faye Briggs' 80th birthday cake

Faye Briggs’ 80th birthday cake

But the controversy proved to be fodder for the hardcore Mad Hatter vets. They adjourned to the Mansion bar for the traditional post-event analysis and something stiffer than tea.

Photo Gallery Alert: 2013 Mad Hatter’s Tea

_MG_3141 Joani White, D'Andra Simmons and Pat HolderOnce again the Mad Hatter’s Tea provided lots and lots of photo materials. Check the April 11 action on the MySweetCharity Photo Gallery that took place among the drooping tulips at the Dallas Arboretum.

The write up is in the works. Stay tuned.

Mad Hatter’s Judges Announced With Cristiano Mancini In Attendance

Pity the poor hat designers. They’ve been swamped with appointments with Mad Hatter’s guests with dreams of scoring a win at the April 11 topper at the Dallas Arboretum.

Sure, they knew the categories in which the judging would take place. But the question still out there was, “Who would the judges be?”

Shay Geyer and Jan Strimple

Shay Geyer and Jan Strimple

To keep the anticipation high, Mad Hatter’s Co-chairs Shay Geyer and Maggie Kipp held off announcing the lineup for judges until the evening of March 28 at NorthPark’s Roberto Cavalli. Originally, planned for March 27, the girls moved it to the next night because Cavalli Director of Marketing Cristiano Mancini had arranged to fly in for the occasion.

Cristiano Mancini

Cristiano Mancini

According to Cristiano, the Dallas stores is just one of five in the U.S. and this is the first and only one in Texas. Next year, they’ll open one at the Houston Galleria. The reason? “We love Texas. . . We love the lifestyle and the women and that they embrace fashion and know how to dress up, pay attention to their hair and makeup and jewelry. . .” And while the Cavalli organization has seen a trend recently toward more formal dressing. Perhaps it’s due to the popularity of Downton Abbey. Since Cristiano dresses celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Sharon Stone and Charlize Theron, he was asked how Texas women measure up to the big stars. “They are red-carpet ready. We like that.”

Chanel and Cathy Vieth and Shane Walker

Chanel and Cathy Vieth and Shane Walker

Alas, it wasn’t easy to get to Cristiano with all the crowd in the store. Jocelyn White wore a 4- to 5-year-old Cavalli flowery pink, orange and yellow blouse with pink slacks. . . .Hat designer Shane Walker wore one of his show-stopping police-caps.

Roberto Cavalli

Roberto Cavalli

Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta

Was he a bit early for the tea party? No. He knew Cathy Vieth was going to wear an over-the-top outfit at the announcement and he wanted to make her feel comfortable. He was right. Cathy maintained her reputation for headturning. In addition to her Cher-like salute outfit, she brought about nearly 6-year-old (her birthday is in June) daughter, Chanel, who quickly handled the paparazzi like a skilled pro.

Oh, so who will be the 2013 judges? Just follow the link and they’re all listed including photos.

And if you missed the gathering and Cavalli clothes, not to worry. You can see them on the Mad Hatter’s runway along with their neighbor Oscar de la Renta.

SOLD-OUT ALERT: Mad Hatter’s Tea With Heaters

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer (File photo)

Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer (File photo)

No surprise that the Mad Hatter’s Tea is way sold out. Even Ma Nature couldn’t get in now. Evidently she waited till the very last minute and got really upset that there was no room. So what is she going to do? According to weather guessers, she’s planning on throwing a 24-hour temper tantrum starting Tuesday night with rain and chilly temps throughout the area.

What a party pooper!

But do not worry one iota. The rain will be history by Thursday, according to area weather guessers. As for the nip in the air, seems Mad Hatter’s Co-chairs Shay Geyer and Maggie Kipp along with Dallas Arboretum Women’s Council President Sue Ringle put their hatted heads together and reported:

“We’ll have space heaters in the promenade and other outdoor areas and floor heaters in the tent (tall space heaters are fire hazards – and, frankly, may be dangerous near the hats!)  Everyone should be comfortably warm on Thursday.”

So there, Mother Nature. Stuff that in your hat and wear it somewhere else!

Grovel Alert: Mad Hatter’s Tea

IMG_9445 Plaza of hatsTickets for the April 11 Mad Hatter’s get-together are going faster than a rabbit on Easter Sunday. It’s getting to be countdown time for you and your bonnet.

The flowers and champagne are ready and waiting for you!