Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

March 10, 2013

Black Diamond Lillies group glitters, turn heads

TRAVERSE CITY — Wherever they go, The Black Diamond Lillies are sure to be followed — by curious glances and camera flashes.

Dressed ostentatiously in black, from their floor-length gowns and slippers to their wide-brimmed hats bedecked with flowers, feathers and faux jewels, the women — make that ladies — create an unmistakable fashion statement.

Tying it all together: gloves, furs, scarves and bags, and lots and lots of bling.

“We’re full of glitz and glamour,” said Joan Julin, who heads the Lillies, a registered group of the international Ladies of the Hats organization. “At the City Opera House, it was like paparazzi (when we walked in). We couldn’t sit down for half an hour.”

One of three area hatted groups organized and led by Julin, the Lillies get together about once a month to socialize and flaunt their elegance among polite society. Favorite outings include attending plays, musicals, concerts and tea parties at places like the City Opera House and Black Star Farms, whose lavish settings provide the perfect foil.

“I want to go where there’s a lot of ambiance, so when you get all dressed up, it feels like you’re in the right place,” said Julin, whose rhinestone-framed glasses and fur-trimmed hat are among the first things observers notice. “This isn’t a group for women who just like to plop a hat on their head. It’s for ladies who really like to dress up and don’t get a chance to.”

Turning heads is half the fun, said Marge Panek, of Cedar.

“We like to be elegant, we like to be noticed. The more bling we can put on our hats, the better,” said Panek, 68, who often decorates her own with finds from craft stores.

Notice came early during a recent group luncheon at Copper Falls Steakhouse in Traverse City.

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