Eighty-five of the county's A-list hostesses gathered at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel on Friday for high tea and a fashion show. The party was underwritten by the fashion house Chanel in honor of the benefit committee for the September gala opening of a Chanel boutique in South Coast Plaza. The Costa Mesa store will be the 11th U.S. shop operated by the French clothing empire founded by the late Coco Chanel. Of the guests, only a few wrapped themselves in Chanel suits and dresses or dropped their lipstick and wallets into one of Coco's gold-chain shoulder bags. No problem, said Barbara Cirkva, a Chanel senior vice president who spoke briefly to the group before the show. "We just view (the party) as something for a lot of likely customers," she said.
Dressed for Darjeeling
Likely customers included Donna Bunce and Gayle Anderson, co-chairs of next month's $300-per-couple store opening, a benefit for Opera Pacific. Asked for the name on the label of her smart suit, Anderson emphatically declined. "No, no, no, no !" she said, laughing. Translation: not a Chanel. Bunce dropped the magic words "classic" and "timeless" regarding Coco's design legacy; as for her own non-Chanel party outfit, Bunce dropped to the bottom line. "Chanel is the most expense design house in the world," she said. How expensive? Well, Kasia Johnson, chairwoman of this year's Opera Ball, was recently checking the goods at the Chanel boutique in Beverly Hills. "I fell in love with this wonderful suit," she said. "It was $12,000." Oh. Anne Badham didn't wear her Chanel, but only because she "didn't really think about it." She explained: "I have this gorgeous white raw-silk spring suit, but it was in the back of the other closet, and I didn't think about digging it out." Peggy Goldwater Clay, in a peach-toned pantsuit she called "my catalogue item," allowed as how she liked the Chanel makeup and shoulder bags but found the clothes "not for me." Sandy Beigel joked that the dress she wore was "from France--so that's close, right?" Michelle Rohe, who spent the social hour chatting with her friend Elaine Havelock Heinz, reached into her closet and came out with the real thing--a classic, timeless navy-blue Chanel dress.