If you've swept the floors for couturier Bill Blass in your apprentice days, you've got super contact power, and Nancy Vreeland can be pleasingly aggressive. Now the wife of Thomas Vreeland (son of Diana Vreeland, former Vogue editor), she was a Blass employee in New York.
With that resume, she had the credentials ("Blass is my good friend") to call and ask for a benefit favor that developed, with the help of Helen O'Hagen of New York Saks, into a sensationally fun evening of fashion last weekend--not only with Blass, but the elegant Caroline (pronounced Caro leena ) Herrera and the irrepressible Carolyne (pronounced Carolyn) Roehm (pronounced Rome)--the ultimate in major-domo-ing of New York fashiondom. The result: the Monday evening SFA/USA Show on stage at the Mark Taper Forum, preceded by cocktails on the plaza with the City Hall as a vista. Then the promenade, on the Music Center's new red carpet (it's cheaper to buy than rent, they say) over to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for cuisine and wine and dancing to the Stepp Sisters.
Such an evening brings out the poshest (the word, Tom Wachtell reminded, derives from Port Out, Starboard Home on the old Pacific Orient Line--the best accommodations), and the men in the crowd Monday evening seemed pretty proud of their fine-feathered ladies. Dorie Pinola was on the arm of banker husband Joseph in white Rubin Panis. Entertainment mogul Marvin Davis escorted Barbara in a stunning Scaasi. Former Atty. Gen. William French Smith and Jean were a twosome, she in "my favorite dress"--a white Stavropoulos chiffon (which she also has in black). Restaurateur Henry Yost escorted wife Cindi, she in a seafoam Mary McFadden accented with lavender and green jade. If there was a gown without a haute couture label, where was it? Kathryn Arpad in a satin Jaqueline de Ribes, Rita Barrett in Chanel, Clarice Ellis in Oscar de la Renta, Mary Lou Hicks in red/white Galanos, Maria Mallace in Scaasi. Naturally.
But the pizazz came from Vreeland/Herrera/Roehm, as they frolicked for photographers during cocktails in their short, short skirts. The knee was really the thing. In fact, during the show, William French Smith whispered, watching the models walk: "Look how those legs work--it's taken thousands of years for the human leg to develop, and it works!"
Jean Smith, who's just gone on the board of Claremont University, was just as witty: "There seems to be a shortage of fabric this year."
However, the audience applauded most appreciatively, and no one was happier than Mary Jones later at the dinner when it was announced she'd won the $3,000 Bill Blass certificate. Mrs. Mel Dorfman won the Herrera certificate, Judy Borden the Roehm certificate. In the scheme of fund raising (the party will net $100,000 hopefully), patrons were entitled to chances on the major gifts Vreeland and her committee assembled. Thus, Mrs. Happy Franklin was the richer with a crocodile bag; Lili Fini Zanuck won the 12.5-carat Harry Winston diamond necklace set in platinum, and Patricia Fredericks Dolson took the glorious Russian golden sable jacket, from Revillon, designed by Herrera.
Winners, too, were Norma and David McIntyre. When Robert Abell conducted the auction, they got the Paris couture trip with round-trip fare on Pan Am, five nights at the Hotel Plaza Athenee and invitations to the winter showings for Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Louis Scherrer and Ungaro.
The crowd was the sort that is busy most nights of the week: Stephen and Kitty Moses (he was just back from the Bohemian Grove) were to be honored Wednesday night as Couple of the Year by the Big Sisters; Otis and Dody Booth, joining Clark and Joni Smith, were immersed in details for the dinner Saturday evening honoring Harvard's departing headmaster Christopher Berrisford; Roger and Joanne Kozberg had numerous plans for politics and the Fraternity of Friends agenda; Dan Frost, president of the Music Center, and Mia Frost, and Esther and Tom Wachtell pretty much had the Music Center goal of $12.3 million on their minds; Joann and Julian Ganz were back from New York; Wendy Goldberg, sitting at a heavy Hollywood table with husband Leonard, was excited about her new beauty endeavor, "Active Life," in partnership with Chris Everett.
Saks officials received plaudits from Robert Smith, chairman, Music Center Unified Fund 1987. He presented Martin Fischer, vice president and general manager of the Beverly Hills store, with a limited-edition sculptured plaque created and cast by artist Robert Graham in acknowledgement of Saks becoming a Music Center benefactor.
Also stars of the night: Arpad and Kathryn Domyan, who attended with their son, Bryan. The evening before, they had hosted the SAKS/USA patrons at a glorious party with pink peonies designed by Jef in to-the-ceiling arrangements. More than 160 partied under the tent on the l'Orangerie parking lot before dining until almost midnight in the restaurant.