NEW YEAR’S ILLUSIONS : A Dream List of Orange County Status Symbols

Come on, play the status symbol game. Everybody’s doing it.

An Orange County list used to be a snap to dream up: bay-front property, a new European luxury car, a custom yacht, membership in the Balboa Bay Club, being on a first-name basis with the Duke. . . .

But no more. With the advent of a Performing Arts Center, world-class shopping and billionaires and yuppies thriving in its midst, Orange County is hard put to come up with a list shorter than Gary Hart’s New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s mine:


Lunch with Jeff Parker, author of “Laguna Heat.”

A $500,000 donation to the Performing Arts Center.

The Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry auction catalogue.

Being on a first-name basis with architect Renzo Piano.


Donald Bren’s unlisted telephone number.

A chat with David Stein about his friendship with Gary Hart and his relationship with Mary Kerry Kennedy.

Membership in the Center Room at the Performing Arts Center.

The New York Times on your doorstep. Daily.

A home large enough to jog in.

Knowing who’s on the A list.

A valet parking pass to South Coast Plaza.

Membership at Marbella Country Club in San Juan Capistrano.


A key to the fourth floor of the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

A mention in Women’s Wear Daily.

Paying cash at John Dominisrestaurant in Newport Beach (and trashing the stub).

The birth of your child on videotape.

A his-and-hers face lift.

An ocean-view plot at Pacific View Memorial Park.

An invitation to Casa Pacifica in San Clemente.

Your own fur vault.


An invitation to the Portola Ride.

A painting by Diebenkorn.

Communicating with domestic help in their native language.

Just saying, “ non.

Freeze Frames: This week in Sun Valley--Irvine Co. owner Don Bren having dinner with former Sen. John Tunney at Chez Michelle; actress Brooke Shields not knowing Buzz Aldrin was once an astronaut; open house at the home of developer Harry Rinker and his wife, Diane; developer Tony Moiso enjoying his new home with his wife, Melinda, and Judie and George Argyros swooshing the slopes.

In Snowmass: Susan and Timothy Strader holidaying with family and hobnobbing with developer Don Koll and his wife, Dorothy.

Taking Manhattan: Darcy Hemley, daughter of Newport Harbor Art Museum board President Rogue Hemley and his wife, Judy, will make her New York society debut tonight at the “Debutante Assembly and New Year’s Ball” at the Plaza Hotel.

Joining Hemley when she takes a bow with Sophie DuPont (daughter of the Henry DuPonts of Delaware) and Stacy Rukeyser (daughter of New York economist Louis Rukeyser) will be Stephanie Warner Zaepfel, daughter of Mrs. R. Marshall Jarvie of Corona del Mar.

The affair, the oldest and foremost of its kind in New York, will begin with a gala reception in the turn-of-the-century hotel’s Terrace Gallery. Afterward, the 30 debs and their guests adjourn to the Grand Ballroom for a five-course meal that will include lobster soup, beef bourguignon , and a Plaza Snowball: apricot-stuffed ice cream rolled in coconut and served up with hot fudge sauce.

“It’s a way to bring young people together from all over the world,” said ball chairwoman Mrs. Robert StithWilliams Jr. of New York. “It builds bridges.” (Williams is a good friend of Barbara Anderson of Newport Beach, a member of the ball committee.)

It was Williams’ mother, the late Mrs. Thomas Webster Edgar, who founded the deb assembly in 1921, marking the first time debs were presented to U.S. society en masse .

Along with her husband, Mrs. Williams heads the world-famous Ball des Rosenkavaliers in the Palais Schwarzenberg in Vienna. There, girls from the United States are presented to European society. “I’m hoping the Orange County girls will go there, too,” she said. The social whirl will conclude on Sunday with brunch at the Plaza.

Hold the Date: Maureen Reagan will address the Newport Harbor Republican Women on Feb. 12 at the Balboa Bay Club. The event, open to the public, will include a social hour and lunch.