Joan Irvine Smith wore Hermes silk and orchids. Judith Krantz wore candy-pink Chanel and Reeboks. And Zsa Zsa Gabor wore snow-white linen and emeralds the size of postage stamps.
Everybody, it seemed, was dressed to impress at the lavish brunch on Sunday that celebrated the final day of the Oaks Classic, a horse-jumping competition in San Juan Capistrano that featured $75,000 in prize money.
"Jimmy Kohn gave me this corsage," said Smith, smiling as she surveyed the flowers that bloomed on her left shoulder. "I wouldn't let him pin it on me, though. He'd ruin my dress!"
For the third year in a row, Smith, along with Kohn, her horse trainer, her mother, Athalie Clarke, and Martin Cohen, her horse show manager, have staged the Classic, the smash of Orange County's springtime social season.
"I was in Santa Barbara only yesterday," said Judith Krantz, author of "Scruples," "Princess Daisy" and other racy novels about wealthy women. "And when I told my girlfriends I had to leave to go to San Juan Capistrano to the Oaks Classic they said: 'My goodness. That's the (horse) event of the year.' "
Joan Irvine Smith agreed. "This is a way for me to entertain my friends and have a horse event that is considered tops in the country," said Smith. "Last year the people of Hermes (sponsor of one of the Classic's jumping events) said there was nothing in Europe that could compare.
"It's all very rewarding," Smith continued, eyes scanning the flower-bedecked jumping course and the lavish buffet laid out under a block-long canopy. "It's a way to entertain, a way to promote the horse industry and a way to do something for Orange County that is absolutely unique."
Of Kohn, she said: "He's an excellent trainer and an excellent judge of horses, the best out here as far as I'm concerned."
Is he a boyfriend? "We're just friends," Smith said, eyes twin kling. " Just friends. He gave my mother a corsage too."
Guests arrived fashionably early. Among the first was Zsa Zsa Gabor, a guest of Hermes, who came with her husband, Prince Frederick von Anholt, and their two Shih Tzu dogs--Zoltan Gabor and Macho von Anholt.
"I love polo," Gabor said, dog leash in one hand, red parasol in the other. "I'm going to England soon to play with Prince Charles. Do you know who's playing today?"
Gabor had her horse events mixed up. " Zsa Zsa, " prompted Francine Bardo, manager of Hermes in Beverly Hills, where an ostrich-skin saddle sells for $6,335. "I told you this was a jumping event."
"Oh! I jump too!" Zsa Zsa said. "I do everything!"
As she began her trek across Smith's Astro-Turf covered ranch property, guests--among them, Renee and Henry Segerstrom (she, in marigold linen by Hermes, he sporting a Hermes tie), Arvella and the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, UC Irvine Chancellor Jack Peltason and Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates--got to ogle the living legend who would spend her day sitting close to Smith, dining grandly and feeding her dogs water from a plastic cup. "I give them water, but I give my horses champagne," she said.
Even the trash cans look good at the Oaks Classic. Like the white luncheon tables, they were arrayed with brightly colored tablecloths.
"Style. That's what this event is all about," said New York's Chrysler Fisher, president of Hermes, USA. "And Hermes, pronounced air , as in the air your breathe, and mezz as in mezzanine," he said, "is all about classic elegance, an understated presentation."
Rococo of Van Nuys catered the affair, which, with classic elegance at tables blooming with spring bouquets (by Costa Mesa's Chris Lindsay), presented mountains of exotic fruit and tacos with a choice of crab, beef or chicken; New York strip and medallions of Australian lobster tail. And more. A sundae bar featured vanilla ice cream with toppings that included crushed Oreo cookies and Heath bars, strawberries, hot fudge and whipped cream.
"I can't believe how much I ate today," wailed Donna Crean, who said she had knuckled down in recent months to lose loads of weight. "The sundae bar was my favorite."
Also dining under the canopy: Laurent Mommeja, decendant of the Hermes family in Paris; Hollywood motion picture producer George Sidney ("Showboat," "Pal Joey") and his wife, Jane (formerly married to Edward G. Robinson); Paul and Virginia Knott Bender; Mary and James Roosevelt; Pilar Wayne with Jerry Kobrin; Linda Irvine Gaede (who toted carrots for the two horses she entered in the Classic); Elizabeth and Tom Tierney; Donna O'Bryan; Orange County Supervisors Thomas F. Riley and Don R. Roth, with their wives, Emma Jane, and Jackie; Dick and Marilyn Hausman; Margaret and Carl Karcher; Lillian Fluor; Scott and Mary Lou Hornsby and Lois and Buzz Aldrin.