The spring gala season can be a long march for the social set, one black-tie gala after another, but every year New Yorkers for Children's Fool's Fête provides a bit of relief: The dresses are shorter, the colors are brighter, the evening's program is by comparison more concise, and the thirty-sixth-floor ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental gives a great view of Central Park's just-bloomed trees.
It was just the occasion for which philanthropist Gillian Miniter had been saving her Ralph Rucci sequin cocktail dress: "Usually Ralph is pretty covered up, but not this one—va-va-voom!" Leandra Medine dramatically introduced her Max Mara dress, "Do note the cascade of orchids down my left breast."
The crowd last night did feel that NYFC's cause was one worth dressing up for—and worth fighting for, apparently, as two women went head-to-head over some handbags in the silent auction. Said one bidder: "If she thinks she's walking away with that Prada, she's the real fool tonight."
After the dust had settled, guests took their seats for dinner. The keynote speaker was a student recipient of the organization's scholarships, telling the room that, "In eighth grade I was valedictorian, and I had to give a speech to a huge crowd. But tonight I'm a bit more nervous…I never thought I would belong in such an elegant crowd as this." When the student announced that she will be graduating this year from John Jay College of Criminal Justice because of NYFC's generosity, the room erupted in applause. Emma Roberts told Style.com: "All kids deserve a fair shot. Everybody needs that, no matter who you are."