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

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 Stewart 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.

MySweetCharity Elves Turn To Reliable Sources For Mad Hatter’s “Under The Tuscan Sun” Weather Predictions

Sharla Bush

The MySweetCharity weather elves have been monitoring the wet conditions, since they were knocked out of their bunk beds this morning. The question was: “What about Thursday’s Mad Hatter’s Tea‘s ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ at the Dallas Arboretum?”

After reviewing the various scientific resources, they turned to their reliable Ouija boards. Their decision: The rains should be history with the sun shining by the time the cars filled with hatted folks arrive.

That’s the good news for the sold-out Dallas Arboretum fundraiser.

The not-most-marvelous-news is that the temperatures will be in the upper 60s and a tad bit chilly for sundresses… unless they’re under cashmere coats.

It’s a little ironic, actually. Thursday’s forecast for Tuscany, Italy, predicts a 70% change of rain with temperatures in the low 60s. Mamma mia!

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.

Jewelry Designer/Attorney Kori Green (Aka Mrs. Pat Green) To Be The 8th Judge For Mad Hatter’s Tea Hat Competition

Under The Tuscan Sun*

Mad Hatter’s Tea 2017 Chair Linda Spina is going “green” with the announcement of the eighth judge for the “Under The Tuscan Sun” theme chapeau competition at the Dallas Arboretum on Thursday, April 27.

Hold on to your hats! It’s Kori Green. In addition to being a jewelry designer, an attorney and pretty darn cute, she’s also the wife of Grammy-nominated country singer/songwriter Pat Green and mom to their two kiddos Kellis Green and Rainey Green.

She got in the jewelry designing business while studying law at the University of Texas Law School. It provided her with a creative outlet. In addition to her professional activities and community involvement, she and Pat established the Pat Green Foundation.

Kori won’t be the only “greenie” in the judging line up for the eight categories. She’ll be joining Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green plus celebrity judge Rachel Zoe, restaurateurs Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun (a judge team), Kerrently website editor Courtney Kerr, Kidd’s Kids CEO/Chief Happiness Officer Caroline Kraddick, fragrance guru Niven Morgan and Dallas First Lady Micki Rawlings.

Tickets for the annual eye-popping fundraiser for the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum are available here.

* Graphic provided by 2017 Mad Hatter's Tea

JUST IN: Hold On To Your Hats! The 2017 Mad Hatter’s Tea Judges Were Just Announced

Despite the stormy weather, Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Linda Spina had folks gather at Tootsies this afternoon for “Mimosas and Millinery,” plus the great reveal of the judges for the Thursday, April 27thUnder The Tuscan Sun” hat competition at the Dallas Arboretum.

Hat by Cassandra MacGregor

Surrounded by a collection of chapeaus including some by Cassandra MacGregor for the “Mimosas and Millinery” reception, Linda announced the following judges:

Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing (File photo)

Caroline Kraddick*

Niven Morgan (File photo)

Micki Rawlings (File photo)

Celebrity judge Rachel Zoe, restaurateurs Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun (a judge team), Klyde Warren Park President Tara Green, Kerrently website editor Courtney Kerr, Kidd’s Kids CEO/Chief Happiness Officer Caroline Kraddick, fragrance guru Niven Morgan and Dallas First Lady Micki Rawlings.

The judges will be eyeballing the guests’ finery for awards in the following categories:

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

Warning: Please do not try to bribe the judges, but do get your hats ready for the champagne reception on the Ginsburg Plaza and reserved your seats for the Tootsies fashion show in Rosine Hall and the seated luncheon in the tented Outdoor Plaza.

* Photo provided by 2017 Mad Hatter's Tea

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.