“I wish I had the mineral rights to this night,” Gary Pudney quipped, surveying the bejeweled and bedecked crowd at Nolan Miller’s fashion show at the Four Seasons Friday night.
No wonder. Between Barbara Davis’ sapphires, Candy Spelling’s rubies and the gigantic diamond ring on the hand of Miller’s mother-in-law, Matilda Stream, it was hard to take one’s eyes off the crowd and turn to fashions on the runway.
Not even glitz-immune viewers of Miller’s fashions on “Dynasty” could have believed the glamour of this turnout for a mere fashion show. Almost any of the couple of hundred guests could have gone directly from the hotel parking lot to presentation at the Court of St. James’s or a major international ball.
“Nolan told me to dress up,” said Mary Bradley Jones, in a Scaasi red gown and what she said were her “only diamonds.”
It was easy to get an inferior-jewelry complex in this crowd.
“I love it,” complained Suzanne Pleshette, covering up a very pretty diamond necklace with her hand. “The photographers get me with Eva (Gabor) and Barbara. And what am I wearing?”
Harriet and Armand Deutsch stood in the midst of the paparazzi- crammed reception, chatting with Erlenne and Norman Sprague. They were all great friends of Miller’s mother-in-law, the recently widowed Louisiana doyenne, who herself was wearing a wide-skirted Miller design.
“But this is an Oscar,” said the elegant Erlenne Sprague. (That, of course, translates as “an Oscar de la Renta.” When one can afford designer gowns, one is permitted such familiarity.)
Barbara Davis had a specially-designed Nolan Miller, a sapphire blue ball gown, with a necessarily low-scooping neck, since her diamond-and-sapphire necklace needs a considerable amount of space. (It was a gift earlier this year from her husband, Marvin, celebrating 37 years of marriage.)
Candy Spelling said “my rubies” had been a surprise from her producer-husband, Aaron, about a year ago. She had spent the day in far-from-glamorous surroundings, meeting with landscapers at the Spellings massive, new Holmby Hills mansion. The house, which has drawn national attention, will be much more private when the couple and their two children move in a year from now, since she has ordered “30-, 40- and 50-feet trees.”
Author Danielle Steel hadn’t brought any of her real jewels down from San Francisco. The massive diamond-like rings on both hands, she confided, were “about $145 worth of fakes.” But the bracelets and necklace and earrings were all real, but borrowed for the evening from Van Cleef & Arpels. Peeking out from beneath one of the heavy bracelets was a woven “friendship bracelet,” the kind the kids tie on each other’s wrists. Her husband, John Traina, had tied it on her, and similar ones on their kids, and she found out that for good luck she has to wear it until it falls off.
“This is Hollywood,” Shirlee Fonda announced to Douglas Cramer and William Morris agent Ames Cushing, pointing out the jewels and gowns. “I wore a suit,” she said, but added that it was an Ungaro.
Joan Collins wore a strapless white Nolan Miller. Her author-sister, Jackie, was in a beaded jacket and black slacks, posing for photographers with Richard Cohen and his date, Angie Dickinson. (Cohen’s on-again, off-again romance with Linda Evans was, at the moment of the party, off again, so they were at separate tables.)
Joan Collins made the second-to-last dramatic entrance. “Oh my gosh, it means Liz has to sit in the car for 10 more minutes so she can be last,” a professional party watcher said. No, La Taylor was not on the guest list, but as far as arrivals go, First Daughter Maureen Reagan’s must have been the most dramatic. She had a four-motorcycle, one Highway Patrol-car lead-in, along with a good contingent of Secret Service agents. That’s about what a candidate in the presidential primary season rates.
Finally, it was time to sit down to dinner. Jaclyn Smith was with her agent, Bill Haber, Donna Mills with daytime soaps maven John Conboy. Felisa Vanoff (dramatic and classic in a fabulous Geoffrey Beene black jumpsuit) and her husband, Nick, chatted with Pudney and his date, Joanna Carson (in wonderful diamonds and emeralds).
Barbara Davis went off to the ladies room, waving a one-dollar bill that she said she had “borrowed from Aaron.” (It’s easy to see how producer Spelling stays so thin, since he barely sat down during dinner.)
It was the by-now-standard veal chop, then Nolan Miller took the stage. He told about growing up: “I had a terrible longing for the glamour and the bright lights of Hollywood,” he said. He explained that when he came, the movie studios were closing their doors. He got a job in a flower shop, and if Spelling hadn’t come along and offered him a job designing for TV, “I might have been David Jones,” he added with a nod to his close friend, the society florist.
Miller told about sessions with Spelling when “Charlie’s Angels” was being done. Spelling would question the glamorous style Miller wanted to use in outfitting the detectives. “What does it matter if Jaclyn Smith has a little sable jacket?” Miller said he would ask the producer.
As the guests finished dessert, the photographers were crammed into the back of the room, beyond the runway. More than 100 of Miller’s creations were then paraded past--dramatic fur-trimmed hats, fantasy-like negligees, suits that brought comments from “Dynasty” producer Doug Cramer of “That’s very Alexis” or “That’s very Krystle.”
The show ended. Miller stood taking the applause with his models, two white baby grand pianos, a la 1940s MGM musicals, providing a backdrop.
He held his wife Sandra’s hand. He took hugs and kisses from his friends.
And, to quote Miller himself, it was a long way from a small town in Louisiana.