The Crowd: 30th annual Harvesters fashion show raises $1.6 million to feed O.C.'s hungry
The invitation called for an 11:30 a.m. fashion show to be presented in the grand foyer of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa. The production would mark the 30th anniversary runway fashion presentation that has been the hallmark gathering for the Harvesters in support of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.
Several hundred best dressed women and a contingent of trend-setting men turned out for a preshow morning champagne reception hosted by the world-class Baccarat, purveyors of the French art de vivre showing off its elegant and artistic tableware, crystal and décor as the crowd toasted the 30th anniversary event sampling pourings of the JCB Collection N°21 Crémant and N°69 Sparkling Rose. It was the ideal start to another midweek morning on the Orange Coast.
For the record:
10:23 a.m. Nov. 14, 2022In an earlier version, the name of the food bank in Orange County that benefits from the Harvesters’ event was incorrect.
The entourage glided from the bubbly breakfast on the mezzanine level of Segerstrom Concert Hall down to lobby level, where designers created an original seating plan of curvilinear plexiglass chairs arranged in swirling snake format. The seating wound through the expanse of the limestone floored contemporary lobby with its soaring architectural ceiling, white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass. The fashion show and its models would parade the aisles created by the winding pattern of the chair placement, a brilliant idea. Everyone had a front-row seat.
To share that this fashion show would only happen here in Orange County is neither hype nor hyperbole. It is fact. Every person attending was beyond dressed to impress. Most of the women were wearing exquisite clothing. Indeed, the crowd itself was the show, to some degree. Today this level of glamour would not be on display in Los Angeles, New York or even Paris. Possibly Dallas, but nowhere else.
Without question, even given the high style of the attendees, the star of the show was Oscar de la Renta’s pre-spring and spring 2023 collection. In true Paris runway style, show producers used the floating grand staircase in the lobby for the entry descent of magnificent models arriving from the rafters in a breathtaking collection of fashion as art, taking the women from day to evening, social to bridal and beyond.
The collection carries a theme of the glory of nature, floral embroidery, silver and gold leaves, sparkling accents relating to the abundance of spring awakening in all life forms. The colors of the season, ice pink to pale celadon to cerulean baby blue, are executed in luxurious fabric on ultra-mini-length skirts to ballgowns. An exceptional blue gown, off the shoulder and flowing, is fit for Cinderella. The bridal entry brought gasps from the audience.
In an artsy trance, the show came to its conclusion, and the guests were directed outside to the Argyros Plaza for luncheon al fresco. Long rectangular “picnic” tables seated groups of donors in festive repast. The setting was charming, upbeat and relaxed.
The entire day was chaired with style by Gail Haft. She was supported by a wide cross section of community including donors Michelle Merage, Lilly and Paul Merage, the Comrie family, Jacquie and Michael Casey, Casey Lesher, the Croul family, the James and Gladys Slavik family, Erica and Jerry Fink, and Laura and Tim Vanderhook, among many others.
Making the success a reality included the contribution of the planning committee. Among the dedicated workers were Susan Etchandy, Ashley Fella, Nathalie Hymel, Cindi Morales, Jennifer Segerstrom and Ann Smyth. Major sponsors were City National Bank, Baccarat, Casey Lesher and South Coast Plaza.
Founded in 1992, the Harvesters were created from the passion of Jill Johnson Tucker and Jennifer Van Bergh with the purpose of funding shortfall needs for Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. The original fashion show fundraiser was a working effort among some 10 friends that expanded to 50 women who showed up and raised $65,000 for Second Harvest when the goal was $5,000.
Partnering with South Coast Plaza in 1995 and continuing annually to the present day, more than $14.5 million has been raised to feed the food insecure in one of the nation’s most prosperous regions. What does that suggest, given the need across America?
The Harvesters proudly report that the 30th Fashion Show and Luncheon raised $1.6 million. A triumph close to three decades of building on a dream that began with a goal of raising $5,000. The need remains great as the new decade begins. The reality of the situation is hard to comprehend. It is very real none the less.
In the next edition of the Crowd scheduled for Nov. 20, will include a follow-up story on designer George Esquival, special guest and donor at the Harvesters Table who once relied on the food of Second Harvest as a boy. Esquival came to give back. His story is one of survival, beating the odds and ultimately, inspiration. It’s a must read.
To learn more about the Second Harvest Food Bank go to feedoc.org/harvesters.
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