“My hat is from — believe it or not — colonial Williamsburg,” said Tom Gold from underneath the tent propped up in Central Park’s conservatory garden on Wednesday afternoon. “I thought they were really chic, and so I have three of them,” he added. “I hope they make a comeback. They’re very decadent, French, Marie Antoinette. And I thought about this, and it’s like a French garden — except I hope nobody’s head will come off today. Unless they’re seated in a bad place.”
Gold was in good hat company. It was the annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon, known colloquially as “the hat luncheon.” Although hosted by the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy, there were a few men floating around, too — Michael Bloomberg, for one — although he was missing the accessory du jour.
“I am lucky because my daughter Paola, my oldest daughter, lives in London, so I have the good luck to visit Philip Treacy,” said Fe Fendi, whose head was adorned with a pink butterfly display. “So this is a Philip Treacy combination: two hats together. I don’t know if he’ll be happy about this,” she added with a grin.
What comes first: the outfit or the hat?
“Usually the outfit comes first — I think it’s easier, because in London it’s very easy to find a good hat. They really loves hats,” Fendi said. “For me it’s first the dress and then the hat — because it’s an accessory.”
“I have big hair and I wanted to sculpt it into a hat,” offered Cameron Silver, recently back from a trip down South. “And quite honestly, I think the work that these ladies do is quite incredible. Living in New York for the last three years, Central Park is my salvation to nature,” he continued. “And the fact that these amazing women raised $4 million in an afternoon with rose and key lime pie, sign me up.”
The festive and colorful lunch, in addition to raising funds, also paid tribute to Judy and Russell Carson and Douglas Blonsky, with the Frederick Law Olmsted Award. Afterward, guests walked out of the garden toting one of the Conservatory’s bubblegum pink umbrellas and boarded one of the charter buses lined up alongside Fifth Avenue. But the party didn’t stop there.
“Do you love the Central Park Conservancy?” the bus coordinator called out from the front of the bus.
The crowd, which had begun to take their hats off, played along: “Yeah!”
“Alright, so who wants to go where?” he asked. The bus would take you anywhere you wanted — as long as the stop was located along Fifth Avenue.