Tiffany Guests Are Dazzled by Gala for South Coast Rep


Holly Golightly would have loved it.

It was all there at the Tiffany Ball, the gala that on Saturday night marked the opening of the new Tiffany & Co. at South Coast Plaza: the eyepopping diamonds that the heroine of Truman Capote’s novella “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” ogles on her way home from nights on the town.

The symbolic window displays--on this night, apples and oranges piled high in regal crystal bowls, a nod to the Big Apple landing in the Big Orange.

And of course, the style that is at once exuberant and laid-back, the trademark of Tiffany for 150 years.


“Do you see what I mean?” asks Audrey Hepburn (as Golightly) in the movie version, having waltzed a young man into Tiffany. “How nothing bad could ever happen to you in a place like this?” (On Saturday evening, 30 gun-packing, walkie-talkie-wielding guards were on hand to make sure nothing did.)

One of the first couples on the glittering scene were Renee and Henry Segerstrom, managing partner of C. J. Segerstrom & Sons, owners of South Coast Plaza. “I think we’ll keep this tent and open a disco here,” he said, snapping his fingers to the Wayne Foster orchestra that got things hopping under the tent erected beside Tiffany.

The 560 guests would have approved of the idea. After tipping tulips of Domaine Chandon in the outer reaches of the mall, they swept through Tiffany, gushed over room upon room of jewels and trinkets, then swept into the tent, where they boogied before, during and apres courses of seafood, beef tenderloin and chocolate truffle solitaire.

Being inside that tent felt like being inside of one of Tiffany’s satin-lined boxes. Gigantic swags of ecru, silver and champagne fabric covered the pitched ceiling. Crystal chandeliers gleamed like bigger-than-life tiaras. And towering floral centerpieces, dusted with clouds of Tiffany perfume, adorned each table.

“I’m terribly excited about tonight,” said Renee Segerstrom, honorary chairwoman of the $300-per-person gala that raised $200,000 for South Coast Repertory Theatre (celebrating its 25th season at the party). “What could be more beautiful than a ball of jewels?”

Indeed. Renee--resplendent in Yves Saint-Laurent couture (hot pink bodice, black, tier-ruffled skirt and saffron belt and shoes)--wore some of her favorites: a ring with an emerald the size of a gumdrop and earrings to match.

Besides the Segerstroms--who were joined at their table by Thomas Kendrick, president of the Performing Arts Center, and his wife, Judy--guests included William Chaney, Tiffany chairman, and Paloma Picasso, designer for Tiffany, in sleek, emerald-green Chanel and a necklace of her own creation: a chiseled chunk of pink kunzite suspended on a string of plump baroque pearls.


Moments to remember:

* The ecstatic expressions on the faces of Tony award-winning SCR directors Martin Benson and David Emmes when each opened his gift from Tiffany--18-karat gold Tesoro (Spanish for treasure) watches.

* The fashionably late entrance of socialite Kathryn Thompson, who knocked ‘em dead in a scarab-blue bolero jacket encrusted with sequins in the shape of the Tiffany Diamond set in a brooch.

* And a wistful James Roosevelt recalling the Tiffany jewels his mother, Eleanor, once wore.

Other moments:

* William Chaney bussing Renee Segerstrom on her porcelain cheek after they had sailed across the faux marble floor to “In the Mood.”

* Paloma Picasso ducking out at 10 p.m. to hop a jet back to Milan.

* The announcement that Willa Dean and William Lyon had made a challenge grant to SCR of $250,000.

* The applause for the Segerstrom tribe that shook the tent when it was announced that 25 years ago, when SCR was born, “the land beneath our feet was abundant with lima beans.”

* The sight of Segerstrom family matriarch, Ruth, 80-ish, sweeping into the storybook affair and looking more elegant and glamorous than ever.

Keepsakes? Enamel Battersea boxes done up in a deep shade of Tiffany-blue and the SCR logo.

Faces in the crowd: Jeanette and Harold Segerstrom, co-managing partner of C. J. Segerstrom & Sons; former SCR gala chairwomen Louise Ewing, Pat Allen, Dot Clock, Jean Wenke, Barbara Bowie, Arden Flamson, Judy Threshie and Lydia Himes; George and Judie Argyros (who went slinky in black with crisscross rhinestone straps); Gail and Peter Ochs; Gary and Joanne Hunt (quietly chic in bead-laced black by Enzo Russo); Jim and Nancy Baldwin.

Also, Jim and Barbara Glabman; Rogue and Judy Hemley; Roger and Janice Johnson (loving the dancing, especially when it came time to shake the apple-red and orange maracas); Tom and Elizabeth Tierney; Carl and Margaret Karcher; Jack and Suzy Peltason; David and Jeanne Tappan; Charlie and Katie Wheeler; Art and Mardy Svendsen; Linda Irvine Gaede; Cliff Faulkner; Olivia (in a Bob Mackie) and Andy Johnson (carrying an antique walking stick that, top removed, became a dueling sword).

Also, Jerry and Sandra Beigel; Deeann Baldwin (in a black-and-gold Carolina Herrera); Timothy and Susan Strader (in a pouf of ostrich feathers); Steve and Hedda Marosi; Jerry Patch; Martha McFarland; Eugene and Ruth Ann Moriarty; Anton and Karen Segerstrom; Toren Segerstrom; Peggy and Ted Segerstrom, and Catherine and Delane Thyen.