Saturday, December 14, 2013

Botanical Gardens Winter Wonderland Ball

Some Enchanted Evening

The Venue
(Click on images for larger views)
All photos unless otherwise noted Marilyn Kirschner

While I do admit to having an unlucky mishap on the afternoon of Friday the 13th, (I was on the computer and had forgotten that I had begun to fill up my bathtub, resulting in a mini flood in the apartment), there was nothing at all unlucky about the later part of my day. In fact, I consider myself to be among those lucky enough to have partaken in what is hands down, one of THE highlights of New York’s holiday social season: The New York Botanical Garden’s Winter Wonderland Ball.


Lookonline's Marilyn Kirschner (right)
 wearing Joanna Mastroianni cape & Tibi skirt 
& our reporter Laurel Marcus inTosca couture

With a mission of “public education, scientific research, and stewardship of our landmark site”, this event raises funds for the Botanical Garden’s “renowned Children’s Education program serving thousands of children in the tri-state region, especially the under served children in the Bronx.” (www.nybg.org.) With 450 in attendance, they raised almost $250,000 last night, according to Britt Hefelfinger, the Garden’s Special Events Coordinator. As always, the naturally glorious, magical, and festive Botanical Gardens were made even more so (if that’s even possible); transformed as they were for the spectacular evening that included cocktails, dinner, and dancing. FYI, in my opinion, one of the big treats was getting to view the mind-blowingly creative and fabulous 22nd annual Holiday Train Show, a display of magnificent models trains that wind their way through a “sprawling landscape featuring replicas of iconic new York landmarks” while enjoying cocktails in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.


Vanessa Grout, Melanie Lazenby, Elizabeth Kurpis

Honorary Chairs for the event were Sloan Barnett, Whitney Fairchild, Pauline Joerger, Nathalie Kaplan, and Molly Sims, and the long list of chairs included such as Alina Cho, Christina Cuomo, Alexandra Lind Rose, Gillian Hearst Simmons, Alexandra Lebenthal, and Linda Fargo. While this may not be a ‘fashion’ event per se, there has always been an undeniably high fashion quotient associated with it, as illustrated by its sponsors. Escada and Chanel have been past sponsors and this year, they were Bergdorf Goodman, (is there any store whose holiday windows better conjure up images of a ‘Winter Wonderland’?), Glamour, and Perrin Paris 1893.The invited guests, were bedecked in their holiday finery (furs and especially feathers were flying), and most had obviously taken great pains to factor in the evening’s dress code: Winter White and Black, Black Tie. (FYI, Linda Fargo’s absence was noticeable. There is almost nobody who loves a “good theme” as much as Linda and I always look to see how she has interpreted the dress code for a high profile soiree. There obviously must have been a good reason why she was not there).


Sally and Michel Perrin

Unsurprisingly, those who stood out for me, were creative in the way they used the different combinations of the two. Among the guests who caught my eye, were unsurprisingly, all three members of the chic Perrin family. Sally was in a winter white wool tuxedo jacket and a skirt that featured an asymmetrical hem (it was custom made by Tom Ford’s tailor, Mario of Beverly Hills), which she accessorized with a leopard printed calfskin clutch; one of her artistically gloved clutches from the Perrin collection, www.perrinparis.com.


Chloe Perrin

I also noticed several other attendees last night carrying Perrin’s sculptural, eye catching bags. (With boutiques in the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue, Beverly Hills, and Paris, the storied label is focusing on bags, purses, clutches, satchels, totes, gloves, and sunglasses). Sally’s fashion plate daughter Chloe was in a white Rick Owens long asymmetrically cut dress which she offset with black opaque tights, long black fingerless gloves, and a small structured black Perrin bag. Michel cut a dashing figure in a black suit and white shirt, accentuated with a black fur scarf.


Eliza Reed Bolen

I loved the simplicity of Kat Porter’s black Chanel bi level dress, simply accessorized with classic cap toe pumps, massive pearls around her neck, and fingerless black leather gloves. And I loved that Melinda Gilchrist wore Marc Jacobs’ mod and graphic black and white sequined striped top and long sequined black and white hounds tooth skirt from spring 2013 (so ‘un- ballgown-y’). The designer Alvin Valley, threw caution to the wind and instead of black tie, placed a decidedly ethnic, black and white patterned shawl finished with lavish black fringe trim, over his jacket. Designer Kim Hicks created her dress, (which had an icy silver gray strapless top and a winter white skirt made of organza ‘petals’ that were cut to resemble feathers), as well as

Kim Hicks and Dr. Susan Krysiewicz

Dr. Susan Krysiewicz’s black feather creation; Eliza Reed Bolen was in a long black and white abstract floral full skirted dress by stepdad Oscar de la Renta (she wisely warded off the winter chill with an off white cabled fur trimmed and bejeweled scarf tied around her neck); Melanie Lazenby arrived wearing Tom Ford’s dramatic white one shouldered column with a long cape over her shoulders (Gwyneth Paltrow wore the same ensemble to the Oscars several years ago); Vanessa Grout wore a short full white Reem Acra dress with a fetching bare back, and threw a fluffy white fox stole around her shoulders.

Chiu-Ti Jansen

Chiu-Ti Jansen opted for Joanne Fleming’s winter white ostrich bolero over a pale silver Jenny Packham gown. She told me she is on her way to celebrate the holidays in Paris and Spain and will arrive in China in time to celebrate the Chinese New Year; this year it’s the Year of the Horse (it sounds very Hermes). Speaking of exotic destinations, Alexandra Lebenthal, looking beautiful in a long black gown accessorized with fabulous vintage Larry Vrba earrings, told me she and her family will be celebrating the holidays in Santo Domingo where they have rented a house; Yaz and Valentin Hernandez (she was a vision in white) will be in Costa Rica.



- Marilyn Kirschner






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