Countdown. . . .
Only 24 hours until Orange County's social season officially begins with the regal "Tiffany Ball" at the new Tiffany & Co. at South Coast Plaza. Although scads of galas have been splashed across society pages since summer's end, the bash for South Coast Repertory Theatre is still considered the one .
The guest list says it all. On the roster: Paloma Picasso--daughter of Pablo Picasso--who is jetting in from Milan; Tiffany & Co. Chairman William R. Chaney, coming from New York; Carl's Jr. Chairman Carl S. Karcher; James Roosevelt and oodles of Segerstroms, including Henry, managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, owners of South Coast Plaza, his mother, Ruth, and 550 other of Orange County's glitterati.
The ticket price is pricey--a breathtaking $300 per --but worth it. Where else can you participate in a scene right out of Audrey Hepburn's most delightful movie?
Furs have been whipped from the vault. White ties have been laundered and starched. Gowns have been commissioned. And jewels--especially jewels by Tiffany--have been cleaned and gleamed.
Chaney, for one, will sport the gold and inlaid mother-of-pearl studs that are "the only appropriate thing to wear with white tie," he said.
How does Chaney, who makes the national swirl, survive the social season?
"By enjoying it," he said. "And the reason I enjoy it is the people I meet. Certainly, it is enjoyable to be with alive, exciting, intelligent people from all over the world.
"If you viewed social occasions grudgingly, they wouldn't be much fun. But, if you relish the idea of being with grand people and sharing a little bit of their lives, then it is marvelous."
Picasso, touring Florence and Milan to promote her new accessory line, said that in her travels around the world, "the social whirl is always starting."
"Different countries have different seasons of activity," she said. "And, sometimes, because of the hectic pace, I do miss some events, and it's a bit of an escape."
But, the striking woman who designs daring earrings and necklaces for Tiffany said she "loved the excitement" and, this year, chose to make the special trip from Europe "just to be in Orange County".
Besides honorary chairwoman Renee Segerstrom, the gala committee comprises the nine women who have chaired SCR's nine previous galas.
Barbara Bowie, chairwoman of the 1984 gala, said she loves "the season."
Her secret to surviving it? (She is high-profile on the circuit.) "Enthusiasm for life! Really. You gotta get out among 'em. Have a good time. See what's going on. Be aware.
"I love people. I love to know what they are doing, what they're thinking. I find it all very interesting."
Bowie, a fashion pacesetter and a member of the the Performing Arts Center's prestigious Angels of the Arts, will don a black-velvet, puff-sleeved Oscar de la Renta for the affair.
But more than clothing, it is jewelry that gives her a thrill when she is on the town.
"It's the icing on the cake," she said. "I don't feel dressed until I put my lipstick and my jewelry on."
Lydia Wang Himes, chairwoman of last year's gala, is playing down her ball jewelry. "My gown is shocking pink with huge puff sleeves and black ribbon trim around the top.
"So, I've chosen to wear only diamond and black jade earrings."
How does she survive the season? "I try to be discriminating," said Himes, a designer of industrial interiors. "I choose maybe three or four ball-type events per year.
"It's hard when you have a career. And it can be self-defeating to go to too many. You simply burn yourself out."
How sweet it was: Noble rot, otherwise known as wine a la botrytis, accompanied dessert at the 100th anniversary celebration of Hotel Laguna on Tuesday night. Botrytis?
"Botrytis is the fungus that makes grapes rotten," explained Fred Russell, president of the Orange County chapter of the California Wine Writer's Forum.
"When they become rotten on the vine the sugar content goes sky high and that makes the wine very sweet."
And so it went for about 100 guests of Georgia and Claes Andersen, who bought the hotel three years ago. Fine wines, such as the Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis 1983 and Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 1978 were served with a menu that included ravioli stuffed with foie gras, pear sorbet and venison.
Andersen said he has been happy being the proprietor of the hotel that has the picture-postcard view. "Don't I look happy?" he said. "The hotel has more than lived up to my dreams. I love it here. I love Orange County. And I love Lagunatics."
In the crowd: Wes and Peggy Cotton, a member of the Southern California Restaurant Writer's Assn., with husband Wes; Helene and Herb Baus; Robert Balzer; Doris Crandall; Vi and Don Smith and Michael and D.N. Evans, the Laguna Beach fashion designer.