Bright lights, big chapeaux

Dallas starlets tip their hats to Hollywood at Oscar-worthy Mad Hatter's Tea

Dallas starlets tip hats to Hollywood at Oscar-worthy Mad Hatter's Tea

Donna Moss
Donna Moss. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Carmen Hancock
Carmen Hancock channeled Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and her award-winning, high-tech hat played the actual movie on a screen. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Sharon Popham, Marena Galt, Sherwood Wagner
Sherwood Wagner, Sharon Popham, and Marena Gault joined forces as the Marilyn Monroe group. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Shane Walker, Billy Fulmer
Shane Walker and Billy Fulmer were the most-photographed duo of the day as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Dana Herberston, Gina Ginsburg, Kesha Couville, Kelley Gonzalez
Dana Herberston, Gina Ginsburg, Kesha Couville, and Kelley Gonzalez. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Jennifer Stalkup, Adean Kingston
Jennifer Stalkup and Adean Kingston. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Vodi Cook, Jonathan Simkhai, jenna Jenovich
Hat contest judges Vodi Cook and Jenna Jenovich with the fashion show's featured designer, Jonathan Simkhai. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Quyn Chau Stone
Quyn Chau Stone, who was "Dorothy" in the award-winning Wizard of Oz group. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Susan Cooper, Sharon Gleeson
Susan Cooper and Sharon Gleeson. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Carole Ann Brown, Kathy King
Carole Ann Brown and Kathy King. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Kunthear Mam-Douglas, Emi Mcnair
Award-winner Kunthear Mam-Douglas with Emi McNair. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Amanda Boardman, Elizabeth Smith-theis
Amanda Boardman with award-winner Elizabeth Smith Theis. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Melissa Muller, Janet Rice, vivian Lombardi, Tammy Stern
Melissa Muller, Janet Rice, Vivian Lombardi, and Tammy Stern. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Laura Freeman, Bethany Dow, Claire Gordon, Jessica Freeman
Laura Freeman, Bethany Dow, Claire Gordon, and Jessica Freeman. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Anthony Chisom, Alan Keith, Joe Flores, Yvette Grove, Gray hawn, Joel Flores, QC Stone, Mary Ann THompson-frank
The Wizard of Oz ensemble took home the prize for best group hats. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Christian Iles
Christian Iles. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Patricia Schmidt, Debbie Murray, Kunther Douglas
Patricia Schmidt, Debbie Murray, and Kunthear Mam-Douglas. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Michelle Delavaldene, Mary Shaar
Michelle Delavaldene and Mary Shaar. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Kim Eppstin, Laura Miller, Butch Irby, Terry Irby, Megan Boschinni, Susan Levy
Kim Eppstin, Laura Miller, Butch Irby, Terry Irby, Megan Boschinni, and Susan Levy. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Carla Russo
Carla Russo. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Donna Moss
Carmen Hancock
Sharon Popham, Marena Galt, Sherwood Wagner
Shane Walker, Billy Fulmer
Dana Herberston, Gina Ginsburg, Kesha Couville, Kelley Gonzalez
Jennifer Stalkup, Adean Kingston
Vodi Cook, Jonathan Simkhai, jenna Jenovich
Quyn Chau Stone
Susan Cooper, Sharon Gleeson
Carole Ann Brown, Kathy King
Kunthear Mam-Douglas, Emi Mcnair
Amanda Boardman, Elizabeth Smith-theis
Melissa Muller, Janet Rice, vivian Lombardi, Tammy Stern
Laura Freeman, Bethany Dow, Claire Gordon, Jessica Freeman
Anthony Chisom, Alan Keith, Joe Flores, Yvette Grove, Gray hawn, Joel Flores, QC Stone, Mary Ann THompson-frank
Christian Iles
Patricia Schmidt, Debbie Murray, Kunther Douglas
Michelle Delavaldene, Mary Shaar
Kim Eppstin, Laura Miller, Butch Irby, Terry Irby, Megan Boschinni, Susan Levy
Carla Russo

Whimsical Dallasites got to live out their big-screen dreams at Mad Hatter's Tea 2019. Themed "The Golden Age of Hollywood," the 31st annual luncheon and fashion show on April 11 proved to be an Oscar-worthy affair.

Co-chairs Terry Irby and Sharla Bush and honorary chair Kristina Bush Whitcomb welcomed 500 guests to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden on a red carpet, of course. Among those posing for photos in their over-the-top chapeaux and fabulous fascinators were Donna Moss, Jennifer Stalkup, Adean KingstonDana Herberston, Gina Ginsburg, Kesha Couville, Kelley GonzalezLaura Freeman, Bethany Dow, Claire Gordon, Jessica Freeman, Carla Russo, Sharon PophamMarena Gault, and Sherwood Wagner.

The most-photographed duo of the day was Shane Walker and Billy Fulmer, who went all-out as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, from hat to gloves. Also getting into character in a major way? Carmen Hancock, who embodied Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, complete with a hat full of Tiffany-blue bags and boxes and a high-tech movie screen playing the film.

While they mingled and shot selfies at the reception amid A Tasteful Place garden, guests sipped so much Moet & Chandon Champagne that, servers said, they ran out for the luncheon. Meanwhile, the hat competition judges had their work cut out for them. Putting pencil to paper to determine the coveted awards were Joani White, Vivian Lombardi, Jenna Jenovich, Vodi Cook, and fashion designer Jonathan Simkhai, whose designs would grace the runway later, too.

Inside Rosine Hall, emcee Joceyln White opened the festivities and championed the work of the Women's Council of the Dallas Arboretum, led by president Linda Spina. She encouraged attendees to visit the event's beneficiary, A Woman's Garden, to see its newest beautiful addition, the "Boxwood Niche."

This year's Tootsies fashion presentation, produced by Jan Strimple, showed looks that were both daytime chic and night-time glam. Guests could follow along on the handy printed "fashion menu" and circle the looks they loved. The show included designs by Lela Rose, Victoria Beckham, Versace, Emilio Pucci, BCBG, Ted Baker, Badgley Mischka, and of course, the featured designer of the day, Jonathan Simkhai, who was sitting in the front row.

Auctioneer Wendy Lambert got the crowd limber by first auctioning the Audrey Hepburn-style sunglasses she was wearing. Then bidding really heated up for fabulous prize packages. This year's big "gets" included a trip to Marfa; a Tootsies shopping package that included 20 percent off for a whole year; a luxury retreat at The Adolphus Hotel; a Dallas shopping excursion; and a pair of amethyst earrings from De Boulle. The earrings were modeled by special guest Kathy King, in town from Tucson, who donned a stunningly creative dress made entirely of 35-millimeter film.

Lambert then led the room in a "live give" initiative, allowing them to contribute amounts from $10,000 to $100. Paddles flew up around the room, and more than $16,000 was raised in a matter of minutes.

Then came the moment the room had been waiting for — the announcement of the hat contest winners, or, "the Academy Awards of millinery." Cheers and applause went up as the category nominees and winners' names were called. The prizes? Oscar statuettes topped with colorful hats, of course.

Winners were:

  • Best Picture (most true to theme): Prashe
  • Best Foreign Language Film (most dramatic): Kunthear Mam-Douglas      
  • Best Short Film (most beautiful fascinator): Norah Maroulis
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role (people's choice award): Carmen Hancock
  • Best Director (best themed group of hats): The Wizard of Oz group
  • Best Art Direction (best botanical using fresh florals): Leslie Vaughan
  • Best Costume Design (most elegant): Jenny Foster
  • Best Visual Effects (most creative): Elizabeth Smith Theis

Guests held onto their hats as they headed back to the breezy outdoors and found their spots at tables under tents on the plaza. Elegant florals by Into the Garden filled each table with color.

Photo-taking paused just long enough for attendees to enjoy the luncheon of seasonal greens salad; pistachio bacon chicken salad; cucumber-boursin and dilly egg-salad tea sandwiches; and chocolate truffle tarts and petite fours with creme anglaise for dessert — all provided by Angela's Kitchen + Catering. Efficient servers never let wine glasses run dry.

Just like at the Oscars, some patrons were heading to after-parties at nearby hotels. Others made their final charitable contributions and checked out, but not before taking a stroll through the grounds of the garden, making a special stop at A Woman's Garden and looking forward to another applause-worthy luncheon in 2020.