The Christian Lacroix dress--bowed and beribboned, laced, frilled, aproned and short--made its Orange County debut Friday and left about 200 wide-eyed women wondering: "Is that all there is?"
There was a problem.
Only 20 of an expected 75 dresses made it to the showing at the Amen Wardy boutique in Newport Beach. The rest of the springtime ensembles, chirped a fashion rep, were hung up in customs in New York. Some even remained in Paris.
So, Wardy's preferred customers--fashion plates, all--were treated to but a mouthwatering smattering of fashion appetizers and left dreaming of dinner.
No problem. Pre-show time, Wardy assured the by-invitation-only crowd that 180 pieces of the black and black-and-bold-colored Lacroix, at $1,800 to $14,000 a crack, would be available this week at his Fashion Island store.
Before the brief show, Wardy waxed ecstatic about the 36-year-old Parisian who's set the fashion world on its collective ear with shamelessly kicky and pricey dresses: "Lacroix is hot. He's new. And the reason is, his fashions don't look like anybody else ' s. "
Except Marie Antoinette's.
The let-them-eat-cake era has inspired Lacroix's gentle bow-bustles, rich little jackets and dresses that pouf here, there and mostly everywhere.
"He's too hot for words," said Newport Beach's Cerise Feeley, decked out in lipstick-red polka dots by Bill Blass and same-color broad brim, courtesy of Frank Olive. "His couture dresses cost as much as a nice car.
"I may buy a dress today," Feeley added, confiding that she handles all of her and hubby Larry's (he's in building materials) finances. "But, it would have to be something totally outrageous." (Post-show time, Feeley expressed more than a passing fancy in a body-skimming, black-and-white number, a frills-edged valentine gracing its bodice. "Perfect for a special luncheon," she said, getting ready to trot off to the Ritz restaurant. "With a hat.")
Budget (perish the thought) was the whispered watchword at the affair. "Mine is, well, less than the national debt," said a laughing Mimi Crosson, attired in gold-trimmed black knit by St. John. "I already have butterflies over three dresses I've seen on the racks here today.
"Seriously, for me to purchase a Lacroix, I'd have to be sure it was one of a kind. That was my problem with Bob Mackie. No matter how much you spent, you saw yourself somewhere. I think great designers should do one-of-a-kinds."
Lillian Fluor, attired in cornflower-blue knit by Oscar de la Renta, said she wouldn't dare estimate her fashion budget. "Some years I spend more money than others," she said, shaking her head. "I shop here mostly. Amen has brought something to Orange County that doesn't exist anywhere else in the country. But I'm not sure I could get away with Lacroix."
Joan Woolley, hot pink with excitement over a $4,000 ring she'd just purchased in Wardy's David Webb salon, watched the show in a toast-shade sheath by Ungaro. Afterward, the blonde socialite confessed her annual clothing budget was around $50,000.
"But that's not always just clothing," she said. "Some years I spend that much because I've bought furs and jewelry, too."
"It's like an addiction," Crosson admitted.
Feeley said: "Buying clothes takes care of anything mental that may be going on.
"It takes over."
Models mincing in Lacroix weren't the only women wearing 18th-Century-inspired dress in Newport Beach on Friday.
That evening, 200 supporters of the Mozart Camerata Chamber Orchestra gathered at the Four Seasons hotel for the second annual "Amadeus Ball," which netted about $20,000.
In a ballroom smothered with silver, coral and jade balloons ("They used goat bladders to get this effect in the 18th Century," piped Ami Porat, orchestra director. "Painted them different colors"), guests, many in elaborate costume, dined on filet mignon and his-and-hers desserts--apple tart for the women, chocolate mousse for the men.
Sipping bubbly during the reception, Porat said he was delighted with the orchestra's progress in the past year. "We've tripled our subscriptions and had good reviews," he said, explaining that a chamber orchestra was "a small symphony, 37 to 40 pieces. But a big symphony in Mozart's day.
"It was the full symphony of the 18th Century," Porat continued. "The music of the period offers beauty, peace, enchantment and enlightenment. I tell people they only need to come to a concert once."
Porat wore a copy of the Mozart costume in the film "Amadeus." His mother, Shoshana ("Rose in Hebrew," he said), created his blue-satin britches. And his father, now deceased, made the white pique vest. "I sometimes wear it when I conduct," Porat said. "Both of my parents were couturier designers in Romania during the '40s. My father sewed for the king."
Entertainment was provided by Ballet Pacifica, which performed an original dance number,"Dialogue."
Susan Bartlett and Judy Hemley were co-chairwomen of the $125-per-person gala. Les Cotton is president of the orchestra board. The ball committee included Michael Perkins, Ruth Ding, Dina von Burger, Ruby Lloyd, Lillie Hinde, Ann Blake, Mary Blake, Peggy Cotton, Sylvia Popov, Diane Slemons, Elaine Lucas, Linda Ott, Marie Fargo, Ruth Jensen and Eve Foussard.