When reading a Cabell’s Designs quote about her beloved South, 2016 Mad Hatter’s Tea chair Jocelyn White also summed up this year’s charitable luncheon quite nicely. “It’s a place where magnolias and hydrangeas are bursting, everything is darlin’, and someone’s heart is always being blessed.”
That’s because the sun was shining brightly on the Dallas Arboretum for the 28th annual affair, themed “Steel Magnolias” after the beloved film, where lovely ladies donning creative chapeaux had come to drink champagne, socialize, and raise money for the arboretum’s Women’s Council. The event recently was made all the more famous in the second episode of Real Housewives of Dallas.
Hat judges Gary Riggs, Jane McGarry, Kathy Fielder, Karen Carroll, Janelle Friedman, Robert LeLeux, Diana and Daryl Johnston, and Matthew Campbell Laurenza positioned themselves along the red carpet, where those most proud of their toppers trotted down to the step-and-repeat. The rest of the guests sipped Shelby’s Pink Champagne and Melissa’s Mint Juleps while eagerly anticipating the fashion show and award announcements.
Attendees — including RHOD star LeeAnne Locken, Steve Kemble, Janine Turner, Linda Gray, Renée Querbes Farren, Yvonne Crum, Maggie Cooke Kipp, Carmaleta Whiteley, Courtney Kerr, Kristin Mullen, Angie Strange, Cynthia Smoot, Shane Walker, and Chad Collum — deserve extra snaps for their attire, because, as Truvy says in the movie, “It takes some effort to look like this!”
Jan Strimple’s fashion show did not disappoint, as models strutted down the catwalk in spring and summer looks from Tootsies, from designers such as Rachel Zoe, Matthew Campbell Laurenza Jewelry, Trina Turk, and Catherine Deane. However, Nha Khanh’s looks were the true show-stoppers.
The awards were up next, and Barbara Daseke, Sherwood Wagner, Carmen Surgent, and Kunthear Mam-Douglas were among those who took home a prize. Both Surgent and Mam-Douglas took turns on the runway.
“Hey, we get very few moments in life. You take yours, girlfriend. Savor it,” said celebrity emcee Kellie Rasberry as a magnolia-clad Mam-Douglas strutted like a proud bride. We’re guessing a team of many was required to manipulate the flowers into wearable art.
The afternoon came to a close with a true-to-theme lunch on the garden grounds. Dishes included Glenda’s gazpacho; Patricia’s field and greens salad; Connie’s fried chicken; and Miss Jocie’s banana pudding, Linda’s pecan tart, and Miss Faye’s mini buttermilk pie for dessert.
Although there were no doubt camera crews filming bits and pieces of the event, it was much calmer this year. If we had to pick, we would say Surgent was the camera candy. Potential new cast member should there be a season two of Real Housewives of Dallas?
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.