Mother Nature may have taken the 27th annual Mad Hatter’s Tea theme, “April in Paris,” a little too seriously, as she brought down the rain at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden that day. But no matter: Just as Parisian women cannot be bothered by a little drizzle, these Dallas philanthropists would not be deterred.
Attendees knew immediately that they were in for a sassy spectacle, because they were met at the valet by a model dressed in all white, accompanied by a white French poodle. They continued on to Ginsburg Plaza, where they joined luncheon chair Sharon Popham and honorary chair Sherwood Wagner for a customary champagne reception.
When the rain really started to come down, women rushed inside — and their frantic behavior was caught on camera by a film crew rumored to be recording for a “ladies of Dallas” reality show. The crew was eating up the footage of these fabulously frocked women trying to protect their one-of-a-kind hats from the spring showers.
Once safely inside, emcee and Fox 4 news anchor Clarice Tinsley welcomed everyone and told them the event had sold out — a testament to this luncheon’s tradition. And speaking of tradition, Tinsley recognized Nell Broughton, who was celebrating her 95th birthday and has attended every Mad Hatter’s Tea for the past 27 years. Broughton also received the Lifetime of Elegance award, presented during the highly anticipated hat winners’ ceremony.
This year’s judges awarded the following attendees with honors:
- Regen Horchow Fearon, founder of the Institute for Interesting People, presented Most True to Theme to D’Andra Simmons.
- Matilda Louree, former Dallas Arboretum board member and docent, presented Most Botanical to Terry Irby.
- Megan McDonald, manager of Saint Laurent Boutique in Highland Park Village, presented Most Whimsical to Elva Firstenberg.
- Brenda Bogart, artist and former interior designer, presented Most Elegant to Lauren Palmer.
- Cynthia Smoot, marketer and social blogger, presented Most Outlandish to Kunthear Mam-Douglas.
- Kim Harmon Gatlin, best-selling author of Good Christian Bitches, presented People’s Choice to Gretchen Stewart.
- Jane Rozelle, society editor for PaperCity, presented Best Group of Hats to Shane Walker and Billy Fulmer.
- Lucy Billingsley, Dallas developer, presented Best of Show to Carmen Surgent.
The program also included a live auction — which raised more than $30,000 — and an impressive Jan Strimple-produced fashion show featuring looks from Betty Reiter, Canary, Nardos Imam/J. Pacetti Precious Jewels and V.O.D.
Ladies exited the presentation to find their lunch awaiting them beneath elegant open-air tents, where tables were decorated with Eiffel Tower-adorned centerpieces of blossoming ivy and azaleas. Naturally, the meal had a French theme: croissant, salad, wild mushroom-filled crepe and crème brulée.
On their way out, guests — including Marena Gault, LeeAnne Locken, Sonya Walker, Karen Settle, Jolie Humphery, Kendra Karlock and Doris Jacobs — picked up macaron-shaped porcelain trinkets as keepsakes.
The day’s proceeds benefit the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum’s A Woman’s Garden, which is the only public garden in the nation visualized by women, funded by the efforts of women and dedicated to the spirit of women.