A bit of Paris was imported to the Anaheim Marriott on Thursday and Friday when the guilds for the Children's Hospital of Orange County staged their 30th anniversary fashion show.
"Vive la France" was the theme of this year's benefit, which has become so successful that the guilds hold two fashion show luncheons and a Friday night gala to accommodate the nearly 3,000 people who attend. The shows' total proceeds were expected to exceed $200,000 to benefit CHOC.
We'll Always Have Paris
Fashion show chairwoman Sue Krause, who fell in love with France on a tour several years ago, had promised her guests "a total French experience." Indeed, the benefit had all the elements of a Paris fashion show, including a small Eiffel Tower set up in the ballroom that twinkled with white lights.
The show, produced this year by I. Magnin (which outbid other stores for the privilege), was held on a stage resembling a scaled-down Arc de Triomphe. Models with what one wag described as "Stairmaster legs" sported all of the latest menswear looks, Western wear, white gowns, suits and separates with bold graphics. Creations by Ungaro, Oscar de la Renta, Christian Lacroix, Bill Blass and Karl Lagerfeld were shown at the luncheons; the black-tie show featured the Karl Lagerfeld Collection direct from the runways of Paris.
"This is the largest audience you have for a show in Orange County," said Noddie Weltner, director of special events for the southern region of I. Magnin who produced all three fashion shows.
As an added French touch, fashion show director Mary Richerson had models walk down the runway with two French poodles, while dancers did the cancan between collections.
Guests put on a fashion show of their own, with many showing off bright spring suits and dresses. Krause wore a flowing hand-painted silk dress with a large orchid on her shoulder to Thursday's show.
"I'm an artist, and this looks like a painting," she said. "Of course, I bought it at I. Magnin."
Sonia Ike, president of the Cinderella Guild of Newport Beach, wore a fetching navy hat and navy and white plaid wool suit.
"This affair is one of the more fashionable in the county," she said.
For le dejeuner , guests dined on assorted fruits and berries with raspberry puree, followed by Cornish game hens with bread stuffing and orange glaze and tomatoes stuffed with spaghetti squash.
Dessert, for those who could manage it, was a crepe filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. Dinner guests had an equally impressive menu that included French onion soup, filet mignon with champagne sauce, breast of pheasant and timbale of spinach with mushrooms.
For Children's Sake
The annual fashion shows have raised more than $2 million since the first was held in 1963.
"One of the reasons we're so successful is we have 15 guilds with 1,800 members," Krause said. Each of those members was encouraged to draw others from the community to attend either the $50-per-person luncheon or the $100-per-person dinner.
"This event is important not just for financial reasons, but because it spreads the good word about the hospital," said Charles Hester, chairman of the CHOC board, who attended the gala with his wife, Nora.
Proceeds will benefit the hospital's outpatient clinic, which served 65,000 patients last year.
Guests who attended one or more of the shows included: CHOC patients Gracie Beal, 3, and Davey Johnson, 7, Donald and Marilyn Bailey, Dr. Greg Buchert, Leo and Ruth Cook, Maria Crutcher, Bonnie Cummins, Joy Frommer, Mary Hendrickson, Jan Holmes, Roger and Janice Johnson, Thomas Penn Jones, Paul Lechlinski, Dave and Anne Neish, Dr. Harriet Opfell, David Paulson, Frances Stawicki, Dottie Stillwell, Kathryn Thompson and husband Gus Owen, Carolyn Tobin and Helen Wardner.