Raising a Paddle for the Hats

By Richard Mineards   |   June 20, 2023
Lori Willis, Executive Director of the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara, with Leslie’s daughter Suzette (in her own hat) and co-host Louis John (photo by AlmaRoseMiddleton.com)

It was really a hair-raising event when extensive millinery and glorious vintages of wine from the Birnam Wood home of the late uber philanthropist Leslie Ridley-Tree, who moved to more heavenly pastures at the age of 98 in October, were auctioned off at Moving Miss Daisy’s Consignment and Auction House and the Louis John Boutique in La Cumbre Plaza.

One of Leslie’s dear friends, Hiroko Benko tried on many hats and bid on more – promising to share them with the women she knew who were eyeing the hats she won (photo by AlmaRoseMiddleton.com)

The sale of more than 50 hats, from top designers like Philip Treacy, Anouska Hempel, and Frederick Fox, one of the late Queen Elizabeth’s tony tête topper makers, and 36 bottles of vintage wine, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Magic Castle Private Cuvée, raised $11,284 for the hat and wig boutique at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center.

Writer Erin Graffy, a friend of Leslie’s, and Jim Fiolek, founder of the Santa Barbara Vintners Association, acted as auctioneers for the evening before the sale went online the next day selling designer fashions including Hermès, Christian Dior, Gucci, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton, and Mary McFadden, who I used to escort to the Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

“It’s almost surreal seeing all the hats and clothes like this after living with them for years,” commented Leslie’s daughter, Suzette. “But it’s going to a very good cause.”

Among the guests were Hiroko Benko, Judi Weisbart, Ellen Goodstein, Sharon Bradford, Mary Gates, Diana Langley, Caroline Thompson, Mark Whitehurst and Kerry Methner, Terry Ryken, and Gil and Susan Rosas.

Hats off to them all….

Carol Ritz modeling one of the silent auction hats, who came as a guest of real estate whiz, Terry Ryken (photo by AlmaRoseMiddleton.com)

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