David Patrick Columbia's New York Social Diary

8 May 2014

Does anyone still wear a hat? ...

Yesterday in New York, the Women’s Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy hosted its 32nd Annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon and honored former mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been a big supporter of the Women’s Committee’s work in the Park for many many years.

The day begins at 11:30 behind the Vanderbilt Gates that lead to the Conservatory Garden at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue. It’s a beautiful site and guests stream in, making an entrance on the steps for more than an hour. It’s a spectacle of fun and pleasure for everyone watching the arrivals. Somewhere around 12:30 the guests take the walkway along an allée of blossoming apple or cherry trees (I should know and I don’t – but you can identify them easily). From there they enter the tent, and begin to look for their tables. This is where I go to town.

I think one of the things that makes this luncheon so much “fun” is that you can see the effort the women have put into the project of “wearing a hat” (“... does anyone still wear a hat?” ) goes the line of Stephen Sondheim’s that Elaine Stritch made her own. You see the artist in each owner. Or the sensibility. Or the certainty. You can see they’re all having a good time taking it in. Nothing is required but the pure pleasure of enjoying the day in this beautiful environment, a kind of celebration that has much bigger implications in reality than a laff of a hat. But that “hat” part does the trick. It’s (wo)man’s reflection of Nature and her beauty and her whim. You can see its effect on the faces of the guests. You could have seen it on my face. Except I am the camera in this case.  There was one hat (pictured above) that literally captures the essence of the Park, the Women’s Committee, and the reason for the Luncheon...

Alison Minton