It was as unpretentious as it gets at $150 a pop at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point.
Sure, there were a few ball gowns that cost as much as condos. And yes, a couple of floor-length furs swooshed around the auction tables, competing for light with this or that outsize gem.
But mostly the crowd at the Interval House's 10th annual auction ball was toned down, relaxed, festive.
"We like to think of ourselves as a family," said Mary Walton, executive director of Interval House, a crisis shelter for victims of domestic violence, serving women and children from Orange and Los Angeles counties.
On Saturday night, that extended family numbered 420 people. Guests arrived early for a champagne reception and silent-auction bidding. On display near the check-in desks were architectural renderings of a proposed new facility for the shelter--an expansion project begun with some of the benefit's proceeds.
Bob Armstrong, chairman of the capital campaign drive, estimated the total cost of construction at $2 million. "We're just getting started (with the drive) tonight," he said.
Also hovering near the drawings was Michael Woodley, an architect with Kaufman & Broad, the firm that donated the shelter plans and has worked extensively with Interval House to upgrade its facility.
"We really like this group, and obviously this is a very worthy cause," said Woodley as Walton linked arms with him and smiled. "This is just another stage of involvement for us."
That very worthy cause was up about $200,000 after the ball, according to Cynthia Courtney, event co-chairwoman, along with Walton, Carol Anne Williams and Isa Smashey Rogers. Courtney said about $150,000 of the proceeds will be used for operating costs, with the remaining $50,000 going to the building fund.
Interval House has temporarily housed about 3,000 women and children since it was founded in 1980. When the new facility is completed, the shelter will have 56 beds, according to Adele Faulkner Quinn, a board member and facilities chairman.
Quinn and others mentioned several prestigious awards the shelter received in the last year as confirmation of their work--and a boon to fund raising. Among the honors Interval House received as it rounded the corner on its first decade: a Department of Justice award for outstanding volunteer legal aid programs, a governor's award for outstanding work with victims of crime and a Disneyland community service award.
"It feels really good to get those kinds of awards because it says that (we're) a solid, legitimate group . . . doing a job that needs to be done," Walton said.
In keeping with tradition, dinner was followed by testimonials from women who have "graduated" from Interval House, a live auction, then dancing.
The event was dubbed "Le Bal du Bicentenaire" and touted as an "official French Bicentennial celebration."
Among the guests were the consul general of France, Gerard Coste, and his wife, Naomi; former California governor Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, and actors Beverly Garland and John Schuck.
Also attending: Harlene and Michael Goodrich, Charlene Robinson, Patsy Lopez and David Neill, and Tak and Karen Toda (she in a 70-year-old kimono).