Instead of holding the champagne reception for the 2019 Mad Hatter’s Tea at the Ginsburg Family Plaza on Thursday, April 11, it was moved to the Dallas Arboretum’s A Tasteful Place overlooking White Rock Lake. To dress up the acreage of edible vegetation for photo opps befitting the Golden Age of Hollywood theme, Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum President Linda Spina and Mad Hatter’s Tea Co-Chairs Sharla Bush and Terry Irby had red carpets, life-size cutouts of movie legends like John Wayne, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Reagan, as well as towering Oscars and a backdrop featuring paparazzi’s flashing.
On paper it was the perfect way to kick off the Arboretum’s fundraiser of hat showcasing. But before the first guests arrived at 10 a.m., a Blue Norther was entering the scene. On one hand, the dip in temperatures that had been predicted to arrive in the morning had been delayed until the afternoon. On the other hand, heralding the arriving of the chill were high-powered winds. Perfect for flying kites, but not so for ladies in frocks topped with over-the-top toppers.
At the entrance, the Three Stooges cutout at times was bent over backwards. Luckily, weights at the based kept it anchored. Fascinators looked more like windsocks. Feathered chapeaus appeared ready to take flight. Margaret Chambers, who had gotten her white feathered hat at a garage sale 20 years ago, admitted, “I feel like a nest.”
In this case, bigger was definitely not better when it came to the blowing conditions. Guests found themselves juggling purses and flutes while trying to hold their hats in place. Suffering the biggest hits were the oversized hats like Patricia Schmidt’s wedding cake of roses and baby breath topped off by a photo of “Father of the Bride’s” Elizabeth Taylor and Don Taylor.
As soon as they emerged from their vehicle, Sherwood Wagner and her pals Marena Gault and Sharon Popham found that their huge hats honoring Marilyn Monroe were a bit of a challenge. As if the size of the hats wasn’t a balancing act in itself, the gusts of wind sent ribbons off their assigned spots.
Another gargantuan hat-ache was Carmen Hancock’s tribute to Audrey Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” While Carmen is an old hand at the mammoth headgear from past Mad Hatter’s events, this one combined with the wind plus her heels put her to the test.
There was a sense of irony for Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk’s “Wizard of Oz” entourage. They looked right at home in the powerful blows with Christian Iles serving as the Wizard, Quyn Chau Stone as Dorothy, Joel Flores as the Cowardly Lion, Alan Keith as the tornado, Anthony Chisom as the Tin Man, Debra Rutherford Thompson as Glenda the Good Witch and Mary Ann as the Emerald City.
Near the check-in table, Cathy Vieth in pink and sparkles found a relatively tranquil spot to put on her Monroe’s “girl’s best friend” wide-brimmed hat.
Shane “Mr. Hatter” Walker, who had designed 13 of the hats for this year’s fundraiser, helped some of his clients erect their masterpieces before putting on his and Billy Fulmer’s pretty in pink Mickey and Minnie.
Proving to be one of the cellphone snap favorites was Kunthear Mam-Douglas with what appeared to be all of Hollywood atop her head and reels of film spilling over her dress.
And speaking of film-wear, Kathy King’s skirt had enough film for a double feature.
For the hat competition, contestants fluttered by a lineup of director’s chairs for judges (Vodi Cook, Jenna Jenovich, Vivian Lombardi, Jonathan Simkhai and Joani White) was on the way to the sponsor board for more photos.
To get the guests walking the red carpeted walkway to Rosine Hall for the fashion show and winners of the hat competition, Co-Chair Terry channeled Cecil B. DeMille using a megaphone. Not only did it work, but the timing was perfect. The temperature that had started the day at 71 degrees was now dropping to 66 degrees.
Among the crowd in motion, 2019-2020 Women’s Council of Dallas Arboretum President Venise Stuart revealed that fashion designer Patti Flowers would be chairing the 2020 Mad Hatter’s.
While the Tootsies’ fashion show featuring designer Jonathan Simkhai’s handiwork and a live auction took place, some of the guests removed their hats to the relief of those seated behind them.
Then the moment arrived that guests had been waiting for. With the judges lined up alongside Emcee Jocelyn White and Co-Chairs Sharla and Terry, the winners were announced:
- Best Foreign Language Film (“Most Dramatic”) – Kunthear Mam-Douglas
- Best Short Film (“Most Dramatic”) – Norah Maroulis
- Best Visual Effects (“Most Creative”) – Elizabeth Smith Theis
- Best Costume Design (“Most Elegant”) – Jenny Foster
- Best Director (“Best Themed Group of Hats”) – Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk
- Best Art Direction (“The Best Botanical Using Fresh Florals”) – Leslie Vaughan
- Best Actress In A Leading Role (“People’s Choice Award”) – Carmen Hancock
- Best Picture (“The Most True To Theme”) – Prashe
As the guests adjourned to the tented tables in the Ginsburg Family Plaza for luncheon, the good news was that the wind had calmed down. The not-so-good news was that the temperature was now 62 degrees. But nobody seemed to notice.
Check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery for more pictures of the looks of the day.