Bettina’s Take: 30th Annual Frederic Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon


The Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon, aka The Hat Lunch, took place in Central Park on a rainy May 2nd. For many women, this event is a labor of love, as outfits are meticulously chosen, topped off by some of the most incredible hats on the planet.

"Are you wearing a hat?" is a question I've been hearing for weeks. It's been years since I've worn a hat to the Hat Lunch, but this year I was determined to.

I put my whole outfit together weeks before. When the weather turned cold and rainy, I scrapped it, shopped in my closet, silently thanked Kate Middleton for giving me permission to wear panty hose, and still wore my hat.

I rode up to 105th Street with Muffie Potter Aston—wearing Pucci and a fabulous hat that she designed with a little help from her twin girls Ashleigh and Bracie—and with Somers Farkas, who was wearing a Maggie Norris suit and an ocean-themed Eric Javits fascinator.

"I love Central Park. The Conservancy does such great work to keep the parks beautiful, not only for us to enjoy but for our children to play in," said Aston.

"The Park is instrumental in the business and the quality of life of New York City. This is an important event to support," said Farkas.

This year marks the lunch's 30th anniversary. I learned from the speeches that the original lunch took place at Tavern on the Green, and 100 women attended. This year the white tent at the Conservatory Garden held 1,200 women. Tiffany was the sponsor and gave each guest an aqua tote bag. Wathne designed umbrellas to match—the umbrellas are a coveted perk every year, and proved particularly useful this time.

Gillian Miniter and J.P. Morgan were the honorees.

"What I love about the park is that it is an oasis for all New Yorkers. It offers something for everyone and it is available to all. To me it is the crown jewel of Manhattan," said Miniter, wearing Lela Rose and an Eric Javits hat.

"I love this luncheon and I always tell people that it is fun and whimsical, yet it is our biggest fundraiser and it brings in serious funds to support the Park. It is like no other event and everyone comes out for the Hat Lunch."

The hats were not to be believed; from a black bird's nest enveloped in black tulle, to a sombrero adorned with birthday hats and golf flags, most everyone made an effort. There were misses, but this being New York, there were mostly hits.

I was seated at Tracy Snyder and Allison Rockefeller's table, a long-standing tradition (sadly Rockefeller was ill and couldn't make it this year). I spotted Patty Smyth, Marcia Mishaan, Katie Lee, Caroline Kennedy, Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Ashley Baker, Karen Le Frak, Julie Macklowe, Carol Mack, Princess Alexandra of Greece, and many more at the tables around me.

The Hat Lunch remains a great New York tradition. Let's hear it for the park!

Photo: Lizzie Tisch, Julia Koch, Andrea Fahnestock, Anne Harrison, Gillian Miniter, Amie James and Sheila Labrecque