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Benjamin Epstein

Show Highlights 'Dallas' Fashions

March 20, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

Designer Bill Travilla brought fashions from Hollywood to the Irvine Marriott last week, where 250 members of the Sophisticates, a fund-raising group for the Assessment and Treatment Services Center of Santa Ana, were having lunch. The room was a sea of hats.

I. Magnin kicked off the show--which raised $10,000, according to chairman Darleen Manclark--with swimsuits and a miscellany of props including a rottweiler named Bruno and drum majorettes; the women applauded every male model.

Travilla began his portion of the affair with the dress he created for Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch," which he surmised is "probably the most photographed dress in the world."

Stars from the television show "Knott's Landing" were to serve as models, but, according to Sophisticates president Mary Sabatasso, they didn't show. So Travilla continued with clothes he created for "Dallas," focusing on the emotional odyssey of character Sue Ellen.

Travilla's commentary went something like this: "In this scene, Sue Ellen looked radiantly beautiful in a glittering chiffon gown with one sleeve of burnt ostrich blooms. But J.R. ignored her--he was going with Mandy. Sue Ellen slunk off into a corner, had one drink too many. . . .

'More Than She Could Take'

"About that time, we lost poor Bobby. He was killed. Sue Ellen got herself together to go to the funeral, but it was more than she could take. . . .

"Come here darling; that dress is on backwards," Travilla said to one model. (He wasn't kidding.)

The last design brought down the house: a floor-length black sequin gown featuring rhinestones at the top of a thigh-high slit, black and red ostrich feathers at the neck and a matching rhinestone-and-feather one-armed wrap and mask.

ATSC, which provides counseling for juveniles, has embarked on a new program, according to board president Jim Dale. Whereas referrals came only from police departments in the past, referrals will now also be accepted from junior high and high schools.

"We want to get the kids before they get to the police departments," Dale explained. "We want to handle a problem while it's still a potential problem."

The Sophisticates themselves haven't been exactly problem-free this past year.

According to Dale, past Sophisticates president Mary Ann Miller and members Beverly Thompson Coil, Joan Stevens and Sassy Luby resigned from the group in order to start another, similar, program. "They came in, did their work for ATSC and became excited by one aspect of ATSC," Dale said. "They wanted to expand on it, so Beverly Thompson Coil started SEARCH."

During Miller's tenure--she served only four months of a year's term before resigning last April--membership increased from 30 to 120. Miller, who did not attend the luncheon, offered another version of events that led to her resignation.

Desire for Autonomy

"We felt the Sophisticates had to be autonomous," Miller said, "separate from the executive board of ATSC, of which Jim Dale was president. He never had a post in the Sophisticates, yet he wanted to control it--he announced that he would pick the next president."

According to Miller, the Sophie Award for Design Excellence, which was presented to Travilla after lunch, was originally intended as an incentive for upcoming Orange County designers. Last year's award was given to the Irvine-based Lexi d'Angelo.

President Mary Sabatasso, who attended the show with her baby granddaughter--"It's her first fashion show," she noted--recently admitted that the group now gives the award "to whoever does the fashion show."

It's kind of like the Rose Parade. Only instead of the women riding on top of the floats, the floats ride on top of the women.

"All that's missing is the marching bands in between," said Daniel McKenna of Newport Beach, one of 800 guests at the 25th anniversary Bal Masque sponsored by Damas de Caridad. The floral headdress ball, a fund-raiser for St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton, took place Saturday night in the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland Hotel.

Actually, the constructs of aluminum tubing, mesh, Styrofoam, glue and flower petals are smaller than floats: Rules stipulate that the diameter be no more than six feet, the weight no more than 25 pounds. On the other hand, they're bigger than hats. Though the creations appear to be balanced on the women's heads, it's an artful illusion--the women, referred to as mannequins, wear a tight-fitting corset with a back brace.

"It takes hundreds of hours, just hundreds of hours," noted florist Chris Lindsay. Two designers who work for Lindsay--Jerrol Cline and Brian Rogers--created "First Snow," which incorporated fog effects. Don Honald's "There's no Business Like Show Business" used lights so that the shadows of the petals danced on the ceiling above.

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