Bachelors, Organizers Champing at the Bid

Looking like GQ models on a break from a fashion shoot, 13 local bachelors surrounded Erin Havlena of Dana Point last week and made her day .

Smiling, they shook the hand of the 7-year-old March of Dimes youth ambassador, a spina bifida patient.

The occasion was the kickoff party for the annual March of Dimes Grand Gala Bid for Bachelors--an event-in-a-tent planned for Oct. 19 that is expected to raise $100,000.

Two hundred guests crammed the stylish nooks of the Chanel Boutique at South Coast Plaza to tip tulips of champagne, sample Bistro's 201's designer hors d'oeuvres (one-of-a-kind little bites such as smoked salmon and creme fraiche crowning a homemade potato chip) and stare, then stare again, at the hunks who will go on the block for charity.

Among guests was John Clement--Bid for Bachelors chairman--and Roger Martin, manager of the marble-clad boutique that hawks some of the world's most fashionable clothing.

While the Bid for Bachelors has long been the benefit favorite of Orange County's available set, this year's romp will offer them even more to love, Clement says.

Instead of in a hotel ballroom, where the number of guests can only be a few hundred, this year's Bid will be staged in a 50-foot high tent at the Parker Hannifin Business Complex in Irvine. About 1,000 guests can be accommodated.

And there will be more to do than bid on dream dates to exotic destinations, Clement says.

"We'll have a silent auction, a casino, a big band and a comedian that Magic Island is flying in from San Francisco," says Clement, who once went on the block for the March of Dimes. ("It's scary up there.")

The bachelors are carefully screened by a committee of men and women with an eye for integrity, Clement says. "We want the very best for this worthy cause."

Proceeds will benefit the March of Dimes campaign to prevent birth defects and infant mortality. "Before the event, we take our bachelors on a tour of the neonatal intensive care unit at UCI Medical Center," says Karilyn Merritt, a spokeswoman for the March of Dimes. "We want them to see just how important their contribution is. Some of those little babies can be held in the cup of your hand."

Martin Gets Foxy: Speaking of Roger Martin, the dapper Chanel representative was among the hundreds of guests who crowded a sound stage at 20th Century Fox Studios on Monday night to watch composer Henry Mancini and producer/director Gordon Davidson receive Chanel's Egoiste award for their contribution to the performing arts.

A similar event was recently held in New York. (Why not Orange County? Maybe next year.)

Before the gala, rumors had flown that Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld would attend. But, the couturier who has popularized the ponytail for men was a no-show.

So, guests such as Dina Merrill and Betsy Bloomingdale (who, along with Gov. Pete Wilson, attended the wedding of Ashley Bren--Donald Bren's daughter--in Los Angeles on Saturday) had to be content with watching each other.

Before dinner, the gala featured a showing of Chanel's 1991-92 ready-to-wear and haute couture collections on some of the world's most famous models--Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer, among them.

The look? Glitter chains, vibrant colors and floaty chiffons. Vive la France!

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