"Gardens of Greece" Mad Hatter's 2024 Luncheon

"Gardens of Greece" Mad Hatter's 2024 Luncheon


The Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and botanical garden is an organization of woman who supported Dallas Arboretum by providing financial support for A Woman’s Garden through fundraising efforts including the iconic Mad Hatter’s. In its 36th year, the Mad Hatter's Luncheon 2024 stands as a cherished tradition. This year's theme was "Gardens Of Greece." Women adorned in their artfully Greek inspired hats surrounded me with beauty. 



Arrival & Registration Hustle

As I navigated through the bustling crowd, the scene resembled the organized chaos of a backstage frenzy before a runway show. Amongst the flurry of activity, workers handed out name tags and the Greek Goddesses were adjusting their hats, ensuring everything was in perfect order. It was a sight to behold, reminiscent of a finely choreographed dance where every movement had purpose and grace. The air was alive with anticipation, each guest adorned in their Greek Garden attire, their faces lit up with excitement. It was evident that they took great pride in their work, ensuring that each detail was on display. With my badge secured and my hat adjusted just so, I entered a world brimming with fantasy.


Entering The Ginsburg Plaza & Embracing The Beauty


 Entering the Ginsburg Plaza, I was embraced by an aura of opulence, evoking the grandeur of ancient Greek splendor. My senses were enraptured by a symphony of delights. The soulful strains of a guitarist/saxophonist blended with the cheerful chirping of birds, while the gentle breeze carried the fragrant scent of blooming flowers. A Champagne reception awaited guests, offering tantalizing Greek-inspired cocktails and hors d'oeuvres from GILS Elegant Catering. On one side, contestants proudly displayed their elaborate hats before the judges, adorned with intricate floral arrangements and Greek statues, while others flaunted their Greek Garden-inspired hats, ready to be immortalized in photographs. Everywhere I turned, vibrant creations filled the air, enhancing the enchanting ambiance. I marveled at the creativity on display, each hat a masterpiece of imagination and flair.


The Judges

Among the highlights of the event were the captivating hat categories and the esteemed council of high-profile judges, including Cameron Westcott, Kristen Gibbins, Nathan Johnson, Esé Azenabor-Grembowski, Sabina Carr and Patti Flowers.

 Hat Categories

Each category offered guests the opportunity to express their individual style and creativity, resulting in a dazzling array of hat designs that truly captured the essence of the event.

  • Greek Mythology: Hats adorned with symbols and motifs from ancient Greek myths, paying homage to legendary gods and goddesses. 
  • Greek Life Sorority: Hats celebrating the sisterhood and camaraderie of Greek life, adorned with sorority symbols and colors.
  • Best Botanical Using Fresh Flowers: A celebration of nature's beauty, with hats showcasing intricate floral arrangements and botanical-inspired designs. 
  • Olympic Games: Hats inspired by the spirit of athleticism and competition, featuring symbols and colors associated with the Olympic Games.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Hats capturing the spirit of the movie.
  • Greek Goddesses: Hats embodying the grace and power of ancient Greek goddesses, featuring regal designs and luxurious materials.


Hats That Ignited the Imagination

Since childhood, my love for hats has been an integral part of who I am. Watching the women at church don their elaborate hats every Sunday was a source of inspiration for me. At the age of 16, I delved into the world of blocking and crafting hats myself. In the artistry of hat design, I found not only elegance but also solace and boundless inspiration.

Needless to say, my anticipation for attending Mad Hatter's this year was palpable, especially with the gracious invitation from Regina Bruce and the Lone Star Monarchs. Each hat I encountered at the event sparked my imagination and rekindled my fervor for millinery design.


Tammany Stern 

Tammy won the My Big Fat Greek Wedding category. Her hat, designed by Christian Illes, was a true masterpiece, ingeniously incorporating iconic symbols from the film. A real Bundt cake sat on the hat, adding to the charm, she accessorized with a bottle of Windex, infusing her ensemble with humor and whimsy.


Elizabeth Smith

Another winner, Elizabeth Smith (member of the Lone Star Monarchs), designed and wore a hat hat depicting Mount Olympus, with the 12 Greek gods emerging through clouds. Flowers arranged to resemble scenes from Greek mythology adorn the brim, creating a striking visual. Two miniature fog machines hidden beneath the clouds add a mystical touch. The gods are sculpted from stone and are part of a larger statue imported from Greece for this hat. What an amazing creation. 


Anna Berman


As the competition unfolded, my dear friend Anna Barman, a cherished member of the esteemed Lone Star Monarchs—a group dedicated to making a difference in Dallas—sat beside me. Anticipation filled the room as the categories were announced. While Anna didn't clinch victory, her veil adorned with lemons, reminiscent of a scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," drew admiration from all who witnessed it.


 Dr. Linda Burk


 Because of my love for flowers, this particular category, "Best Botanical Using Fresh Flowers", held a special place in my heart. The winner, Dr, Linda Burk, shared with me that she had used flowers freshly cut from her garden that very morning to create her exquisite hat. The beauty and fragrance emanating from her creation were simply breathtaking. It was a true testament to the dedication and artistry that went into each and every design showcased at the event. 


My Hat


While I didn't formally participate in the contest and my hat didn't strictly adhere to the Greek theme, I embraced the opportunity to pay homage to the event's garden motif with my floral-inspired attire. My hat creation stood out for its personalized touch and distinctive elegance. Despite facing challenges, such as sourcing the ideal paint for achieving the perfect shade of pink, I persevered, bringing my vision to fruition. The result was a harmonious fusion of color and form that seamlessly complemented the surrounding garden. Every detail, from the asymmetrical brim design to the delicate flower embellishments and sparkling rhinestones, spoke to my unique style. I even extended the floral motif to my handbag prototype, ensuring a cohesive ensemble.


The Grand Fashion Show


Image: courtesy of Culture Map


At approximately 11:30 am, we transitioned to Rosine Hall for the much-anticipated fashion show, graciously presented by NorthPark and orchestrated by the fabulous  Jan Strimple. The ambiance was meticulously crafted to host a runway spectacle of the highest caliber, featuring designs from renowned fashion houses such as ETRO, Nordstrom, St. John, Ted Baker, and more. From the pulsating beats of the music to the dazzling lighting and the impeccable ensembles showcased by the models, the entire experience was nothing short of breathtaking. The atmosphere buzzed with an electrifying energy that left us all captivated.


Culinary Delights

After the fashion extravaganza, I made my way to table 22, where I joined the Lone Star Monarchs. The gentle breeze on the Scott K. Ginsburg Family Plaza Patio made our outdoor seating truly delightful. Amidst the beauty of the garden, laughter filled the air as we snapped photos and relished each other's company. With every bite, flavors danced on my tongue, creating a symphony of tastes and textures that delighted the senses. It was a moment of pure indulgence, celebrating good food, great company, and the simple joys of life.


The End Of The Day

Images courtesy of Google 

As the day drew to a close, guest are encouraged to visit A Woman's Garden. Filled with care and an honor to mother earth, filled with hours of a labor of love. I found myself awash in gratitude for the unforgettable experience that was the "Gardens of Greece" Mad Hatters 2024 luncheon. To Regina Bruce and the Lone Star Monarchs and Woman's Council, thank you for inviting me to partake in this extraordinary event. Until next year, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to once again immerse myself in the beauty and splendor of this annual celebration.


Enjoy more photos from the event:

  Photos courtesy of Thomas Garza, Kunthear Mam-Doguas and Anna Berman

Back to blog

1 comment

What a great write up of one of the best fundraising events in Dallas! You looked fantastic.

Elizabeth Smith

Leave a comment