The dress--gently fitted, lightly flounced, barely poufed, buttoned, bowed, bustled, jacketed, leggy or to-the-floor--is the star of Oscar de la Renta's fall collection, which had its California premiere in a cavernous white tent next to Amen Wardy's Newport Beach boutique. "I love the idea of a dress," said de la Renta, as he sipped caviar soup before Wednesday's showing.
"A dress that allows a real presence of a woman's body. This is an important collection. A new movement in fashion has begun. . . . "
The show and luncheon, a benefit for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Orange County staged by its Angelitos de Oro guild, marked the first time Wardy had synchronized one of his fashion extravaganzas for charity.
Wardy visited New York to invite de la Renta to Orange County. "I wanted the women to see glamour," said Wardy, ushering his 8-month-old poodle Lafite (draped in a $130,000 diamond necklace) around the boutique's ballroom, where 600 women had gathered for the champagne reception.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday May 14, 1987 Orange County Edition View Part 5 Page 14 Column 1 View Desk 1 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
In Ann Conway's column Friday about a showing of Oscar de la Renta's fall collection benefiting Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Orange County, organization president Jack de Kruif's first name was reported incorrectly.
"Oscar de la Renta is one of the most glamorous designers in America," said Wardy. "If a woman wants to look glamorous, she'll wear a de la Renta." The designer, who had returned from a European vacation only the day before, said this new movement in fashion is to create a very feminine silhouette for the woman "who has proven herself.
"She's at ease in the board room now," de la Renta said of today's woman. "She doesn't have to wear the pantsuits she wore in the '70s. She knows femininity is an asset."
The collection featured figure-conscious shapes that de la Renta said were meant to echo, in a whisper, "the roundness of a woman's body--her bosom, her waist, her hips. Women who are too skinny are not good for clothes anymore. Hips are a very important element in fashion. They are a woman's most feminine part. It is much better to be rounded, you know." Guests, who'd paid $125 each to attend, had final bites of Dutch chocolate flan with raspberries (created by Rococo of Los Angeles with a woman's figure in mind, said benefit chairman Maria Crutcher, who added, "This is so light it has to be harmless!"). Then they settled back in white folding chairs to view fashions that, some gushed afterward, made up the most romantic collection they'd ever seen.
"A killer collection," said Judie Argyros, who, after the show, ducked into the boutique to slip into a de la Renta (over her own pink and black Ungaro). The petite brunette, wife of developer George Argyros, owner of the Seattle Mariners and prospective buyer of the San Diego Padres, said she was interested in 22 of the items in the 121-piece collection.
First shown on the wet-look, white vinyl ramp were jacketed dresses and suits--taupe wools trimmed in sheared beaver with matching hats (furs, velvets, felts, cashmeres and animal skin toppers seemed de rigeur for day wear). Oatmeal-wool jerseys, some with three-quarter coats, others with stoles, followed.
Then, a parade of dresses, suits and gowns in romantic colorings--solo or in combination with panther black--had the audience of women oohing in approval. There were tobacco browns, pine greens, pinkish persimmons, hyacinths, clarets, deep purples, bronze-golds, creamy whites, and, finally, the designer's signature look--a richly beaded and embroidered paisley-print jacket (a veritable Italian mosaic paved, as it were, with thousands of beads) outlined in a fluff of sable. The ladylike silhouette packed a flirty wallop. The gown beneath featured a transparent chiffon bodice. "Ummmmmm," said one guest. "Wonder how I'd do in that."
Formal ceremonies included a check for $125,000 presented by Angelitos de Oro to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a nonprofit organization based in Tustin that provides companionship for children of single-parent families in Orange County. The check represented donations by auxiliary patronesses, proceeds from the fashion show and the auxiliary's Gold Book, a slick tome containing ads sold by auxiliary members.
Funds will go toward operation of the agency, executive director Jo Alexander said. "The money mostly goes for salaries. We need to pay the caseworkers who provide services such as the screening of the big brothers and sisters, matching them with the children and all of the supervision, counseling and training that goes along with it.
"The case we provide for most often is the divorced woman who needs a companion for her son," Alexander said. "We have 118 boys on the waiting list."
De la Renta said he, too, knows about lonely boys. "After my wife died three years ago, I learned of a baby boy in the Dominican Republic who'd been thrown in a trash can. He was discovered by two little girls on their way to school. I adopted him and called him Moses," he said. The world-renowned designer said he also subsidizes an orphanage, Casa de Ninos, in the Dominican Republic that houses 350 children. "It gives me great joy," he said.
Benefit chairman Crutcher was assisted by co-chairman Helen Starling. Also on the organizing committee were Happy Hildebrand, Mary Amundson, Sharon Winterhalter and Trish O'Donnell. Jane King is president of Angelitos de Oro. Ralph de Kruif is board president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.