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ORANGE COUNTY PEOPLE: ACHIEVEMENTS AND CELEBRATIONS
| ANN CONWAY

More Than a Fashion Statement

September 14, 2000|ANN CONWAY

Move over, Tinseltown.

The women who attend the Candlelight Concert on Dec. 8 will likely be sporting gowns created by the same designers who outfitted celebs at the Grammy Awards: Valentino, Badgley Mischka, Versace, Randolph Duke, Pamela Dennis, Jean Paul Gaultier.

Nordstrom at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa will stage a fashion presentation of designer gowns Sept. 27.

A cocktail party will be the prelude to the showing of about 100 dresses--with price tags ranging from $1,000 to $7,000--to members of the gala committee. The ball gowns may also be viewed by appointment during the two days before the event.

Along with South Coast Repertory's annual black-tie benefit--scheduled for Saturday at the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel--the Candlelight Concert for about 400 people is one of Orange County's most fashion-conscious events.

Talk about being on display. Guests sweep up the Orange County Performing Arts Center's mirror-backed grand staircase for a champagne reception under the Fire Bird sculpture, then take their seats for a concert in Segerstrom Hall. Afterward, they dine onstage under the spotlights that have lit the faces of stars ranging from k.d. lang to Luciano Pavarotti.

"We know what it is to experience that all-eyes-on-you" phenomenon, said Penny Newman, manager of the store's designer salon. "Our ball-gown collection is going to give women some beautiful pieces to choose from."

Evening dress-up trends, as evidenced by the stars who appeared in Sunday's Grammys, include "plunging necklines, lots of skin and bone--but nothing too overt," Newman said. "Fashion is very ladylike now, reflective of the '40s. You're going to see feather accents and a lot of fur trim."

Glitz, all the rage in the '80s, is also making a comeback, she said. "Sequined jackets and bustiers and beaded chiffons--they're all on the scene."

For gala information: (714) 556-2121.

Mingling with a Maestro

Major donors to the Philharmonic Society of Orange County not only got to watch Valery Gergiev conduct the Kirov Orchestra at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Monday, they got to mingle with him at Chinatown restaurant after his performance.

Donors were also treated to a champagne reception during intermission at the concert featuring the works of Wagner ("Overture to Tannhauser"), Rachmaninoff ("Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini"), Prokofiev ("Suite for the Love of Three Oranges") and Shostakovich ("The Ninth Symphony").

Also visiting with donors: famed Russian-born pianist Vladimir Feltsman.

The buzz: the thrill of hearing the 100-piece orchestra in 750-seat Cheng Hall.

"To hear an orchestra of this caliber in an intimate hall is a great treat for the ears," said Don Evarts, vice president of the philharmonic board.

Dean Corey, the philharmonic's executive director, dedicated the concert to representatives of the A. Gary Anderson Foundation. "Their support has been a significant factor of our achieving the excellence in programming that our community has been experiencing over the past few seasons," he said.

Doug Rankin, president of the Barclay, said he had concerns about the Kirov coming to the theater. "When Dean Corey approached me, I asked if the orchestra would fit on the stage and if the sound of the works would be in proportion to the hall," he said. "After hearing it, I now think we could attract younger people to the symphony with this sort of rock 'n' roll aesthetic."

Also on the scene: Fred and Eva Schneider, Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom, Gary and Tricia Babick, Arlene Cheng and Elizabeth and John Stahr.

World Premiere

Theater buffs gathered at the Ferragamo boutique at South Coast Plaza on Friday after the world premiere of Richard Greenberg's "Everett Beekin" at South Coast Repertory (through Oct. 8).

Party-goers dined on an assortment of pasta dishes and jumbo shrimp arrayed around an ice carving of the classic Ferragamo top-handle handbag.

Among guests: Elaine and Martin Weinberg of Newport Beach, the play's honorary producers. Supporters of SCR are invited to make donations of $25,000 or more to help produce works on its Mainstage.

"We've done it a few times--as many others have," Elaine Weinberg said. "We like to give a boost to playwrights whose work we want to encourage. Martin and I especially like to encourage new plays. We love originality--that new way of looking at something."

The play offered up a few jabs at Costa Mesa's mall-centered lifestyle. "The unity bridge," said Nell (actor Nike Doukas) "was erected in 1994 and given its name because, in spanning [Bristol Street, a block from SCR] it unites the forces of commerce, as represented by the mall, with the arts, as represented by the bank."

Observed Elaine Weinberg: "This county has kind of sprung up because of its amazing economic success. I don't see how we could have had the [arts venues] without the bank."

Asian Immersion

Members of the Laguna Art Museum's Bohemian Club support group attended a party in two parts Sunday.

First, guests viewed a collection of Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian art at Warren Imports in Laguna Beach. Then, they dined on Chinese fare at the nearby home of international Oriental art authority Harry J. Lawrence and his wife, Zahide.

"We call ourselves Bohemians because as longtime supporters of the museum, we consider ourselves independent thinkers," party chairwoman Joan Hanson said.

Proceeds from the $100-per-person event will benefit the museum's general fund.

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at ann.conway@latimes.com.

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