MAY 12, 2021
Hats off to the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy for finding a creative way to stage the Frederick Law Olmsted Luncheon in 2021! #nomorezoom Tuesday, May 18 and Wednesday May 19 will find the best dressed, coiffed and chapeau’d ladies in town (with a few men sprinkled in), sauntering in their best high heels all over the park. Traditionally the iconic event is held in the Conservancy Garden, transformed into the most glamorous gathering of over 1,200 attendees. It is always a marvelous sight to behold!
This year the luncheon will be held in “Various Locations, Central Park.” Since the Conservancy took over management of the park in 1998, no tree (there are more than 20,000) or blade of grass has been overlooked in its strategic plan to create an oasis for recreation and reflection. It has become a model for urban parks and planning around the world and is one of the most visited parks in the world.
From rocky outcrops, fishing meers, woodland escapes, ponds, formal gardens, no other urban enclave enjoys the variety & diversity of ecological areas. Each destination provides a perfect escape into nature from the city’s concrete canyons. And a treasure trove of significant monuments and statues abound, including an antique carousel and even a castle!
With playing fields, rinks, tracks, running, biking, skating, fishing — Central Park is a model for the rest of the world. Some of our best mom time was spent in Lasker Rink, lacing up skates and cheering on our scrappy 6-year-old — now 34 — who is still playing in a league there. Currently Lasker is undergoing a spectacular renovation of the dilapidated rink and its long-neglected environs. It will include a “boardwalk” surrounding Harlem Meers for strolling in the summer and skating in the winter on artificial ice.
We are excited to strap on our stilettos and don our caps for this sensational event that benefits the upkeep of the park. As Hilary describes, “This year I have spent an abundance of time in Central Park due to Covid. I have never been more appreciative of its splendor and the work of the Central Park Conservancy. I am thrilled that the Women’s Committee has put their heads together and come up with a plan for the luncheon to occur. Not only will it be an amazing fundraising event, but how much fun to finally dress up and wear a hat! The idea of choosing a pretty dress or suit and walking into our Park feels like we are turning the corner. Now, that is something to celebrate.”
During Covid, milliners were hit particularly hard. After all, decorative hats were meant to be out and about, seen and admired. One of the best known milliners, Suzanne Couture Millinery explains, “It has been an extremely difficult year but I have been in business for many years and have clients throughout the country who have given me small amounts of business which has helped sustain us. In particular, the upcoming Central Park Conservancy Spring Luncheon and the recent Kentucky Derby have given me encouragement.” Susan’s designs are whimsical works of art, as modeled by Robyn Joseph (below left), a steadfast devotee of the designer.
Another bright star in the hat universe is Cristine Moore. Her pal, Deborah Roberts hosted a “hat party” for her friends a few years ago to choose just the right hat for the occasion.
Christine weighed in: “I’m very thankful that my business here in New York City was able to survive the pandemic, and especially thankful for all of my employees and clients that supported me during that time. Last year, my employees and I sprung into action, making thousands of masks in the first few months to assist both a local NY, and nationwide need.
Over the last year we were blessed that my casual collection continued to sell online and we were always confident that we would be back to making dress and events hats in no time. This year the Kentucky Derby and the Central Park Conservancy has brought back that prosperity and renewed joy in dressing up again.”
Another familiar face in the hat world is Eric Javits. His clever chapeaus are world famous for their packability. And now they are made using partially recycled plastics that resemble genuine raffia straw. They also block 95% of UVA/UVB rays.
Another wonderful source to stop by is Harlem’s Heaven Hats at 2538 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. Evetta Petty, a graduate of our beloved Fashion Institute of Technology, has been in business for 30 years. She designs for both ultra-dramatic as well as everyday festivities.
And our friend Kokin New York never disappoints in the quest for perfection. Accordingly, “When the perfect choice is made a woman walks differently, holds her head differently and feels truly feminine. I have seen wallflowers completely transform with a great hat. My favorite clients are those that come to me because they trust that I will go to the ends of the earth to help them make the perfect choice. There is nothing like a great hat to make the perfect footnote to an ensemble.”
And everything is made right here in NYC!
In 2007, Linda Pagan, of The Hat Shop started The Milliners Guild by gathering together all of the hat makers in the city to discuss their future and to help each other. If you really want to immerse yourself in the hat world, see the complete listing of milliners at Milliners Guild Members.
The Hat Shop celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2020. It also survived the worst of the pandemic by making masks and by the support of long time clients.
Linda Pagan also praised the Women’s Committee, “The Conservancy raising funds for a totally public institution is wonderful. I think it is really great for morale. This year we are getting back not to the way it was but to something better. Covid raised awareness of the interconnectedness of us all. We are truly a culture of global citizens that recognizes the importance of international supply chains and the impact on the planet.”
Meet Linda on one of her manyYouTube videos, this one on the history of hat-making in NYC.
Our modern age has almost abandoned hat-wearing, which is why today’s fashionistas enjoy playing big girl dress-up so thoroughly. So whether the bee in your bonnet is a Hat or a Fascinator or one of the many variations of the theme, show up and dress up for the best blooming party in town!
It is fitting that this year’s Luncheon is a salute to the essential In-Park staff, the true caretakers of this immense treasure. When the city shut down, the park remained open as an oasis of beauty and calm. So when you see these committed individuals beautifying the park, don’t forget to say “Thank you.”
Please consider giving to the park HERE. For a limited time your gift will be matched 50%.
Photos Courtesy of Patrick McMullan & Annie Watts Photography.