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.”

As “A Writer’s Garden” Symposium And Luncheon Nears, Patrons Gather At Diane And Scott Sealy’s For Sipping And Sampling

Just days before “A Writer’s Garden” at the Dallas Arboretum, Diane and Scott Sealy hosted at cocktail reception on Monday, October 30, at their home complete with the pre-event book sales, food and foodies from Edible Dallas and Fort Worth. Here’s a report from the field:

Scott and Diane Sealy*

The Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden held a reception for the patrons of the 11th annual A Writer’s Garden” Literary Symposium and Luncheon on Monday, October 30, in the home of Diane and Scott Sealy.

The symposium “Authentic Texas…food and gardensto be held on November 2 features three authors presenting engaging histories showcasing the cultural influences that shaped the distinct styles of Texas food, heartfelt stories about the farming and ranching families that are in the forefront of the organic food movement, and personal experiences that celebrate the value of using native plants and flowers in the planned landscape.

For the reception, guests were treated not only to a preview of the books that will be available for sale at the event, but also sampled appetizers made with recipes from Texas author Jessica Dupuy’s new cookbook “United Tastes of Texas: Authentic Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State.”

Elizabeth Rois-Mendez*

Marsha Dowler*

Susan Adzick and Kay Weeks*

Chef Elizabeth Rois-Mendez of Classic Gourmet Catering prepared delicious recipes including Pimento Cheese Canapes, The Original Nacho, Texas Gulf Fish Tacos with side of Chipotle Mayo, Tequila Lime Pie, and Texas Pecan Pie. It was a smart marketing ploy by Co-Chairs Kay Weeks and Susan Adzick to kick start the book sales. Marsha Dowler, who manages the sales each year, allowed guests to pre-order the books that evening to ensure they get a copy. In past years, attendees at the symposium have left empty handed when the books sold out quickly. It looks to be another year where attendees may have to order online from Amazon.

Nanci Taylor, Dorothea Meltzer and Terri Taylor*

None of the featured authors could be present, so special guests for the evening were Nanci Taylor and Terri Taylor from the local magazine Edible Dallas and Fort Worth. For eight years, they have shared stories of the North Texas food community including growers, food and drink artisans, merchants, restaurateurs and chefs. The quarterly publication features recipes from each season.

Women’s Council President Melissa Lewis introduced Honorary Chair Nancy Bierman, founder of “A Writer’s Garden” and past president of the Women’s Council. She also thanked Dorothea Meltzer for securing another stellar line up of authors for the program, ensuring the success of the event. Dorothea has worked tirelessly to plan the speakers for the past several years.

Cynthia Beaird, Jill Goldberg and Venise Stuart*

Guests included Mad Hatter’s Chair Venise Stuart, Sarah and Mark Hardin, Barbara and Bob Bigham, Jo Anne and Mike McCullough, Jill Goldberg, Cynthia Beaird, Linda Spina, Lisa and Kendall Laughlin and Patricia Cowlishaw.

Sponsors for the event include Dallas law firm Geary, Porter and Donovan (third year of sponsorship), Hilton Dallas/Park Cities, Worth New York and Edible Dallas and Fort Worth.

The symposium will be held Thursday, November 2, 2017, 9:30 am to 2:00 pm, at the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall and is part of the Women’s Council’s 35th Anniversary Celebration.

As part of the Women’s Council’s 35th anniversary celebration, the featured authors for the Thursday, November 2nd symposium at the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall include:

  • Jessica Dupuy of Austin — well-known columnist for Texas Monthly and author of “United Tastes of Texas: Authentic Recipes from All Corners of the Lone Star State”;
  • Pamela Walker of Santa Fe — local farm and food activist, and author of “Growing Good Things to Eat in Texas: Profiles of Organic Farmers and Ranchers across the State”;
  • Andrea De-Long-Amaya of Austin— Director of Horticulture, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, garden columnist and teacher.

For the past thirty-five years, the major goal of the Women’s Council has been the development, funding, maintenance and endowment of A Woman’s Garden, the centerpiece garden of the Dallas Arboretum. Dedicated to the universal spirit of women, it is the only public garden in the nation conceived by women, built by women and funded by the efforts of women. The support of over 550 members of the non-profit, all volunteer Women’s Council makes possible the continued improvement and expansion of A Woman’s Garden.

* Photo provided by Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum

JUST IN: 30th Anniversary Mad Hatter’s Tea Theme, Date And Plans Revealed

Last night 2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea Chair Venise Stuart announced plans for the annual fundraiser benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum‘s A Woman’s Garden at the Dallas Arboretum.

Melissa Lewis

Venise Stuart

On the ground level of Tootsies, Venise revealed that the 30th anniversary would be a salute to the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era.

A Garden By The Sea*

Women’s Council of the Arboretum President Melissa Lewis stressed it was not a Gatsby-period theme. Rather think of the Vanderbilts summered in Newport at The Breakers, Marble House and Rough Point, when the magnificent estates enjoyed the cool breezes.  

To visually explain the feel, Melissa and Venise unveiled the graphic designed by Lynn Dealey that benefited the “A Garden By The Sea” theme perfectly.

Serving at honorary chair will be Linda Burk, who has been a longtime supporter of the Arboretum.

The fashion show of Tootsies fashions and luncheon will take place on Thursday, April 12, at the Arboretum under the direction of Jan Strimple.

As for the chapeau judging details, stay tuned.

* Graphic credit: Lynn Dealey

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.

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

MySweetCharity Photo Gallery Alert: 2016 Mad Hatter’s Fashion Show And Luncheon

Marena Gault, Marielle Gault, Steve Kemble and Sherwood Wagner

Marena Gault, Marielle Gault, Steve Kemble and Sherwood Wagner

Oh, those Mad Hatters really used their thinking caps in coming up with chapeaus to celebrate this year’s theme, “Steel Magnolias,” at the Dallas Arboretums on Thursday, April 21. Ranging from southern elegance to beauty parlor giggles, the heady creations topped off the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum’s annual fundraiser.

Robin Carreker

Robin Carreker

Carmen Surgent

Carmen Surgent

And if a picture’s worth a thousand words, hold on to your hats because more than 38,000 words worth of photos can be found over on MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

In the meantime, the post is being prepped. Stay tuned!

Mad Hatter’s Fashion Show And Luncheon Patron Party At Betsy And Guinn Crousen’s Mansion Was An Over-The-Top Draw

The line-up of luxury vehicles pulling up to Betsy and Guinn Crousen’s palatial Highland Park digs was impressive just 10 minutes into the Tuesday, April 19, affair. The valet parking company had been advised to expect 50 guests, but that number ended up being tripled including Jocelyn White, Linda Spina, Barbara Daseke, Linda Ivy, Connie Carreker, Jennifer and Coley Clark and Jennifer Houser. Needless to say, the car parkers were scurrying around the streets like roadrunners.

Jennifer Houser and Betsy Crousen

Jennifer Houser and Betsy Crousen

Barbara Daseke and Barbara Bigham

Barbara Daseke and Barbara Bigham

The event was the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum‘s Mad Hatter’s Tea patron party. Some like Leslie Ann Crozier were splitting their time between Mad Hatter’s and making it home in time to learn the outcome of the New York presidential primary.

Betsy and Guinn Crousen's courtyard

Betsy and Guinn Crousen’s courtyard

As a first-time event, the house with its marvelous courtyard had guests wandering throughout. Some even decided to check out the Crousens’ closets!

In the kitchen Emilynn Wilson was receiving congrats on being named 2017 Callier Cares chair. Another one receiving pats on the back was Barbara Bigham for the recent Bighams’ million-dollar donation for Scenic Overlook in the Arboretum’s newest project — A Tasteful Place.

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.

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

Former Neiman Marcus Model Marilyn Hailey Named Honorary Chair For “A Writer’s Garden Valentine Tea”

Back in the days when Neiman Marcus’ Zodiac Room had jackets available if gentlemen guests had forgotten theirs, there was a small group of legendary models who strolled among the tables to tell diners about their ensemble. One of those super stars was Marilyn Hailey.

Like the others, she was a fav of international designers. One of her favorite designers was the late hat designer Frank Olive. So much so, that she collected a delicious group of his chapeaus that was displayed at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League’s new member part in 2013.

Marilyn is lending her name as honorary chair of the “A Writer’s Garden Valentine Tea” at the Dallas Arboretum on Tuesday, February 10.

Marilyn Hailey and Marena Gault*

Marilyn Hailey and Marena Gault*

In addition to landing Marilyn, Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Marena Gault, Event Chair Margaret La Rocca and “A Writer’s Garden” Chair Dorothea Meltzer have arranged to have Michael Devine as guest speaker.

Like Frank’s love of fabrics and designs, Michael “has an internationally recognized line of hand-printed fabrics. His textiles and garden have appeared in numerous print and online magazines, including House Beautiful, Ell Décor, Traditional Home, World of Interiors and the Peak of Chic.”

It might be very smart to upgrade your involvement to the patron status because it will include an invite to a patron party the night before to meet Michael.

Proceeds from the event will benefit A Woman’s Garden at the Arboretum.

* Photo credit: Deborah Brown