Here's to 45 years of high fashion

South Coast Plaza celebrated its 45th anniversary Wednesday during a private dinner in Bel-Air.

Henry Segerstrom, managing partner of C.J. Segerstrom & Sons, the owner of the shopping center, gathered a few dozen close family, friends and industry experts to celebrate South Coast Plaza's achievement and influence at Hotel Bel-Air.

The dinner and celebration featured a slide show of the shopping center's Fall Portfolio in the upscale hotel's outdoor court where nature, live music and guests mingled in harmony.

Segerstrom said South Coast Plaza had a turning point in the mid-1970s when luxury brands, including Halston, opened, leading him to see to it himself that the center be elevated toward becoming the luxurious retail powerhouse that it is today.

When the center first opened, local reporters declared the center a risky venture, said Debra Gunn Downing, South Coast Plaza executive director of marketing.

But today, the center is a household name, home to more than 250 of the most sought-after designers in the fashion world and award-winning restaurants, she said.

"The Segerstrom family has done such a tremendous job of growing South Coast Plaza and I'm very proud to be apart of the organization and I'm passionate about South Coast Plaza and everything that the family has achieved here," Gunn Downing said.

South Coast Plaza, which attracts visitors from around the world, is expected to generate $1.5 billion in sales this year, Gunn Downing said. New boutiques are also expected to open, including Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC Schaffhausen, and Barbara Bui, according to a news release issued by Downing's office.

South Coast Plaza opened in 1967 with 70 stores and boutiques on what was once the Segerstrom family's farm land.

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