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Nancy Reagan Lunch: Social Gridlock in Red : 500 Women Attend Fashion Show and Homecoming Affair

February 16, 1989|JEANNINE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

Nancy Reagan couldn't have had a better welcome home than having hundreds of women show up wearing her favorite designer, Adolfo.

The former First Lady was the guest of honor at a luncheon given by the Colleagues and an Adolfo fashion show sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue on Tuesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where 500 women--including the city's top society doyennes--turned out to greet her.

Red, of course, was the color, worn more as an homage to Mrs. Reagan (it's her favorite) than to mark Valentine's Day.

Mrs. Reagan, in a red Adolfo suit and matching bag, glided into two pre-lunch receptions where she was mobbed by old friends happy to see her back on the charity/social circuit.

The scene quickly turned into party gridlock as women surrounded Mrs. Reagan (who was surrounded by Secret Service) to welcome her back into the fold. At a receiving line she gave a huge hug to old friend Adolfo.

"It's nice being back," she said during one of the receptions. "I don't think I'm in the thick of things, though--I'm writing a book. But it's wonderful to be home.

"You've given me a wonderful coming home on Valentine's Day," she told the crowd at lunch. "It's so wonderful to see all my old friends, and to see some new ones."

Mary Emmons, director of Children's Institute International, presented Mrs. Reagan (a Colleague since 1962) with the Champion of Children award for her support of the Colleague Infant Care Center.

The Colleagues received a $30,000 contribution from the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Grace Salvatori was singled out for her $100,000 donation to the Children's Institute.

A Dozen Identical Outfits

Surveying the crowd, it looked like a sea of Nancy Reagan sisters--women in red suits, ash-blond hair neatly poufed, and sensible heels.

But that's really the point of any Adolfo fashion show (especially one that Mrs. Reagan attends); to show up wearing his clothes. It's de rigueur for any top designer's show, but with Adolfo, ladies delight in showing up in exactly the same outfit. It's not unusual to see half a dozen women in the same suit, and reveling in it.

"I consider it to mean I have exquisite taste," said Kay McKay, in Adolfo's black-and-white houndstooth check jacket, also spotted on Betsy Bloomingdale, Mary Davis and at least five others. Some even dared wear it with a leather skirt.

"I love every minute of it," the soft-spoken Adolfo said, beaming as he watched women parade past him in his creations. "I know most of these ladies."

The designer was confident that Mrs. Reagan would continue to have an influence in fashion, although she no longer calls the White House her home.

"I think she will always have an effect on fashion," he said. "Look how long Mrs. Kennedy's style has lasted."

But he'll be sending no suits to the current First Lady. "I think Mrs. Bush is a charming lady, but she has another style," he said diplomatically.

Dining on chicken breasts, pasta and fruit tarts were Harriet Deutsch, Marion Jorgensen, Nancy Livingston, Suzanne Marx (in a rare Adolfo duster coat), Keith Kieschnick (in a 3-year-old Adolfo knit dress), Cyd Charisse, Shirlee Fonda, Ann Miller, Dolores Hope, Barbara Walters, Betty Wilson, Giney Milner, Chardee Trainer, Barbara Davis, Nancy Vreeland, Terry Stanfill, Rosemarie Stack, June Haver MacMurray, Colleagues president Marjory Miller and special events chairman Erlenne Sprague.

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