Food. Fashion. More food. Speeches.
That was the formula for the seventh annual fashion show/luncheon of the Orange County chapter of Childhelp USA--a splashy benefit that drew 930 guests to the Irvine Hilton on Thursday and raised more than $70,000 for treatment of abused and neglected children.
The stars of the day were New York designer Arnold Scaasi--whose ultra-feminine, bold-hued, wrapped-waist creations tickled the collective fancy of the ladies who lunched--and honoree William G. Steiner, executive director of Orangewood Children's Home.
As guests, who paid $60 each, found their seats in the peach-and-white decorated dining room, chapter president Eileen Saul complimented the efforts of the underwriting committee.
"This is the first year we approached corporate sponsors (to underwrite) the luncheon," said Saul, chic in an electric blue Italian leather ensemble with matching dangle earrings. "We were nervous, but we figured, if they can give to all those other organizations, they can give to us!" (And give they did--donating a total of $30,000 to cover 100% of the expenses, according to event chairwoman Karen Voss.)
After culinary openers of garden salad, white zinfandel and hot filo dough stuffed with cheese, guests sat back as an army of models strode the runway in 70 of Scaasi's confections (shown courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue) draped on their coat-hanger bodies.
Before lunch, the soft-spoken designer discussed his love of short skirts--"very much a part of life now"--and his planned respite from the road.
"This is my last public appearance with the ready-to-wear clothes," he said, adding, with a smile, that his new collection opens in New York in three weeks, "so this is no time for me to be doing something like this."
Once the jazzy show was over, servers reappeared with plates of pasta, fresh vegetables, and chicken on a bed of spinach. At the arrival of dessert--wedges of chocolate mousse in pools of apricot and raspberry sauce--the collective memory of Scaasi's cinched waistlines vanished to the chime of silver colliding with china.
Attention turned to the dais after lunch, where Childhelp co-founders Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson presented Steiner with the Children's Friend Award.