Alice at the Factory

| Monday, June 18, 2012, 8:10 a.m.

The arrival of the invitation to the Mattress Factory's annual Urban Garden Party was cause for a second (if not third) glance by quite a few recipients, who were rather certain they had seen the woman portraying the Queen of Hearts at least a few times before.

“I don't think people recognized me at first,” said Barbara Luderowski, whose transformation came thanks to a multi-person effort to get the MF prexy to embrace the “Alice at the Factory” theme.

“It was everyone on staff. She had no idea how big it would turn out to be. Two hours of hair and makeup alone,” shared co-director Michael Olijnyk.

And so the story goes that more than 1,300 guests were falling down the rabbit hole and into the summer soiree that has become infamous for a history of bold swan dives into edgy, eye-popping territory. This year however, the evening embraced a surprisingly tamer atmosphere than usual, with nary a scantily clad partygoer streaking by.

VIPs were sequestered in a separate lounge upstairs for some pre-game cocktailing, while on the main level, the hoi polloi began filing in en masse about an hour later. Turning left at the hookah smoking caterpillar and a tattooed Alice, the centerpiece of the room was a long table reserved for what was hoped to be some signature entertainment but instead served as a Mad Hatter-led tea party for a dozen or so of the VIPs.

Meanwhile, outside in the tented area, the usual sardined atmosphere was alleviated by the absence of a center stage, where there was an air of anticipation for something sassy to happen that would captivate the imagination. Instead, it was the people-watching that took precedent.

Spotted among the crowd were co-chairs Sue and Scott Lammie, board chair Dr. Michael White andRick LeBeau, Chuck andKristen Hammel, Eric Shiner and photographer at large for Vanity Fair Todd Eberle, Nicholas Chambers, Ann Hamilton, Evan Mirapaul, Nita andSunil Wadhwani, Anne andAnju Dhanda, Suzy andJack Donahue, Hilary Robinson, Steve Sokol, Alan and Martina Wells, Scott Leff and MarilynMcDaniel, Ellen Mazo, and Helene and Tom Long.

As of last week, more than $160K had come in from sponsorships alone, and another $65K from ticket sales.

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