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Big Names Decorate Dinner's Guest List

January 20, 1989|ANN CONWAY

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Norman Lear, Judith Krantz and Sir Daniel Donahue, a frequent escort of Loretta Young, are among the glitterati who plan to attend the gala opening Feb. 4 of the Center for the Study of Decorative Arts in San Juan Capistrano.

On the menu: something continental with a Scandinavian flair, whipped up under the sophisticated eyes of chefs from Gustaf Anders, an elegant restaurant that will open in South Coast Village mid-February (owners Wilhelm Gustaf Magnuson and Ulf Anders Strandberg recently closed their fashionable La Jolla dining spot to become part of the Orange County scene).

On view: an ensemble of loaned collectibles--Krantz's pricey snuff boxes, Alice Avery O'Neill's whimsical tea caddies, some of developer Art Birtcher's rare antiques--that will be part of the center's premier exhibit, "California Style: Collectors and Collections."

The center, a dream come true of Capistrano antiques authority G.R. (Gep) Durenberger, is the first of its kind on the West Coast. And, if the prediction of Stanley Barrows, dean emeritus of the Parsons School of Design in New York, comes true, it will become the Cooper-Hewitt-- the museum for decorative arts in New York--of the West.

Krantz is among Durenberger's treasured clients, and it was at a bash in her stylish Los Angeles home last fall that Lear and his wife, Lyn, met Durenberger. Now, they --Durenberger and Krantz--met through interior designer Joan Axelrod, wife of George Axelrod, producer ("The Manchurian Candidate") and screenwriter ("Breakfast at Tiffany's").

Also expected to attend: revered designer John Saladino, a Notre Dame chum of Durenberger who has done interiors for such clients as Susan Harris, creator of television's "The Golden Girls."

One notable who hoped to attend but sent sad regrets: Bill Blass, the designer whose clothes are frequently worn by Barbara Bush. He's sending party favors instead, flacons of Blass fragrance.

(By the way, according to insiders, it was supposed to be a gown by Blass or Arnold Scaasi that the new First Lady would wear when she whirled about the inaugural balls. Scaasi won.)

Pearls of wisdom: Speaking of Barbara Bush's favorites, Kenneth Jay Lane's boutique of faux jewels at South Coast Plaza is being overrun by seekers of pearls, a la the kind Mrs. Bush sports on a regular basis. "Sales are up 25%," said Melissa Parker, vice president and fashion director for Lane in New York.

(You probably know this, but Lane was a favorite designer of the Duchess of Windsor. In fact, Lane was so favored that the duchess was buried in one of his unreal diamond belts.)

Lane is betting that Barbara Bush will don his pearls when she dresses for inaugural festivities. "I'm sure she'll wear them to the inauguration," he said.

Parker is quick to remind you that Nancy Reagan also loves Lane's double- and triple-strand necklaces, which sell for $135 and $155, respectively. "He created them for Bill Blass a few seasons ago," she said. "Blass wanted something smart and savvy for his daytime suits."

So what is it about pearls? Why are they the chosen necklace of classic women? "Ah, they are the perfect accessory," Parker said. "Very flattering. They give a woman a nice glow. When the light hits her face, it also bounces off the pearls and emphasizes the cheekbones. Everyone looks pretty in them."

Not to mention the fact that double and triple strands "conceal neck wrinkles," Parker piped.

As for Lane, well, look for him to visit his store in April. He loves to pop by Costa Mesa on his way to Swifty Lazar's annual Oscar party.

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