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RSVP / THE SOCIAL CITY

Galanos Gowns Dress Up Exhibit Opening

April 06, 1997|MARY LOU LOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

There are 71 creations in the retrospective exhibition "Galanos" celebrating the 40-year career of American couturier James Galanos at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And surely there were as many more on the women who walked the purple carpet for the museum's Costume Council's opening and the gala dinner for 400 at Neiman Marcus.

Galanos admirers came from Houston, Dallas, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Palm Beach, Fla.

Anyone who owned a Galanos wore it, making for a notable night in Los Angeles social / fashion history. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan arrived early in a long black Galanos for a gallery tour with the designer, and she stood in the receiving line with Galanos and museum director / vice president Graham W. J. Beal.

The exhibition includes three gowns Galanos created for Reagan: one for her husband's California gubernatorial inauguration in 1967, the draped and beaded chiffon gown worn when the president of France honored the Reagans at Versailles in 1982, and the silver-and-crystal-bead-encrusted gown she wore for Reagan's presidential inaugural in 1985.

Committee member Kathy Offenhauser wore an elegant Galanos: "Jimmy told me he had wanted my dress in the exhibition, but couldn't find it," she said.

Betsy Bloomingdale, Helen Lambros, Judi Tallarico, Frances Brody, Jayne Berger, Ginny Sydorick and Marilyn Lewis all wore Galanos. As did Iris Cantor, who arrived in a brown silk gown 23 years old. Hannah Carter estimated her long silk dress was "at least" 20 years old. Galanos' sister, Dorothy Chrambanis of Trenton, N.J., recalled that her brother was sketching women's fashions at age 7. She chose a short black lace, one of many gifts from her brother.

Galanos' current muse, Natalie Tirrell, was in the spotlight. Three of his former models came from Palm Beach for the event--Maggy Scherer (with her polo-playing husband, Allan), Betsy Kaiser and Jennifer Garrigues--and all extolled Galanos.

Said the majestic Kaiser, in white hammered silk, "Ninety percent of my clothes are Galanos. If I can't get into them, I send them to museums." Where? "The Victoria and Albert, the Metropolitan. Los Angeles hasn't asked me yet, but I will give to them."

Designers Gustave Tassell, Nolan Miller and Michael Novarese paid homage to the show and its curator, Sandra Rosenbaum. The dinner--planned by Jane Halgren and Costume Council chairwoman Juli Miller, and hosted by Neiman's John Martens--spread across NM's second floor. Said Martens, "Galanos is the country's foremost couturier--a man of great elegance and style."

The Sunday evening before, Dona and Dwight Kendall entertained more than 50 at a black-tie dinner in their Bel-Air home honoring Galanos and his friends, including Prince Vittorio Alliata di Montereale and his wife, Princess Dialta, and the Costume Council board.

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Lladro: Brothers Juan, Jose and Vicente Lladro made a huge social splash on Rodeo Drive for the opening of their West Coast Lladro flagship store. More than 100 friends and relatives jetted from Valencia, Spain, to join California celebrities. Rodeo Drive was closed off; costumed Valencian dancers flew in to sing and dance. And more than 1,000 porcelain figurines filled three levels of the staircased and domed showroom designed by Juan Vicente Lladro and Ki Suh Park.

Later, limos whisked 400 to the Regent Beverly Wilshire for a dinner honoring the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation Children's Center. The wives of Juan, Jose and Vicente--Lolo, Carmen and Amparo--were joined by 25 other family members and Spain's Consul General Victor Iban~ez-Martin and his wife, Rosa, of Los Angeles, as well as Lauren Bacall, Tippi Hedren and Tony Goldwyn. Valencia's minister of the economy, Jose L. Olivas, and his wife, Mercedes, were in the crowd. So were Jose Luis Perez, who oversees Lladro's U.S. operations, and his wife, Christina, of New York, and Valencia's Secretary of State Fernando Villalonga.

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April Ides: The USC School of Public Administration's annual dinner has segued in recent years from March into April. What a night it will be. The "XV Annual Ides of March Dinner" on April 23 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel honors former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) and is under the chairmanship of the always-inventive Michael D. Eisner, chairman of the Walt Disney Co. Invitations arrive soon.

Floral Fantasia: Expect nothing less than sensational for the Las Floristas Floral Headdress Ball on April 25 at the Beverly Hilton. The 59th affair with competing headdresses--each a floral masterpiece of hues, shapes and textures--will be highlighted by the Mannequin Parade. Tova and Ernest Borgnine will emcee the whimsy.

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