Just when the smart set thought it was safe to stash their flashy frocks and dream of spring, along came the dazzling "International Protocol Ball."
They dressed and then some for the gala at Le Meriden Hotel on Saturday that filled the Protocol Foundation of Orange County's coffers with $30,000.
Foundation president Gayle Anderson wore champagne moire silk festooned with a matching cabbage rose and mini-garlands of seed pearls. Donna Crean dazzled the 400-strong crowd in emeralds and a violet gown glimmering with silver bugle beads. (Why were she and hubby John chosen honorary chairpersons of the event? They weren't sure. They'd come to the ball every year, they said. But they hadn't donated any special amount to the organization. " Yet ," Donna said.)
Vivian Jensen, attending with husband Norman, wore triple-hot orange chiffon to honor Orange County, but of course. Margie Gephart, co-chairwoman of the gala with Shari Esayian (stunning in a sapphire-blue sparkler) wore black chiffon and a solid gold bow-tie choker paved with diamonds. Protocol Chief Mary Jones glowed in bead-encrusted silk. And Donna Peebles wore black taffeta and a train that created a problem. Her husband, Robert, kept tripping on it. "You'll just have to walk five steps behind me, darling!" she piped.
After enjoying champagne and appetizers in the hotel's Cafe Fleuri, guests, including 45 members of the International Consular Corps, swept into the ballroom. In a salute to world peace, tiny white doves graced the floral centerpieces, which adorned tables spread with snow-white cloths and matching china.
"Welcome to the occasion that makes the world a small place," said emcee Erich Vollmer. And then Vollmer cracked up the sedate crowd with a definition of a consul from "The Devil's Dictionary":
"A consul is an individual who, having failed to secure an office from the people, is assigned one by the administration on the condition that he leave the country immediately."
Joan P. Winser, dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, was happy to live in Los Angeles and to represent Canada, she said. "And I love this ball. This is my fourth one. The people here have such pride in their county."
Also among guests were Orange County Supervisors Don R. Roth, Thomas F. Riley and Harriett M. Wieder, whose idea it was to establish a local office of protocol.
Dinner included grilled filet of salmon with tomato and basil vinaigrette; grilled veal chop with lemon Szechwan pepper sauce, and chocolate truffle cake served up with a white chocolate medallion embellished with the protocol office logo.
Just before dessert was served, the hotel staff unveiled a glass-encased tribute to the protocol office--its logo (a world globe and a dove in flight)--done up in dark and white chocolate.
Also among guests: Carl and Pat Neisser, chairwoman of the Protocol Commission; Anne and Bob Badham; Jerrel Richards; Felicia Bukaty; Suzanne Pierce (stylish in a gilt-drenched Mary McFadden); Bill and Betty Belden-Palmer; Zee Allred; Al and Tricia Nichols (wearing an embroidered gown with an elaborately flounced train), Jo Qualls of Tiffany & Co. (blazing in sapphires) and Scott and Mary Lou Hornsby.
Ball committee members included Marjorie Cooling, Marla Patterson, Mary Anne Miller, Virginia Smallwood, Eve Foussard, Lea Edgar Petersen, Candice Schnapp, Eva Schneider, Marcia Geisler, Lucia De Garcia, Nancy Sorosky and Frank Michelena.
Be a clown! Not quite as stately, but every bit as fun was the "Circus Fantasy" held across town on the same night as the Protocol Ball.
Staged by the Irvine Chapters of the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the event featured frolic under the Big Top (all right, the Carousel Court at South Coast Plaza).
There were auctions, carousel rides, carnival games, popcorn carts, magicians, palm readers, clowns, you name it.
"We like to have fun!" said Diane Johnson, co-chairwoman with Margaret Thompson.
The event raised $28,000.