‘New Gatsby Era’ Gets Off to a Grand Start at Mansion

In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.

--"The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald

It was a little early for stars at “The New Gatsby Era” brunch Sunday at the $25-million mansion of Michael DeAngelo, owner of ClothesTime Inc., and his wife, Pat. And the champagne was laced with papaya juice.

But, oh, the blue gardens, the men and girls and the whisperings: “I bet we could move in and they wouldn’t even know it,” said Milton Iskra in hushed, reverential tones as he drank in the 35,000 square feet of snow-white lath-and-plaster nestled in a forest of palms in the Tustin Hills.


Not to mention the women who strolled the manicured grounds in Daisy-wear: frothy day dresses, smart hats, strings of pearls and gardenia corsages.

More than 300 guests, at $100 each, attended the City of Hope benefit, which is sure to go down in social annals as Orange County’s “sleeper of the year, 1988.” The event was sponsored by Professions and Finance Associates of Orange County, the City of Hope support group. Proceeds were estimated at $10,000.

The party--Gatsbyesque down to its “cheerful snobbery"--began at 10 a.m. with the tulips of bubbly and ended at 3 p.m. with cups of cappuccino, plain or chocolate.

What happened in between could have filled a chapter of one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books. Dub it The Tour ( everybody took one): first stop, the DeAngelo courtyard, where an acre of swimming pools (one for aquatic volleyball only), koi ponds and Jacuzzis (one hidden under a cave of boulders, another near a huge fire pit) and an endless patio awaited awe-struck guests.


Next, a peek at the weight room (complete with personal trainer and curvy brunette puffing on an exercise bike). Then it was, down, down, down a spiral staircase for a gander at two racquetball courts. Then, it was up and on to the discotheque, where $300,000 worth of sound and laser equipment awaited. Then, on to the wine cellar, the projection room, the conversation pit, the 2,700-square-foot master suite, the five guest rooms (each with its own Jacuzzi), the four children’s rooms, the game room, the tennis courts and the beauty parlor.

“This is my dream house,” said DeAngelo, 40, who started his business--upscale women’s clothing at downscale prices--"during the early ‘70s at swap meets.”

“There were basically four of us: my dad, my brother and my partner, John Ortega, who started out selling various merchandise. After a couple of years, we found that women’s apparel was the hottest thing happening.”

And now--with 340 outlets in 17 states; a 22-year marriage to Pat, his high school sweetheart; four children; two grandchildren, and a sprawling mansion--DeAngelo feels like his life is the hottest thing happening. “Though, I’m really so busy I only get to spend weekends enjoying the place,” he said.

When guests were finished touring, they sampled exotic comestibles arrayed near DeAngelo’s poolside kitchen: sweet corn pudding, duck hash with poached eggs and jalapeno hollandaise, grilled leg of lamb with mango salsa, veal sausage with white truffles, and unleavened pizzas piled with a choice of capers, caviar, lox, pesto, artichokes or cactus.

Cooking up a storm, gratis, were chefs Alan Greeley of the Golden Truffle in Costa Mesa, Louis Manginelli of Zeppa in Newport Beach, and David Wilhelm, director of product development for El Torito Inc. Kit Lietzow of Laguna Beach, interior designer for the DeAngelos, was chairman. Lucy Looney Rau was co-chair.

Committee members included Lance Blue, Peter Bohn, Ben Frankel, Carol Jones, Tom Hruden, Milton Iskra, Ivan Katz, Adele Lucas, Carol Rippe, Patricia Steamer and Vince Volz. Dick Torre is president of Professions and Finance Associates of Orange County.