Fancy fascinators and floral dresses

“Does anyone still wear a hat?” Stephen Sondheim wrote in the song “The Ladies Who Lunch”. They certainly do at the annual Frederick L...


“Does anyone still wear a hat?” Stephen Sondheim wrote in the song “The Ladies Who Lunch”.

They certainly do at the annual Frederick Law Olmsted luncheon at the Central Park Conservancy, better known as the “hat luncheon,” now in its 40th year. At 11 a.m. Wednesday, a quake of well-heeled warblers gathered in the gloomy weather at the Conservancy Garden at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street, united by the pomp of their crests.

They cooed and cluttered as photographers captured hats of all shapes and distinctions: flower-adorned hats, feathered fascinators, flappers, boaters, berets, bows and not-so-crazy toppers. There was even a cowboy hat.

“It was made in Paris for the Prix de Diane races,” the outgoing author Jamee Gregory said of her sun hat with poppies and a large asymmetrical brim.

Not all hats were just for show. Jennifer Suh Whitfield wore an imposing hat by Esenshel it reminded her of a Korean Gat – “a hemp hat worn by men,” she said. “Coming to events like this, as an Asian American, I often felt there was a bit of role play in wearing these hats.”

Andrea Hagan, an investor, wore a pink baseball cap with a Planned Parenthood logo. “I’m here to reunite with like-minded women at my table because it’s such a dark day,” she said, referring to the leaked Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v . Wade if it was finalized.

At noon, as the trumpets played, the 1,300 guests – including Lauren Santo Domingo, actress Susan Lucci and former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – dropped into a huge tent where cocktails awaited them, rosé and chilled chicken breast salads.

“Events like this are important to the city,” Bloomberg said. “It’s a handful of people who invest a lot of money every year to keep Central Park running.”

At Table 99, fashion stalwart Di Mondo – whose boyfriend, Eric Javits, is a well-known milliner — brought her pet Ruby, a white rabbit. Reserve Board Member Gillian Miniter chatted with designer Lela Rose about her experience at the Met Gala. “People didn’t look ridiculous,” Ms Miniter said. “They weren’t just trying to outdo each other. It was normal. But quite normal.

Midway through lunch, Yesim Philip, another board member and de facto host of the party, took the stage and announced that the event had raised $3.9 million.

It was music to the ears of Alexandra Lebenthal, an investor who wore an elegant black fascinator with peonies, made by an Etsy shop. “I grew up in New York in the 70s, in the crisis of the city when Central Park was a scary place,” she said. “When I think about all these women dressing up and buying a ticket, they’re helping to make the legacy of Central Park a thing of the past.”

At 1:30 a.m., just as things were winding down, the sun came out. Guests made their way to waiting SUVs along Fifth Avenue, many stopping to congratulate Ms Philip, who was standing near the exit.

Among them was Betsy Pitts, a philanthropist, who wore a fascinator with orchids so finely made it was impossible to tell they weren’t real. Leaning over to Mrs. Philip, she gestured emphatically with her hands. “Chartreuse towels,” she says. “Magnificent.”

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