On The Avenue

Hat’s All, Folks

by Michael Gross Photographed by Owen Hoffmann/PMC
Thursday, May 4, 2017

Come back!” someone shouted to roaring cheers at the Thirty-Fifth Annual Frederick Law Olmstead Awards Luncheon for the Women’s Committee of The Central Park Conservancy, held on Wednesday in massive white tent in the park’s Conservatory Garden at East 105th Street and Fifth Avenue.

No, they weren’t asking the women laser-focused on being photographed in the millinery creations that have come to define the event to return to their tables for speeches. In fact, the speeches were blessedly short, replaced by a brief, often-comic video starring committee president Suzie Aijala, that kept the crowd attentive.

The shouts and cheers were aimed at former mayor Michael Bloomberg, the media and tech executive and world-class philanthropist, who was seated with his companion Diana Taylor, and Suzy Welch, at a table not far from the stage. He received a longer and more sustained ovation than any of the day’s honorees and other Central Park grandees in attendance either physical or spiritual, among them award winners Angela E. Thompson, Amanda Thompson Riegel and their Thompson Family Foundation, Karen Thornwell May and Kelly Coffey, CEO of the U.S. Private Bank of J.P. Morgan, the corporate honoree, event sponsor Michael Kors (who designed a tote bag for every guest), luncheon co-chairs Shelley Carr, Norma Dana (a founder of the Women’s Committee), Beth Dozoretz and Sima Ghadamian, Thomas K. Kempner Jr., the chairman of the Conservancy board, and Douglas Blonsky, its president and CEO. Only the day’s take, $4.5 million, won a roar as big as that greeted Bloomberg. Hat’s off to him.

Aside from the crowd’s nostalgia for the halcyon days of the Bloomberg years, the afternoon was as refreshingly bi-partisan as it was partly sunny and partly cloudy. Gliding fashionably from right to left at the cocktail reception before the lunch, Hillary Geary Ross, Blaine Trump and Judith Giuliani rubbed shoulders with DeBlasio administration Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, Eleanore Kennedy, and Margaret Cuomo.

Also notable at the astonishing 136 tables for ten to twelve were Jenny Paulson, whose husband John Paulson famously gave a nine-figure gift to the Conservancy in 2012, Allison Rockefeller, Jill Roosevelt, Tracy Snyder, Bettina Zilkha, Tina Beriro, CeCe Black, Marjorie Reed Gordon, Elizabeth Stribling, Karen Lefrak, Gigi Mahon, Caroline Milbank, Thorunne and Berge Wathne, Susan Rudin, Lee Fryd, Robin Cofer, Katrina Peebles, Jean Shafiroff, Janna Bullock, Karen Klopp, Anki Leeds, Alejandra Cicognani, Alexandra Penney, Stellene Volandes, Wendy Carduner, Julie Macklowe, Jamee Gregory, Debra Black, Emily Blavatnik, Fe Fendi, Marcia Mishaan, Felicia Taylor, Claude Wasserstein, Dottie Herman, Diane Johnson, Elizabeth Gardiner, Shelby White, Gayfryd Steinberg, Christine Schwarzman, Caryl Englander, Anne Keating, Phyllis Mack, Margo McNabb Nederlander, Patsy Tarr, Diane van Amerongen, Yaz Hernandez, Muffie Potter Aston, Somers Farkas, Dayle Haddon, Whitney Donhauser, Susan Magrino Dunning, Paul Chevalier of Chateau d’Esclans, which donated magnums of rose, Gillian Hearst Simonds, Page Six editor Emily Smith, Elyse Newhouse, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Andrea Stark, Debra Shriver, Serena Boardman, Kathryn Chenault, Dana Hammond Stubgen, Betsey Barlow Rogers, Marina Rust, Shirin von Wulfenn, Diane Coffey, Alexandra Lebenthal, Lela Rose, Kitty Sherrill, Laurie Tisch, and even a handful of men, including former Elihu Rose, Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis, Eric Rudin, Valentin Hernandez, John Rosenwald, Sylvester Miniter, Julian Robertson, Mark Gilbertson in a dapper straw boater and monogrammed slippers, fashion’s B. Michael, Mish Tworkowski, Eric Javits, Steven Stolman, and Cameron Silver, and David Patrick Columbia.

“It was a perfect afternoon in Central Park,” said Conservancy President’s Council member Gillian Miniter, who revealed that several of the most generous in attendance had paid an unprecedented $100,000 each for their tables. “The ladies were beautifully dressed and we raised the most money ever at the Hat Lunch!” Hat’s off to that, too.


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