Fashion and philanthropy teamed up twice this weekend, giving party-goers a look at what's ahead for fall--and a healthy dose of funds to help two local charities.
On Friday the El Camino Junior Woman's Club entertained 500 women (a sellout!) at its annual luncheon to benefit Orangewood--Orange County's emergency shelter for neglected or abused children. After more than an hour of early afternoon sunshine and socializing on the terrace at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel, the party moved into the grand ballroom, where lunch was followed by a dazzling fashion show presented by Laguna Beach couture designer D.N. Evans.
Leather, long sweaters, berets and beaded evening wear made several appearances down the runway--but it was the cobalt blue and black day-and-evening combinations that drew the most ooohs and aaahs from the audience.
At the tables, fall was also peeking out under the skirts of several women who sported boots under this year's long circle skirts--but most seemed in no hurry to say goodby to summer, and lots of silk dresses and summer-weight suits were seen.
Jennifer Mack, club president, introduced members of the Orangewood's board of directors, James McNamara and Elizabeth Tierney, and executive director of the home, William Steiner.
"It's an awesome responsibility to carry," said Steiner of the more than 2,600 children assisted by Orangewood last year, "but it's an easier burden to carry with the involvement of the private sector," he told the women.
Co-chairwoman for the event, Susie Olsen, said the events raised $10,000 for the home.
"I call it a three-ring circus," said Garnet Bank, referring to Huntington Harbour Cancer League's Debut VI benefit ball Saturday night.
And it was at least as much fun as party-goers were treated to not only a fabulous fashion show presented by Fashion Island's Atrium Court, but two auctions as well, followed by dancing.
The evening began with cocktails and silent auction tables--offering everything from a weekend in Washington to tickets to a whodunit murder game a la pre-war Paris.
Once inside the Moulin Rouge-theme ballroom--complete with plumed floral centerpieces at each table--bidding was fast and furious for several of the live auction offerings, which included an afternoon aboard the Goodyear blimp, Hawaiian vacations and the opportunity to entertain 23 intimate friends "Onassis style" aboard a 55-foot yacht.
But just as the auction began to heat up, the music came up, and the ladies of the HHCL began gliding down the runway in an array of Atrium Court's finest fall fashions.
Some say it was rigged--but cat-calls from one especially appreciative member of the audience confirmed the notion that the looks were sensational.
After the 40-minute parade of styles by Mondi, Anne Klein and Gianni Versace, among others, came the finale of three stunning gowns created exclusively for Debut VI by Dutch designer Leon Clyine (he is also creating several one-of-a-kind gowns for the opening night of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.)
But the jewel in the crown came later as Gean Kingsley's "magnificent obsession"--a 13.62-carat canary diamond-- surrounded by another 5.5 carats of small diamonds--elicited a frenzy of competitive bidding, ending in a draw. For $31,500, Karyn Abbott-Stone and David Hanser will share the jewel (which can be worn either as a ring or a necklace).
Kingsley is a gemologist and philanthropist extraordinaire (she is a cancer survivor and one of only five top-notch diamond cutters internationally) who designed the piece especially for the auction.
Event chairwoman Sandra Clouse, herself beautifully jeweled in jade sequins, said the HHCL was hoping to gather $100,000 in proceeds, which go directly towards cancer research.