As retailer Richard Carroll said, surveying the ballroom: "It's certainly a beautiful gathering. You can't have more beautiful people. The women are gorgeous. The men are dressed immaculately. That's what Rodeo Drive is all about."
Rodeo Drive, that short stretch of high-rent shops, hotels, restaurants and hair salons in Beverly Hills' so-called golden triangle, is also about business.
Ten years ago, the merchants decided to form an association known as the Rodeo Drive Committee to protect and promote the street's glamorous image. So when the 10th anniversary of the organization was marked Friday night with a "Perfect Ten Gala" at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, there was plenty of reason for revelry.
Impressive New Tenants
"It was like a bottle of champagne that exploded and bubbles came out," said committee chairman Max Baril, choosing an apt metaphor to describe the group's, and the street's, track record. As proof, Baril, who owns the Beverly Rodeo and Beverly Pavilion Hotels and is corporate director of Fred U.S.A. jewelers, ticked off some of Rodeo's most impressive new tenants, including Polo, MCM, and, come next summer, Giorgio Armani.
Meanwhile, Fred Hayman, whose Giorgio boutique is destined for a name change next year, talked about introducing "two or three" new perfumes. "We'll have the greatest gala ever given," he said, making the launching of the original Giorgio perfume "look like it was for peasants."
More important, however, there seems to be substance behind the Rodeo Drive sheen. Many merchants maintained they were untouched by last month's stock market crash. "My business is like Christmas in November," said Herb Fink, owner of the Theodore, Theodore Man, Sonia Rykiel and Montana boutiques. "I think we felt a more negative impact from the earthquake," Baril added. "The people who come to Rodeo Drive are solid citizens."
Some 400 of those solid citizens turned out for the evening, including entertainers Ricardo Montalban, Cheryl Ladd, Sidney Poitier and Ed McMahon; designers Georges Marciano, Ray Aghayan and Nolan Miller; Beverly Hills Mayor Ben Stansbury, L.A. County District Attorney Ira Reiner, restaurateur Patrick Terrail, real estate tycoons Donald Tronstein and Dar Mahboubi-Fardi, and cultural and community leaders Judy Feder, Vicki Reynolds, Gail Abarbanel, and Joanne and Roger Kozberg.
For the first time in its decade of gala giving, the committee decided to donate proceeds of the event to worthwhile causes, a not-so-subtle image change that was applauded by all.
"The way I feel," said this year's party chairman Norma Fink, is that "this street, like a movie star that has already gained all the notoriety it can gain, should turn in upon itself and use what it has to help others." Honorees Bob Mackie--named Designer of the Year at the gala--and community activist Sandra Moss--Woman of the Year--were asked to select their favorite charities. Mackie chose Aid for AIDS and the Parson's School of Design; Moss, SHARE and the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica Hospital.
A breathless Jerry Weintraub--who explained that he had dashed over from dinner at Chinois in Santa Monica and changed into his tuxedo in the car "so if I'm not dressed in Rodeo Drive standards, I apologize"--introduced Allan Carr, who introduced a singing telegram of sorts for Moss. Moss' comrades from SHARE, plus Michelle Phillips ("we needed a real singer," said SHARE member Pam Korman), sang "Makin' Whoopee," or, rather, a newly worded version of the tune which included the line " . . . Rogers and Cowan could learn from her."
Mackie's Fashion Show
"Dallas" star Linda Gray, sheathed in long, black lace by Mackie, brought on the designer, who remains as low key as his clothes are high voltage. For his segment of the evening, Mackie offered a fashion show consisting of seven stand-out evening dresses--all in red.
On a final fashion note, there was hardly a pouf or miniskirt in sight among the black-tie crowd. "I learned the hard way with a fur coat," said a philosophical Ellen Byrens, wearing a long gown by Zandra Rhodes. "You can always make it short, but you can't make it long again."
Norma Fink, in floor-length Nolan Miller, suggested another theory: "I don't really think miniskirts are quite it yet in our town."