Glorious Hats and Fabulous Weather Graced the Dallas Arboretum as Mad Hatter’s Tea Under the Tuscan Sun Celebrated its 29th Year with a Sold-Out Crowd benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and A Woman’s Garden

Amy Warren and Amanda Hill, Honorary Chairs| Linda Spina, Chair | Sharla Bush, Vice-Chair
Melissa Lewis, President, Women’s Council

(Featured photo: Amy Warren, Honorary Chair; Melissa A. Lewis, President; Rachel Zoe, Celebrity Guest; Linda Spina, Chair, Mad Hatter’s Tea; Amanda Hill, Honorary Chair.  Second photo: Sharla Bush, Vice-Chair; Terry Irby.) *

Logo by Lynn Dealey

What a beautiful and glorious day it was at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Under the Tuscan Sun at the Dallas Arboretum last May.  Celebrating its 29th year, this stylish and fashionable tea benefited the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and A Woman’s Garden, the only public garden in the nation inspired by women, funded by women and dedicated to the universal spirit of women.


A sold-out crowd of  almost 500 chic ladies dressed in stylish frocks, lovely and sophisticated hats and gents in their fancy duds – many of both in wild and wonderful over-the-top hats relating to everything Under the Tuscan Sun – joined with friends from Dallas and some traveling from Houston and more from as far away as New Zealand, who plan their trips to Dallas not only to take part in the Mad Hatter’s Tea, but to view the splendid springtime azalea displays and thousands of flowers in colorful bloom at the arboretum.

Chaired by Linda Spina with Sharla Bush as vice-chair and honorary chairs Amy Warren and her daughter Amanda Hill, the event began at 10:00 a.m. as limousines lined the parkway, ladies donned their hats and strolled the red carpet. Women’s Council president Melissa Lewis greeted friends and supporters as bellinis and champagne were served and appetizers were passed while paparazzi snapped photos outside in the beautiful Ginsburg Plaza and hat judges marked their favorites.

Celebrity guest and hat judge Rachel Zoe created quite a buzz, having flown in from Los Angeles and appeared with fashion show sponsor TOOTSIES friends Nerissa von Helpenstill and Dustin Holcomb. Rachel is an unparalleled fixture in the fashion world known for her unique take on effortless glamour, fashion stylist to the stars, clothes designer, author and editor of The Zoe Report.

Also penciling-in their favorite hats in special categories were judges  Kori Green, jewelry designer, attorney and wife of country singer, Pat Green; Tara Green, president of Klyde Warren Park; Courtney Kerr, editor of KERRently, a fashion, beauty, interior design and travel blog; Caroline Kraddick, Kidd’s Kids CEO/Chief Happiness Officer of the Kraddick Foundation; Dallas-based fragrance designer Niven Morgan; Dallas’ own First Lady, Micki Rawlings, community leader, volunteer and wife of Mayor Mike Rawlings and the judges team of Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing, Park Cities restauranteurs and owners of Shinsei and Lovers Seafood and Market.

Mistress of Ceremonies and former Mad Hatter’s Tea chair Jocelyn White welcomed the crowd inside Rosine Hall as everyone was seated for the very chic fashion show spotlighting Rachel Zoe’s spring, pre-fall and fall fashions produced by the fabulous Jan Strimple.

A spirited live auction featured a TOOTSIES shopping party, white topaz drop earrings with diamonds from deBoulle, a private cooking class for 12 at The Cookery, a land tour of Rome by Father Daniel Hennessy, International Director of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museum, custom millinery by Bay willow Design and winners of the “Box of Style” accessories donated by Rachel Zoe.

Excitement filled the air as these hat winners were announced, each strutting the runway with resounding applause:
*  Molto Italiano “Very Italian, Most True-to-Theme” was presented to winner Joanie White by Caroline Kraddick;
* Bella Donna “Beautiful Woman,  Most Elegant” was presented to winner
Cynthia Smoot by Kori Green;
* A Taste of Italy “The food and drink of Italy” was presented to winner
Carmen Surgent by Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing;
* Belissima Botanical “Best Botanical” was presented to Terry Irby by Tara Green;
* Ciao Bella! “Hello Beautiful, People’s Choice” was presented to winner
Katherine Phillips by Micki Rawlings;
* Fellini’s Follies –  Famed Italian film director Federico Fellini always worked in a group.  “Best Group of Hats” was presented to Steve Kemble and Chad Collom by Niven Morgan;
* Mamma Mia! “Most Outlandish” was presented to winner Lynne Lowder by Courtney Kerr;
* Rachel’s Pick,  Rachel Zoe’s favorite hat, the best of the best from her point of view, was presented to winner Amy Warren by Rachel Zoe, who was exuberant in her enthusiasm for the event and said she loves Texas! She had never experienced such a spirited and glamorous event.  She thanked TOOTSIES for inviting her to Dallas for this most elegant and colorful Mad Hatter’s Tea and said she was honored to be a part of this celebration of spring.

Luncheon was served plein air under canopies of elegantly draped white tents with tables swathed in flowing green silks and topped with huge luscious flower arrangements of tulips, hydrangea, roses, daisies and some even included lemon and ficus trees.

Everyone lingered as they enjoyed the Italian-inspired menu from antipasti to dolce, from savory to sweet, and a most memorable, lovely day.

Welcome to Mad Hatter’s Tea Reception Team

Heartfelt thanks go to Mad Hatter’s Tea media sponsors PaperCity, The Park Cities News/The Waters Family and

For more information about the Women’s Council and a Woman’s Garden, visit the website at

Since its inception in 1982, the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has supported the Dallas Arboretum.  It is a group of over 500 strong who have a passion for nature, beauty and gardening. It supports A Woman’s Garden, the only public garden in the nation conceived by women, funded by the efforts of women, and dedicated to the universal spirit of women.  The garden is maintained under the loving guidance of loyal members.  Major fundraising events include the Writer’s Garden Seminar in the fall and the signature fundraising event, the Mad Hatter’s Tea, held annually at the Arboretum in April.

* Photos by Dana Driensky, Daniel Driensky, official Mad Hatter’s Tea photographers and contributing photographer, Danny Campbell.

(Sharon Adams, Adams Communications Public Relations, chaired the third Mad Hatter’s Tea, is a former member of the Women’s Council Board of Directors and is honored to continue to represent the Women’s Council’s Mad Hatter’s Tea.)

News about the 2018 Mad Hatter’s Tea will be revealed in November 2017.  Stay tuned!


Entrance to A Woman’s Garden, endowed by the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and  beneficiary of the Mad Hatter’s Tea. Photo courtesy the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Read one of the first and most comprehensive articles written about A Woman’s Garden for D Magazine by Richard Brooks:



Principal of Philanthropy Lifestyles (formerly, the award-winning eBuzzNewsletter and Adams Communications Public Relations, a boutique PR firm specializing in media and community relations for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Sharon is also a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Dallas Business Journal, Katy Trail Weekly, People Newspapers (Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People/North Dallas People), Preston Hollow Life magazine, The Park Cities News, White Rock Lake Weekly, numerous blogs and websites and more.