It took four years before the New York Botanical Gardens finally got its holiday wish — an authentic winter landscape to perfectly complement Friday night’s annual benefit, the Winter Wonderland Ball. Tiptoeing past snowy drifts and through a frigid wind, guests, instructed to dress in white, silver and blue, were greeted in the garden by a two-story-tall Christmas tree, a toy train that covered a 6,000-square-foot replica of New York City and bars sculpted from ice.
"At last — a real reason to wear fur," enthused Natalie Leeds.
The champagne flowed, and by the time ladies like Fernanda Niven, Hilary Dick, Tory Burch, Marjorie Gubelmann and Ashley McDermott hit the heated dinner tent, they were ready to dance. DJ Tom Finn spun and guests headed for the dance floor before the main course was even served. Rena Kirdar Sindi, newly divorced, shimmied alongside Bettina Zilkha, while her date for the evening Israeli-Brazilian art dealer Alberto Mugrabi looked on. Bill Blass’ unstoppable Hervé Pierre showed off his considerable talents twirling every woman he could coax, as did Christian Leone.
"I’ve never had a lesson!" swore Pierre.
Moments before the Blass-clad chairmen, including Sloan Barnett, Whitney Fairchild, Julie Frist, Nathalie Kaplan and Aerin Lauder, were introduced, one-by-one, in front of the room, Barnett got a special boost of confidence from the evening’s master of decor, Bill Tansey.
"Bill always leaves me notes on my place card," she explained as she examined the card.
"‘You can go anywhere in a Blass,’" she read. "Now, that’s a keeper!"