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ANN CONWAY

1989 Oaks Classic Won't Have Changed a Bit

May 05, 1989|ANN CONWAY

The word's out: Heiress Joan Irvine Smith won't have changed a thing when she presents her annual Oaks Classic on June 3 and 4 in San Juan Capistrano.

"Why fool with something perfect?" says Smith's horse show manager, Martin Cohen.

Exactly. For 3 years now, Smith has been stunning the horsy set with her grand prix show-jumping event and the lavish luncheon she tosses for close friends on its final day. (That also goes for the not-so-horsy set. Smith said last year: "A lot of people on our personal guest list wouldn't know the front end of a horse from the back. They're here for the party!")

There'll be the same $50,000 Oaks Grandprix class prize. And the same $10,000 House of Hermes Junior/Amateur Grandprix. And, of course there will be the stacks of mouthwatering fare served up under a block-long white canopy. And the slew of open bars. And the piped-in jazz music. And the celebs.

And the clothes. At these see-and-be-seen affairs, one is what one wears. At last year's luncheon, for example, Zsa Zsa Gabor arrived wearing white linen and bigger-than-a-breadbox emeralds. Smith herself, ever the horsewoman, appeared in a horse-ribbon print silk shirtwaist by Hermes. Author Judith Krantz ("Scruples") paired her petal-pink Chanel suit with Reeboks.

The prescribed attire for such soirees is really "something elegantly sporty," says Francine Bardo, general manager of the Hermes boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. "A basic skirt with a basic blazer and sensible shoes."

"Joan's attire was perfect; anything silk is appropriate. Zsa Zsa, well, she dressed as if she was going to a garden party. But Zsa Zsa can dress any way she wants, right? You could hardly picture her in a skirt and blazer. And Judith? Fine. She knew she was going to a sporting event."

Should one don a hat? "Only those against-the-sun kind of hats," Bardo says in her delightfully thick French accent. "Nothing floppy." Jewelry? "Anything gold is good. Gold has a way of blending in with everything."

Morsels: Arvella and Dr. Robert Schuller will step out with such celebrants as Abigail Van Buren Phillips (Dear Abby), Jane and Jerry Weintraub, Rhonda Fleming and Dr. Howard House when billionaire industrialist Dr. Armand Hammer puts another candle on his birthday cake May 28. Merv Griffin will emcee the bash at his Beverly Hilton hotel.

The Schullers were on Hammer's private 727 jet last year when the CEO of Occidental Corp. flew a flock of his pals to the Watergate in Washington to whoop it up on his 90th birthday. Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, gave the invocation. (Schuller met Hammer a few years ago when he invited him to hear the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale speak at the cathedral. They've been buddies ever since.)

Also on the agenda for Hammer's 91st birthday party: a before-dinner concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic (with a performance by violinist Isaac Stern), mariachi serenades during dinner, and a songfest with the McGuire Sisters apres the meal. And what are you doing on the 28th? . . .

Speaking of the Beverly Hilton, Athalie Clarke of Newport Beach was a member of the adoring tribe that swept into the tony hotel last weekend to watch former President Ronald Reagan receive the Humanitarian Award given by the House Ear Institute of Los Angeles. Institute founder Dr. Howard House is Reagan's otologist. (Reagan suffered a partial hearing loss during his days on the silver screen. During the filming of a Western, a gun went off next to his head.) In fact, Clarke--founder 9 years ago of the Associates, a support group of the House Institute--was a guest at Reagan's table, along with Dolores and Bob Hope.

"Ronnie was just delightful," Clarke said. "He was really just glowing--couldn't have been more appreciative of receiving the Humanitarian Award. And Bob Hope was a shining star. He did a tap dance. Dolores sang. And John Raitt sang; his voice hasn't changed a bit!" Clarke was escorted by her grandson, Morton Irvine Smith.

Clarke, mother of Joan Irvine Smith, keeps a crowded dance card. On Monday, she will zip back up to Beverly Hills to attend the birthday doings for her very good friend Sybil Brand at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. . . .

Watch for recreation vehicle manufacturer John Crean of Newport Beach and Ralph Edwards (remember him on television's "This Is Your Life"?) to receive the Path to Dignity Award from the American Parkinson's Disease Assn. June 15 at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Crean, founder of Fleetwood Enterprises--a Fortune 500 company--is well known in local circles for his philanthropy; Edwards is the association's national chairman.

Entertainment will feature a roast of fashion arbiter Mr. Blackwell. Members of his best- and worst-dressed lists are expected to be on hand to pay him some richly deserved "accolades." . . .

And while we're on Wilshire Boulevard, you might as well know that Amen Wardy, owner of that dreamy, pricey, heady boutique of the same name at Newport Center Fashion Island, will take over the Tiffany & Co. spot at the Beverly Wilshire in coming months. "Now that's going to be some opening party," Wardy promised recently. (Clotheshorses: Don't panic. The entrepreneur of couture plans to hang on to his Newport Beach boutique.)

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