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Naples Social Season Blooms with Hats in the Garden

Naples Social Season Blooms with Hats in the Garden

From left: Connie Vandenberg, Jody Lippes, Mary Ann Bindley, Karen Scott, and Wynnell Schrenk, all members of the Naples Botanical Garden Sustaining Leadership Council Photography by Vanessa Rogers The tickets are coveted, the dresses are couture, and the message is clear: Naples’ social season has begun. And it starts unofficially—but officially to those in the know—with a magnificent millinery parade called Hats in the Garden. “People can’t wait to get their invitations,” says Mary Ann Bindley, a former chair of the highly anticipated Naples Botanical Garden fundraiser, which started in 2004. “The RSVPs start coming in as soon as they go out.” In the weeks and months to come, there will be benefit balls and hospital galas, wine auctions and celebrity appearances, golf tournaments and teas, and themed dinners of every sort. But it’s on the November day that about 600 women (and some men, too) don their finery and mingle amid the garden’s lush foliage that Naples’ philanthropic frenzy takes off. Perhaps it’s because Hats—as it’s most commonly called—is the first major event of the fall. Or because it emerged from a collaboration between legendary designer Carleton Varney and Naples grande dame Jane Purdy Berger. Or maybe it’s because of the festive mood and camaraderie. “There is just so much love and fun,” says Wynnell Schrenk, another former chair. “It’s just so exciting. It’s like a parade of everyone you love looking gorgeous, and we’re just thankful we can be a part of this community.” If Hats sets the tone for season as much as it signals its start, then Naples may be in for a particularly creative stretch. Jody Lippes, this year’s chair, conceived a theme that drew from her love of contemporary art and is rooted in the garden’s design. “I’ve always been intrigued by Henri […]

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