The Crowd: Fashionable Women of Chapman descend on Newport

Elegant Big Canyon Country Club, Newport Beach, opened its formidable French Tudor doors to welcome the Fashionable Women of Chapman University and their handsome escorts for a 40th anniversary dinner celebration. The upbeat summer soiree was chaired by the triad of social power on the coast, Leslie Cancellieri, Sally Crockett and Eve Kornyei. When it comes to creating a successful event, count on those three ladies to pull out the stops.

The crowd arrived as the sun set over the verdant golf course. Neiman Marcus models paraded the expansive exterior stone terrace and into the club bar as performing arts students from Chapman, including Kira Rodin and Adam Borecki, entertained.

The uber fashionable Mary Dell Barkouras, in from the desert with dapper husband Tom Johnston, wowed the crowd in a floor-length ensemble. It featured a dinner skirt of layered fluttering orange silk organza. Barkouras, a past president of The Fashionable Women, joined fellow past presidents Joan Riach-Gayner, Donna Bunce, Adrienne Brennan and Leslie Cancellieri — all major Chapman University supporters — and all among the best dressed and most engaging women on the Orange Coast.

The Big Canyon Maitre D's ushered the crowd into dinner as tiny bells tingled and a final round of cocktails were served. Blonde dynamo Kathy Hamilton, current president of the Chapman ladies and wife of O.C. financial guru Noel Hamilton, welcomed guests in the handsome Lakeside Room at the club.

Round tables dressed in ruby red silk linens in honor of the 40th anniversary, provided by donor Young Song Martin of Wildflower Linens were set beneath the dining room's crystal chandeliers. Chapman donors, including Bette and Wylie Aitken, Patricia and Dick Allen, Zee Allred and Drago Gligic, Tricia and Mark Bailey, Donna Bianci and Daniel Avidan, and Adrienne Brennan and R.J. Brandes celebrated summer in grand style for a treasured local university with an international reputation.

The evening's focus was found in the impressive growth of Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Dean Bob Bassett joined his wife, Janell Shearer Bassett, also a dean at Dodge College along with key staff members Michele Bautista, Sheri Nazaroff, Delite Travis and Joanne Jurczyk mixing with the philanthropic crowd. Dean Bob Bassett was generous in his praise of the Fashionable Women who have made a discernible difference over 40 years of Chapman support.

Dining on porcini-crusted filet mignon and northern halibut and enjoying the talented song stylings of the Baker Boys were Sandy and Pila Chiles, Michele and Frank DiBella, Eileen and Bill Hanley, Maralou and Jerry Harrington, Barbara and Mark Lyster, Whitney and Jerry Mandel, Irene and Bill Mathews, Twyla and Chuck Martin, Grace and Pat Thelen, and Mona Nesseth and George Razahegyi. Also in the crowd were Harriet and Sandy Sandhu, Ronna and Bill Shipman, Anne and Dan Manassero, Lisa Hallaian, Donna Calvert, Laurie Rodnick and the ever gracious Mary Roosevelt.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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