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Social Circuits

Dining by Design

November 11, 2001|Patt Diroll

There was partying all around, but the tables themselves were the stars of the Dining by Design gala that concluded the three-day showcase of fantasy table-top designs sponsored by the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and Elle Decor magazine.

More than 500 turned out for Monday's event at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar, where torches and African drummers greeted guests. On the center stage, dancers balanced trays of champagne flutes on their heads as a prelude to a performance by Clifton Oliver and Jewl Anguay of "The Lion King" cast, and Simone, Patrick Cassidy and Kelli Fournier of "Aida."

Hutton Wilkinson, Matthew White, Tom Schumacher and Margaret Russell were gala co-chairs.

Among the tables was one designed by Wilkinson, installed in an authentic Jaipur pavilion from the collection of his mentor, the late Tony Duquette. White's "dining room in a box"--fashioned from paper, including the chandelier--weighed 10 pounds. Drawing the most oohs and aahs were Kerry Joyce's pink seashell grotto; the funky wedding party created by Rachel Ashwell; and the "spaceship" contrived by Patricia Field.

"This is what I love about L.A.," noted fashion designer Peter Cohen as he surveyed the scene. "In New York, there's such a consensus on what is 'taste.' Here almost anything goes." David Sheppard, executive director of DIFFA, concurred. "Dining by Design is staged in seven cities annually: New York, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Kansas City and Houston. Each city is unique," he said. "But it's definitely more dramatic in L.A."

This year's L.A. benefit raised $350,000.

Celtic Chorale

The lilting strains of "Annie Laurie" and "Danny Boy" greeted the more than 300 guests arriving at the Los Angeles Master Chorale's benefit gala.

For the past 14 years, the black-tie bash has saluted a different country. This year, ball co-chairwomen Elayne Griffin Techentin and Carol Stickels Juhas chose a Celtic theme for their Emerald Ball in tribute to the guest of honor, Peter Mullin, whose Irish moxie has kept the resident companies of the Music Center smiling for the last decade.

Mullin sported his kilt in the MacDonald tartan for the bash, prompting chorale board chairman Ted McAniff's aside, "I've know Peter a long time and served on a lot of boards with him, but I've never seen his knobby knees before!"

The event, held at the California Club on Nov. 3, netted $150,000.

It marked the chorale's 38th season and the debut of its new music director, Grant Gershon, who, like Mullin, is an alumnus of Alhambra High School.

In keeping with the Irish theme, florist Jacob Maarse entwined smilax around tall silver columns that held a cascade of flowers, including jade roses, Bells of Ireland and Irish moss. The Celtic instruments of Irish Heartbeat supplied the Hibernian music.

Spotted in the crowd: Maude and Dick Ferry, Tricia MacLaren and Phil Swan, Terry Knowles and Marshall Rutter, Anne and Harrison Price, Andrea and John Van de Kamp, Claudia and Mark Foster, Dottie and Paul Salamunovich.

Library Dinner

There was no shortage of table talk at the L.A. Library's fete Sunday at the California Club honoring the authors and hosts of the 52 dinners to be held the following evening in private homes all over Los Angeles to raise money for the library.

Former White House manners maven Letitia Baldrige held forth on properly attacking the entree, a steaming chicken pot pie. April Smith shared her formula for writing thrillers while raising two kids. "Rent a little office space for peace and quiet," she advised. And George Plimpton explained the tiny green rosette worn in his lapel: "People think it's a blob of spinach, but it's a French artistic honor, which means I might get a free ride with a Paris cabdriver if he's read Camus."

Monday's dinners realized more than $350,000 for the library's programs. A challenge grant of $200,000 has been offered by Eli Broad for other donors to come up with another $450,000, which could bring the fund-raising event's proceeds to $1 million.

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