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The Art of Living Beautifully » Live with purpose. Live with faith. Live with beauty.

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Mad Hatter’s 2017: Under the Tuscan Sun

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Years ago when I was working at Sharla’s, I heard one of my customers talking about an event in Dallas called the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.  I had never attended, but the idea of a fabulous tea party at The Dallas Arboretum where outlandish hats take center stage had me intrigued.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party has been an ongoing fundraising event sponsored by the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden for the past 29 years. Monies raised grow and maintain A Woman’s Garden, an important attraction at the Dallas Arboretum.

In the spring 2015: I found myself standing in Ginsberg Plaza among the North Texas fashion elite. The April in Paris theme brought forth hats boasting Parisian accoutrement such as Eiffle Towers and The Moulin Rouge. I quickly learned when it comes to the construction of these head-lining treasures there are no boundaries: legos, feathers, spray paint, Barbies…truly nothing was off limits.


Each year awards are voted on by the some 500 guests and given to the most fabulous hats. Can you believe my first year the gorgeous Alessio Marzi  hat I purchased at Sharla’s won Most Elegant?

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In 2016 I found myself back at Mad Hatter’s this time greeted with a  Steel Magnolias theme.

944050_978638448857146_8622519291291686696_nIn January of ’16 I attended an Alessio Marzi trunk show at Sharla’s and the genius milliner himself selected my hat. It wasn’t necessarily on theme, but I LOVED it anyway!

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With Hedy Sawyers and Linda Spina

To say the people watching is fun at Mad Hatter’s is a vast understatement. The attendees gather in Ginsberg Plaza to visit, sip a perfect on-theme cocktail, take pictures and view hats for the first part of morning.


The hat judges


Linda with Janine Turner (Miss Merry Christmas!!) and Jocelyn White


We then make our way to Rosine Hall for a live auction and fashion show…of course this is my favorite part of the day! Beautiful Spring style from TOOTSIES took to the runway last year, and I’m excited to announce they are returning for Mad Hatter’s 2017! If you have never visited TOOTSIES before, head to Preston Center and take a gander around the two-story fashion house well stocked with shoes, jewelry, accessories, dresses, jeans and everything else in between.


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 Lunch (and of course tea!) is served after the fashion show under lovely white tents.


This year, my sweet friend and former customer, Linda Spina–the one I overheard talking about Mad Hatter’s all those years ago–is chairing the event and I am on her committee. Our theme, Under the Tuscan Sun, will invite party-goers to take Italiano freedoms in planning their bel capello. Inspiration like Sophia Loren, sunflowers, il duomo and spaghetti al pomodoro will no doubt take the shape of hats on Ginsberg Plaza this year. I’m excited to see all the fabulous creations. The hat categories for Mad Hatter’s 2017 are:

Molto Italiano (“Very Italian”) — Most True-to-Theme. Everything Tuscan, from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the art treasurers of Florence to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and everything in between.

Rachel’s Pick — Special guest Rachel Zoe’s favorite hat. The best of the best, from her point of view.

Bella Donna (“Beautiful Woman”) — Most Elegant.

A Taste of Italy — The food and drink of Italy.  Wine, cheese, pasta, pizza and more!

Bellissima Botanical — Best Botanical. What would Mad Hatter’s at the Arboretum be without hats adorned with beautiful flowers?

Fellini’s Follies — Famed late Italian film director Federico Fellini always worked in a group. Best Group of Hats.

Mamma Mia! — Most Outlandish. Go wild!

Ciao Bella! (“Hello Beautiful”) — People’s Choice. The best of the best, as voted on by the attendees.

If you are interested in attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, please visit the Dallas Women’s Council website by clicking here.

Hope to see you there on April 27!

-ciao for now-


photo credit: Dana Driensky and Daniel Driensky

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