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ANN CONWAY

2,500 to Toast Opening of 3-Story Showroom

September 30, 1988|ANN CONWAY

The last laugh was on Eddie Murphy when he ordered a black-on-black XJS Jaguar from Lee West's Newport Imports dealership six months ago.

"When we delivered it to him in Beverly Hills," West said, "we sent a black-on-black Aston Martin Volante along with it. When he saw that, he bought it, too. It was a salesman's idea. And it worked!"

Such entrepreneurial salesmanship has made West's dealership the third largest of its kind in the country.

But West longs to be top gun. So he has expanded his Newport Beach showroom to include three stories just to house the dreamy Jags (author Truman Capote loved his Jaguar so much that he dubbed it a "Faberge on wheels").

And come Saturday night, West, along with an expected 2,500 guests, will christen the new structure with a black-tie buffet and champagne auction to benefit the Assessment Treatment and Services Center of Orange County.

On the invitation list?: Besides Murphy, customers such as O.J. Simpson (he cruises south county in his red Ferrari10); Reggie Jackson ( loves his two Ferraris); Henry Segerstrom (has bought a couple of Jags there); William Lyon (Ferraris) and Don Koll (also prefers Jags).

Seventy of the British-made cars will be on the showroom floor opening night. And for women who could care less about wheels, West will have his chic clothing boutique--Ellesse--open for shopping-till-you-drop.

Now that's hot.

Still water?: Bulgari jewelers came from New York to the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach on Sept. 22 to help raise funds for the Performing Arts Center. By showing $5 million worth of jewels to about 300 Center supporters, Bulgari planned to test the waters (they hope to open a store in the area within five years) and donate to the Center by turning over 10% of the profits. It was a storybook affair. Guests dined at twilight on sumptuous hors d'oeuvres, tossed down cocktails and bubbly from several bars--all on Bulgari--all the while ogling the gleaming gems. They were invited to make appointments--the hotel's governor's suite would be arrayed with the baubles for the next six days--with sales rep Marta Ortega.

Well, so far, the waters have been for wading only. By Wednesday morning, 30 people had looked, Renee Segerstrom among them (she and Henry were tickled that Bulgari wanted to fund-raise for the Center), but nobody had bought. "People have said they will think it over and come back," said Ortega, sounding a little exhausted by it all. "We think it's wonderful that 30 people came to see us. But, of course, I would rather have gone back with a million in sales. I do that in Texas, why wouldn't I be able to do it here? I ask you, is it a system you have here--you think about it and come back?" Stay tuned. It's not over till the fat lady sings. And Ortega promises to keep in touch.

The secret is out: Speaking of Performing Arts Center supporters, an elite new Center support group has been formed. Called Joie de Vivre, it will have a 50-couples-only membership paying annual dues of $500 each. Party agendas will include nights when top chefs will be invited to whip up their culinary specialties and vintners who will be asked to marry wines to the food.

Just call it Celebrity Inn: During the last week, the Four Seasons hotel has not only had Placido Domingo sweeping through its corridors (he was at the Bulgari bash), but also Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal and Calvin and Kelly Klein.

Fawcett and O'Neal spent Saturday night there after attending the March of Dimes gala at the Irvine Hilton as guests of Amanda Elam and her husband Dr. Michael Elam, the Newport Beach plastic surgeon who turned Phyllis Diller into a glamour puss.

On Sunday, the Elams brunched with Fawcett and O'Neal at the Four Seasons and played tennis.

Is a face lift on Farrah's wish list? "I told her she doesn't need it," said Elam who does "a face lift a day." "And she doesn't. She looks great!" But didn't he think she was a little thin? (At the March of Dimes gala, people were startled by her petite frame.) "Well, like the French say, there comes a time when a woman has to choose between her face and her fanny." Come again? "At a certain age, when a woman's face is full, so is her fanny. When her fanny's thin, so is her face."

The Kleins spent Wednesday night at the Four Seasons. They were in town to promote Klein's new fragrance, Eternity, at Nordstrom in South Coast Plaza.

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