Friends Are in Fashion at Couture Gala

Times Staff Writer

If you've swept the floors for couturier Bill Blass in your apprentice days, you've got super contact power, and Nancy Vreeland can be pleasingly aggressive. Now the wife of Thomas Vreeland (son of Diana Vreeland, former Vogue editor), she was a Blass employee in New York.

With that resume, she had the credentials ("Blass is my good friend") to call and ask for a benefit favor that developed, with the help of Helen O'Hagen of New York Saks, into a sensationally fun evening of fashion last weekend--not only with Blass, but the elegant Caroline (pronounced Caro leena ) Herrera and the irrepressible Carolyne (pronounced Carolyn) Roehm (pronounced Rome)--the ultimate in major-domo-ing of New York fashiondom. The result: the Monday evening SFA/USA Show on stage at the Mark Taper Forum, preceded by cocktails on the plaza with the City Hall as a vista. Then the promenade, on the Music Center's new red carpet (it's cheaper to buy than rent, they say) over to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for cuisine and wine and dancing to the Stepp Sisters.

Such an evening brings out the poshest (the word, Tom Wachtell reminded, derives from Port Out, Starboard Home on the old Pacific Orient Line--the best accommodations), and the men in the crowd Monday evening seemed pretty proud of their fine-feathered ladies. Dorie Pinola was on the arm of banker husband Joseph in white Rubin Panis. Entertainment mogul Marvin Davis escorted Barbara in a stunning Scaasi. Former Atty. Gen. William French Smith and Jean were a twosome, she in "my favorite dress"--a white Stavropoulos chiffon (which she also has in black). Restaurateur Henry Yost escorted wife Cindi, she in a seafoam Mary McFadden accented with lavender and green jade. If there was a gown without a haute couture label, where was it? Kathryn Arpad in a satin Jaqueline de Ribes, Rita Barrett in Chanel, Clarice Ellis in Oscar de la Renta, Mary Lou Hicks in red/white Galanos, Maria Mallace in Scaasi. Naturally.

But the pizazz came from Vreeland/Herrera/Roehm, as they frolicked for photographers during cocktails in their short, short skirts. The knee was really the thing. In fact, during the show, William French Smith whispered, watching the models walk: "Look how those legs work--it's taken thousands of years for the human leg to develop, and it works!"

Jean Smith, who's just gone on the board of Claremont University, was just as witty: "There seems to be a shortage of fabric this year."

However, the audience applauded most appreciatively, and no one was happier than Mary Jones later at the dinner when it was announced she'd won the $3,000 Bill Blass certificate. Mrs. Mel Dorfman won the Herrera certificate, Judy Borden the Roehm certificate. In the scheme of fund raising (the party will net $100,000 hopefully), patrons were entitled to chances on the major gifts Vreeland and her committee assembled. Thus, Mrs. Happy Franklin was the richer with a crocodile bag; Lili Fini Zanuck won the 12.5-carat Harry Winston diamond necklace set in platinum, and Patricia Fredericks Dolson took the glorious Russian golden sable jacket, from Revillon, designed by Herrera.

Winners, too, were Norma and David McIntyre. When Robert Abell conducted the auction, they got the Paris couture trip with round-trip fare on Pan Am, five nights at the Hotel Plaza Athenee and invitations to the winter showings for Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Louis Scherrer and Ungaro.

The crowd was the sort that is busy most nights of the week: Stephen and Kitty Moses (he was just back from the Bohemian Grove) were to be honored Wednesday night as Couple of the Year by the Big Sisters; Otis and Dody Booth, joining Clark and Joni Smith, were immersed in details for the dinner Saturday evening honoring Harvard's departing headmaster Christopher Berrisford; Roger and Joanne Kozberg had numerous plans for politics and the Fraternity of Friends agenda; Dan Frost, president of the Music Center, and Mia Frost, and Esther and Tom Wachtell pretty much had the Music Center goal of $12.3 million on their minds; Joann and Julian Ganz were back from New York; Wendy Goldberg, sitting at a heavy Hollywood table with husband Leonard, was excited about her new beauty endeavor, "Active Life," in partnership with Chris Everett.

Saks officials received plaudits from Robert Smith, chairman, Music Center Unified Fund 1987. He presented Martin Fischer, vice president and general manager of the Beverly Hills store, with a limited-edition sculptured plaque created and cast by artist Robert Graham in acknowledgement of Saks becoming a Music Center benefactor.

Also stars of the night: Arpad and Kathryn Domyan, who attended with their son, Bryan. The evening before, they had hosted the SAKS/USA patrons at a glorious party with pink peonies designed by Jef in to-the-ceiling arrangements. More than 160 partied under the tent on the l'Orangerie parking lot before dining until almost midnight in the restaurant.

Even after two in a row, the Monday-night crowd danced late on a floor surrounded by trees and pink peonies planned by florist Milo Bixby. Among the twinkletoes: Sally and Joe Keon, Joan and John Hotchkis, Jayne and Henry Berger, Robin and Jerry Parsky, with hardly time for the sips of chilled powerful Framboise that followed the Alexander Valley Vineyards and Simi wines donated by the Harry Wetzels and the Jack Hennessys.

It was obvious to everyone why Carolina Herrera stays nicely svelte. She tasted not a bit of her vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream topped with fresh berries. But she was raving about lunch that afternoon with Saks friends at The Ivy: "Wonderful."

TRIO: The National Conference of Christians and Jews will honor Lester B. Korn, Robert M. McIntyre and Bonita Granville Wrather at its 39th annual Brotherhood Ball next Thursday in the Ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire. James Stewart will do the presentations and Harvey Korman will be master of ceremonies. John M. Heidt is general dinner chairman; vice chairmen are H. Frederick Christie, Michael L. Tenzer and Hon. William A. Wilson.

JUNE DEBS: Mrs. Warren Jefferson Arnett will head the June Debutante Ball of the Pasadena Guild of Childrens Hospital on June 20 at the Beverly Wilshire. She'll be assisted by Mrs. Lawrence Harry Forsch. More on the committee are Mrs. Louis W. Jones, Mrs. Franklin H. Simmons, Mrs. Robert B. Stewart, Mrs. B. Durward Howes III, Mrs. William G. Williams, Mrs. James W. Lewis, Mrs. William E. Taverner, Mrs. Alfred C. Duckett Jr., Mrs. Bradford Hall and Mrs. Boyd Higgins.

IN THE ARMY: The Army Ball Saturday at the Beverly Hilton will be a "Salute to the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution." The affair is sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Assn. of the U.S. Army. Frank Lynch, vice chairman of Northrop, is general chairman. Expected as guests are the Hon. James R. Ambrose, undersecretary of the Army, and Lt. Gen. James E. Moore Jr., commanding general of the 6th U.S. Army. Michael Paige's Orchestra is booked for dancing.

ANNUAL MEETINGS: Everywhere about town the guards are changing, with annual meetings and installations in progress. The Music Center's Education Guild met at the Hollywood Bowl Cottage and Norma Stuart continues as president for a third term. The Symphonians lunched this week in The Founders at the Pavilion and Lynn Dorland passed the gavel to Jane Huntoon. At the Music Center Speakers Bureau annual meeting, Nancy Weakley became the new chair, taking over from Diane Morton.

AFFAIRS GALORE: Les Dames of Los Angeles meet Edith P. Mayo, curator, First Ladies' Hall, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, at brunch Wednesday in Beverly Hills. Mrs. Barry Taper will be hostess. . . . The Bob Hopes are providing their residence in North Hollywood for the Saint Joseph Medical Center Guild recognition and installation tea Wednesday. . . . The Bel Age is the setting for the annual meeting of the Fraternity of Friends of the Music Center on June 14. . . . Friends of Banning Park have a Centennial Celebration picnic in the park at Banning Residence Museum next Thursday at 10 a.m. . . . California Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig will be in the spotlight Wednesday at a luncheon at the Biltmore hosted by Res Publica Board of Governors and Claremont McKenna College. . . . Public radio station KUSC has elaborate plans for "A Prairie Home Social" fund-raiser June 13, commemorating the final live broadcast of the show, "A Prairie Home Companion." Garrison Keillor, the show's creator, and about 4,000 fans will assemble at Loyola Marymount University for a picnic. . . . Bethune Ballet Theatredanse's education and performance program for handicapped children will benefit from the celebrity fashion show, "Silke Shasse," Saturday afternoon at Le Bouvier's Beverly Hills Saloon.

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