Events like the 25th annual Old Bags Luncheon in Palm Beach on February 21 at the Breakers seem to happen easily. It is a silent auction for gently used (and some new) handbags in the Mediterranean Ballroom to benefit the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County.

New and gently used handbags on display, 2024 (Photo credit: BFA / Michelle Kammerman)

For the $1,000 + VIP ticket holders, there was a chance to sip mimosas with Martha Stewart in the Magnolia Room. Plus an after-luncheon book signing with Lewis Miller, the Flower Flash designer. Tickets at every level, even $400 “junior, under 40” limited tickets, were sold out for weeks.

Martha Stewart at the luncheon (photo credit: Capehart)

Why? No one expects to find a hidden Birkin, or Mouawad’s 1001 Nights Diamond Purse (priced at $3.8 million) at this silent auction. But there will be the likes of Gucci and Prada, Chanel, Judith Leiber, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton artfully displayed. And the crowd knows what each one was worth new and is worth today. All of them have passed the vetting of the Old Bags Luncheon committee.

The luncheon kickoff in November (Photo: Capehart)

And boy have they been busy. A pre-luncheon luncheon happened in November, with 30-some folks gathering to hear the event chairs — Robin Gillen, Tim Johnson, Fernando Wong – outline the schedule and announce the honoree: the former model, creative director for Judith Leiber and philanthropist Dee Ocleppo, also known as Dee Hilfiger. Donors began rolling in, Jack Nicklaus and his wife, Jennifer; the landscape designer Wong; Chubb; Nest Seekers (the realtor Stephanie Schwed is an auction chair); Bank of America; the Real Real… dozens and dozens. Carolina Herrera donated a handbag.

Alyssa Quinlan with the “It Bag” (Photo credit: BFA / Michelle Kammerman)

There was a Sip ‘n’ Shop bag drive in early February at the Italian handbag palace Tattanelli, complete with lots of pooches. Guests included Barbara Pendrill, Theodora (Theo) Pace (an auction chair), Michelle Gluckow, Todd L’Herrou, president and CEO of the Center for Family Services; Jacki Parmacek, Jacqueline Chilow, Betsy Levin, and three women familiar from the Hampton: Pamela Morgan, Ramona Singer and Elizabeth Steimberg.

Ramona Singer and Jean Shafiroff, with their own handbags (Photo credit: BFA / Michelle Kammerman)

Those attending the luncheon included Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger, Liz Quirantes  Todd L’Herrou, Ellen Vaughan, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Ramona Singer, Jean Shafiroff, Fernando Wong, Robin Gillen, Tim Johnson, Robin Gillen and Tim Johnson (Event Chairs), Diane Smith and Tammy Pompea (Honorary Chairs), Alyssa D. Quinlan (CEO, Freeman’s Hindman Auction), Karen Swanson, Sonja Stevens, Arlette Gordon, Lois Pope, Kathryn Vecellio, Marie Unanue, Allison Nicklaus, Barbara Nicklaus, Sarah Wragge, Claire Florence, Karen Rich, Michelle Russell Johnson, David Handy, and Donald Dallaire.

The event culminated with the distribution of the handbags to gasps and cheers for the winning bidders. This year’s “It Bag” was proudly displayed by Alyssa Quinlan.

The ladies who luncheoned walked out of the Breakers into brilliant afternoon sunshine with not one, but two, perhaps more, prized bags.