Scene & Heard: Colleagues luncheon honors Nancy Reagan

Special to the Los Angeles Times

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was reunited with old friends on Tuesday when she was guest of honor at the annual spring gathering of the Colleagues, a volunteer group that supports the Children's Institute in its work to help youngsters affected by violence, abuse or neglect.

First, Oscar de la Renta stopped by the pre-lunch VIP reception before escorting Reagan into the ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

"He's my old dear friend," said the former first lady. "He's very special."

Reagan settled in at her table between De la Renta and Emanuele Aliotti Visdomini, vice president of jeweler Vhernier. A steady stream of friends and admirers greeted Reagan, among them honorary chair Betsy Bloomingdale, Colleagues President Patricia Brown and fashion designer James Galanos.

"She's always delightful," said Galanos, the couturier who created Reagan's first inaugural gown.

De la Renta said he first met Reagan during her husband's time as California governor. "What is so extraordinary is that they were a true couple," he said. "They gave a lot to each other, and she was so much a part of her husband's success. No question. Yet he was the star. She never took center stage. He was president, and she was always there behind him."

More than 800 guests paid a minimum $150 for the luncheon, co-sponsored by Vhernier and De la Renta, who showed his fall 2011 collection before presenting the award to Reagan.

A 49-year member of the group, Reagan rose from her table to accept. "Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody," she said. "I'm very appreciative, and I'm happy to be here."

Anne Johnson served as executive chair with co-chairs Jane Ackerman, Topsy Doheny, Jenny Jones, Debbie Lanni, Mary Martin, Mary Milner, Wendy Stark Morrissey, Tawny Sanders, Ginny Sydorick and Chardee Trainer.

Early Earth Day

Party-goers piled into Kiehl's in Santa Monica on April 7 for an early celebration of Earth Day with Michael C. Hall of "Dexter" and Chloë Sevigny of "Big Love" at a benefit for the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global coalition of nearly 200 organizations that work to protect local waterways from pollution.

In honor of the occasion, which falls each year on April 22, Kiehl's USA President Chris Salgardo handed over a check for $100,000 to Liz Crosson of Santa Monica Baykeeper, the alliance's Los Angeles affiliate. Organizers said the check represented 100% of net proceeds from a new limited-edition version of Kiehl's cleansing face mask, labeled for Hall and Sevigny.

"Growing up on Long Island Sound, I saw first-hand the garbage rolling up on the beach," Sevigny said. "Now when I'm in Connecticut, I still go with my mother to pick up trash from the beach."

Hall, a North Carolina native, said he spent time on the beaches too. "It instilled in me an appreciation of the environment," he said. "When Kiehl's approached me about the Waterkeeper Alliance, it was a no-brainer for me to join in."

"We're very fortunate at Kiehl's," Salgardo said. "We've always had a lot of good friends who have been very generous to us."

With DJ Paul Sevigny — Chloë's brother — providing the tunes, guests perused the boutique's skin and hair-care products and mingled.

Among attendees were Sam Trammell of "True Blood," with his wife Missy Yager, Mario Lopez of "Saved by the Bell," Stephanie Pratt and Kristin Cavallari of "The Hills," Tricia Helfer of "Battlestar Galactica," Giuliana Rancic of "Fashion Police," Robert Buckley of "Flirting With Forty," Matthew Rhys of "Brothers & Sisters" and Gilles Marini of "Brothers & Sisters" and Season 8 runner-up on "Dancing With the Stars."

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