Society / The Seen

Wild Hats and the Best People Watching in Dallas

This Mad Hatter’s Tea Lives up to its Titanic Hype

BY // 05.04.18
photography Dana Driensky, Chris Waits and Danny Campbell

What: Mad Hatter’s Tea A Garden By The Sea

Where: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

PC Moment: When it comes to people watching in Dallas, there’s one event that tops the rest. The legendary Mad Hatter’s Tea, benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden, is a spectacle like no other. The organization celebrated the 30th year of its signature annual event with A Garden By The Sea – a nautically-inspired high tea and fashion show, chaired by Venise Stuart and Sandy Secor.

Nearly 500 guests gathered in the greenery of the Arboretum wearing big hats, little hats; hats with feathers and hats with flowers; even a hat with a live fish in a bowl! Guests were treated to a vision of springtime blooms as the afternoon began with a champagne reception and hor d’oeuvres in Ginsburg Plaza within the garden. While some Mad Hatters sipped on bubbly, others strut their stuff for the judges, who later awarded winners in six hat categories.

As the final guests arrived, the party headed inside for the pre-luncheon festivities. Emcee Jocelyn White welcomed the crowd and introduced Women’s Council president, Melissa Lewis, who gave a brief history of the organization and thanked generous underwriters and sponsors. Then, the lights dimmed and the music turned up for a glitzy runway presentation. Jan Strimple featured the season’s best looks from TOOTSIES, including a rainbow of summery frocks.

After the fashion show concluded, the focus turned to the most important event of the afternoon: the hat awards. Guests including Kathy Cothrum, Julia Kanaan, Carmaleta Whiteley Felton, Kunthear Mam Douglas, Carmen Hancock and Debbie McKeever were recognized for their extraordinary headwear.

After the hat queens had been crowned, the stylish crowd headed outside to enjoy a seated lunch beneath an elegant canopy. Tables swathed in silky pastel cloths were topped with hydrangeas and seashells; The perfect setting for a seaworthy meal. The Titanic’s lettuce velouté soup was served first, followed by crêpes, herbed biscuits and afternoon tea.

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