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ANN CONWAY

Armanied to the Teeth

July 11, 1991|ANN CONWAY

And you thought the Orange County Performing Arts Center's fifth anniversary blast was September's only game in town.

Think again. Word's out that Giorgio Armani--whose elegant and easy rags are worn by Michelle Pfeiffer, Kim Basinger, Billy Crystal, Alec Baldwin and the like--is planning a super-gala for Sept. 8 to christen his new store at South Coast Plaza.

Plans are in the works to invite about 1,000 locals (plus a slew of celebs ferried to Costa Mesa from Los Angeles) to Emporio Armani to ogle the clothes and then step into the mall to dine on fare in an Italian town square.

Who's catering? Armani, of course. The 8,000 square-foot style emporium will offer designer rags at competitive prices and its famous Emporio Express, an in-house bistro concept that was first introduced in London.

The big news: the bash will be free to party-goers. No force-guests-to-support-the-charity for Armani. Armani will foot the party bill and make a hefty donation to a local charity. The buzz is that the beneficiary will be a cause for children.

During the evening, glamour models will sweep through the crowd, parading Armani's lifestyle-wear and accessories with little fuss (whispered elegance is the Armani trademark).

The new store marks Emporio Armani's entry into the California market, so of course the bash will be a biggie. Armani's other two U.S. boutiques are in New York and Hawaii.

Mark those calendars.

Festival of Arts kickoff: Nostalgia was the name of the Partyspeak game on Tuesday at the kickoff for the Festival of Arts at Hotel Laguna.

During cocktails on the terrace, festival spokesman Sally Reeve talked about the late Bette Davis--how she was the only movie star to ever participate in the Pageant of the Masters.

"Bette lived in Laguna Beach in the mid-50s," Reeve said. "So she volunteered for us. She started out by by painting numbers on the back of our (viewing) seats. And then, she agreed to pose for us in the 'Tragic Muse' painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds."

Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of the Pageant of the Masters (and the voice of Tony the Tiger on the Frosted Flakes commercials) said his stint with the pageant is the best thing he has ever done. "And I've been in show business for 50 years," he said. "We've become family. It's a warm and wonderful experience--working with all of those volunteers."

Looking back at his career, Ravenscroft recalled his radio days. "I organized the Sportsmen--the quartet that used to drive Jack Benny crazy," he said. "We also worked on the Judy Canova, Rudy Vallee and Charlie McCarthy shows--even did some Looney Tunes with Mel Blanc. Those were the days; I'm primarily a singer."

It was fitting that the Good Old Days was the hot topic. After all, Hotel Laguna is the spot where Bogart and Bacall used to play. And Errol Flynn. (The hotel has named suites in their honor.)

Actress Rose Marie attended the party on the arm of Jerome Shaw, director for 19 years of the television game show "Hollywood Squares." Shaw recalled the days when he worked with Noel Coward and other theater greats. "Those were the days," he said, chuckling.

Rose Marie has become a fixture at the pageant. "I always come if I'm not working," she said. "It's one of my favorite things to do."

Among guests: Marine Maj. Gen. Royal Moore with wife, Pat (Moore ensures that aircraft don't fly over the pageant while it's in progress. "It's our way of being good citizens," he said); Marine Maj. Gen. Howard Blot, with wife, Marie; Mike Nason with Vikki Vargas, and David Young, president of the pageant's board of directors.

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