No One Wore a Garden-Variety Gown


The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino is different from most institutions. It boasts expansive lawns, arbors, gardens galore--hundreds of charming locations for interesting parties. Last year's summer ball was bathed in golden light as guests danced around the tombs of Arabella and Henry Huntington. This year's ball, on the last night of summer with a big moon and twinkly stars, focused on the Australian gardens.

Groves of eucalyptus formed a stately circle. Across the span of green lawn, chairwoman Diane Cooke concocted white silk pavilions for dinner and dancing. Eucalyptus leaves dripped from topiaries designed by Silver Birches. Images by Lighting made magic with three lighting booms casting pink and magenta images of more eucalyptus.

The gowns were lovely--and mostly black. Cooke, wife of Disney executive John Cooke, wore Austrian crystals on slim black crepe. Lois Erburu, wife of Robert Erburu, chairman of the Huntington, was in a glorious gold Mary McFadden with a zippered quilted jacket. New trustee Ruth Shannon, escorted by husband Ed, danced in Valentino black lace.

The 1903 koi-filled lily ponds, where turtles sun themselves, will be relined with ball proceeds. Robert Skotheim and his wife, Nadine, took time out to show off the gardens and pools at twilight; the turtles had gone to bed.

Long dresses were de rigueur. Susie Barker wore Michael Novarese; Heather Haga was in Rose Taft Alencon lace; Juli Miller, Armani black; Barbara Kirmse of San Francisco, Victor Costa white and black; Robin Steiner, sleek Paul Petropoulos. Diane Dixon, wearing silver gray glitter, sipped champagne with her husband,, Patrick, a Los Angeles deputy district attorney. Margot Milias, back from Scotland with husband Mitch, was in pink lace and chiffon; the elegant Noorna Eversole, in black Italian lace; Alyce Williamson wore an Oscar de la Renta lace redingote and gown with long pearls; Emily Hancock was a beauty in pants with a sleeveless champagne bodice with soutache by Carmen Marc Valvo and Judith Farrar, handsome in Galanos white and black lace.

Among the many young couples in the crowd were Phil and Tricia Swan, Kate and Blair Westlake, John and Wendy Siciliano, Jon and Shannon Williamson, Nancy Baxter and Boyd Smith, and Marion and Riley Rogers.

Prominent, too, were the popular Nancy and Charlie Munger (of Warren Buffet fame). Said Ed Renwick, "Charlie Munger is one of the few people around who is as smart as he thinks he is."

New Huntington Overseers president Merle Banta flew in from Chicago and attended with his wife, June.


Glamour: She deserved accolades. Sally Sirkin Lewis' interior design clients have included Elton John and Barbra Streisand. She founded her furniture / textile company, J. Robert Scott, 25 years ago. So, Jack Lowrance and Maggie Murray chaired the salute to Lewis in the Lawrence Halprin-designed park at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, where 350 guests toured the Lewis "25 Years of Design" exhibition. Funds raised at the Sept. 20 event will establish a new scholarship fund for FIDM interior design students.


Philharmonic Gala: Champagne and a silent auction in the Grand Hall will precede the Los Angeles Philharmonic's black-tie opening fall season Oct. 8. A dinner and dancing on the Music Center Plaza will follow the concert starring American diva Kathleen Battle, joined by Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen.


"Hear, Hear": The mood was jubilant Sept. 18 when Anna Murdoch announced that the Board of Regents of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles had not only completed its $25-million capital campaign, but surpassed the target with an additional $1.1 million. Lifting champagne glasses in self-congratulation were Regent vice chairman J. Kristoffer Popovich, and Regents Marion Anderson, Marcia Wilson Hobbs, Charles Bakalay III, Bonnie McClure, Alyce Williamson, Mary Marshall and Arletta Tronstein. Anna and Rupert Murdoch hosted the fifth annual fall social on their breathtaking terrace in Beverly Hills.


Kudos: Walfred J. Fassler, retiring chairman of Chevron USA Products Co., will be honored by EconomicsAmerica of California Saturday in Bel-Air . . . Keith Renkin and David Anderson were saluted at the 100 Club black-tie dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.


Landmark: After a $10-million renovation, the late Bullocks Wilshire will be dedicated as the home of Southwestern University School of Law's Law Library at a gala dinner Friday. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will speak. KNBC news anchor Paul Moyer will emcee. Mayor Richard Riordan and former Mayor Tom Bradley, the latter a member of the class of 1956, are honorary co-chairmen.

The building with its Bauhaus and Art Deco style is Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument No. 56. Southwestern has restored the architectural splendor and the chandeliers, murals and clocks.


Upcoming: The 20th Pacific Asia Museum "Festival of the Autumn Moon," chaired by Dolores Kroop, will be held Saturday at the Regal Biltmore . . . . Honorary chairwoman Linda Hamilton and chairwomen Christina MacGregor, Rebecca Carlson and Dianette Strange head the Dolphin Ball on Saturday at the Malibu estate of Elaine and Aron Schifman to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation . . . . The Exhibitionists Council of the Orange County Museum of Art and Cartier present "Feast on Art" on Saturday. It's a show on living environments . . . . St. Anne's Foundation has scheduled "Casino Royale" and dinner and dancing for Saturday at the Regency Club.

Elsewhere on the Social Circuit

The Harvard-Radcliffe Club of Southern California celebrated the 100th birthday of Amelia Earhart with a champagne luncheon at the Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library.

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