Party-Goers Can See Through You, Scaasi

Arnold Scaasi, how could you?

How could you parade see-through ball gowns on models so divinely thin that about 450 women began to wring their hands over the double-chocolate mousse cake they'd just downed?

How could you showcase cloud after cloud of lace and chiffon and column after column of silk and brocade, making every spectator in the room ache to be able to say, "Me and my Scaasi's ." (You've seen the advertising campaign where thoroughbred society-types are seen standing--gala-dressed to the hilt--next to the couturier saying, "Me and my Scaasi!") This event made you wish you'd brought your Gold Card and a pickup truck.

It was easy, the designer said Tuesday at the fashion extravaganza staged at Le Meridien Hotel by Neiman Marcus and Angelitos de Oro, a support group of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Orange County.

"I love to design beautiful, flattering clothes. If a dress doesn't flatter, why on earth would you buy it?"

Why, indeed. The designer--whose gala-wear is sported by the likes of First Lady Barbara Bush (remember her electric-blue inaugural ball gown? Scaasi did it), Elizabeth Taylor, Ivana Trump and Barbra Streisand--says he works feverishly to design silhouettes that thrill.

Take his new zebra-print collection. If a woman could buy just one of his gowns, it should come from this new series, he says.

"The animal prints are not only exciting, they're classic. They look great forever."

Members of Angelitos de Oro almost dropped their coffee cups when the show began. First up: cave-like darkness, and then-- voila!-- blinding spotlights focused on toothpick mannequins in zebra-wear hanging on faux zebras that looked like the real thing.

But no, like everything else in the Scaasi (that's Isaacs, his real name, spelled backward) fall collection, the animals were for effect.

You get effect, for example, when you sweep into a ballroom in one of Scaasi's chiffon numbers that sport sequin-pasties in strategic places. (An effect many of the women said they loved but would never wear. "My husband would kill me!" said one giggling society matron.)

You also get effect when you wear a see-through lace bodice with nothing but you beneath.

Effect also comes your way when you appear in a ball gown of a shimmering metallic shade (a trend. Scaasi does one strapless number, with matching cape, in a kaleidoscope of metallic hues).

Before the show which followed a luncheon of pike mousse and veal medallion with tripolini pasta--benefit chairwoman Ginny Smallwood thanked the crowd for attending.

"You're helping the children of Orange County," said Smallwood, ultra-feminine looking in an ice-pink picture hat embellished with silk roses. To say the least. A check for a whopping $100,000 was presented to the organization by Angelitos de Oro.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters provides adult leadership to boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 16 who come from single-parent homes.

Also on the committee were honorary chairwoman Maria Crutcher, Angelitos president Janet Smith, Trish O'Donnell, Arden Flamson, Marcia Cashion, Phyllis Maillie, Ann Benjamin, Barbara Carr, Harriet Cox, Martha Crowner, Jerri Dwan, Jane King, Sheri Mead, Marilyn Nielsen, Cecelia Nott, Catherine Thyen and Janet Curci Walsh.

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