Adversity is supposed to make us stronger, right? Rain clears the skies. But does it dampen a party? Figuratively, yes; really, no. Not when slick-haired Christian Lacroix, the most sensational Paris fashion rage since Dior dropped hemlines, comes to California. Los Angeles dazzles.
When torrents fell the other evening, slamming up traffic on freeways, Saks Fifth Avenue instituted its weather-emergency plan to save the affair it was staging to salute Lacroix on the lot of 20th Century Fox. After all, Saks had fought and won the battle with other major Southern California stores to show Lacroix's haute couture, to present his collection of luxe for advance orders and to introduce in the late spring of 1988 his first ready-to-wear collection for fall 1988.
The Saks leaders, New York chairman Mel Jacobs and Beverly Hills general manager Martin Fischer, decided rain should not fall on the $250,000 evening. Awnings were erected. Buses were substituted for open-air trams to move the 600 guests from Stage 6 (the cocktail party in a Parisian street setting) to Stage 18 (pseudo-bullring ambiance and the fashion show).
Dozens of courteous Saks employees guided traffic and popped open umbrellas. The effort was sincere, but the entry canopy still leaked. Suzy Carter arrived dodging drips in her Bob Mackie. So did Raylene Meyer, actress Jane Seymour, Dick and Jenny Schreiber, John and Kathinka Tunney, Wendy Goldberg in black Galanos, Tina Brackenbush in Dior ruffles. (She heads People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and has corresponded with Lacroix regarding his use of animal skins in fashion; and she organized half a dozen protesters who stood in the rain at the Fox lot entrance demonstrating for animal rights.)
Also there were Suzy and Michael Niven, Penny Bianchi in Donna Karan sequins with daughter Leath McCormick, Eleanor Phillips, Fred Hayman, Katherine and Arpad Domyan, Marilyn Duque and Alyce Williamson. Such crowds always cope. Linda Pennell commandeered a limousine and mixed practical leather boots with her white Mary McFadden and white mink capelet.
No one seemed to mind when the show started an hour late. The longer to eat shrimp. Among the indulgers were the Lacroix Couture Council 21, representatives of the Costume Council Patrons of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Share Inc., the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Because the groups split proceeds four ways, there were ample smiles from Ann Johnson, Nelly Llanos and Terry Stanfill of the Costume Council, from Share's Gloria Franks and Sandra Moss, from the Joffrey's Joan Burns (though husband Alan raised an eyebrow that "a whole pony" must have been sacrificed for a Lacroix skirt) and Marjorie Volk, and from the Women's Guild's Loraine Sloan and Mimi Meltzer.
What everyone adored were Lacroix's theatrical, saucy, futuristic costumes. An idolizing crowd tossed gold and pink carnations when he appeared for his tribute.
Night became morning. Patty Fox, Saks' director of fashion and publicity in Beverly Hills, had decided the soiree needed whipped cream: dinner at Chinois in Venice. Wolfgang Puck stood at the curb of the restaurant after midnight in his white chef's attire welcoming revelers. (After some waited for cars an hour, there were only three no-shows among 100 invitees.) Puck's vivacious wife, Barbara, hospitably ushered in guests for the sweet curried oysters with salmon pearls, scallops with cilantro, duck liver with ginger "Lacroix," Oriental lobster risotto, Peking duck with plum sauce and pastries Chinois. But eyes were on Lacroix with his wife Francois (in Lacroix red silk), introduced by Saks' Helen O'Hagan, Andrea Fischer and Roz Jacobs.
Commented inveterate party-goer Joanie Smith thenext day: "I haven't gotten home at 3 a.m. in years."
YOUNG BLOOD: When appointed organizer Joe Regan stood beside "The Blue Boy" at the Huntington Library to greet new members of the Huntington Society of Junior Fellows (membership 40 years old and under), his father-in-law Dick Call murmured: "We have the family working." Announced Huntington director Robert Middlekauf: "This marks the beginning of an extraordinary group of young people. . . . We know they are going to give us inspiration and keep us lively and vigorous."
The group is partly the brainchild of Overseer member Malcolm McDuffie, who believes "the future of an organization depends on the young people who will be the leaders tomorrow. . . . Anyone who becomes involved with the Huntington falls in love with it." His son Duncan, a Security Pacific assistant vice president, and Duncan's wife Marie are founding members.