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Column: The Crowd: South Coast Plaza presents elaborate dinner launching Spring Portfolio

Local fashion bloggers and style influencers attended the 2018 Spring Portfolio dinner for South Coast Plaza.
(Courtesy of South Coast Plaza)

The fashion-conscious crowd on the California Riviera is surely fully aware of this season’s design trend — florals.

And it’s not just for women. Men’s fashion trends are following suit, at least for the adventurous male choosing to don a floral print silk dinner jacket. Of course, gents have always favored casual shirts designed in florals, especially the Hawaiian Reyn Spooner variety that have long been a staple of the handsome casual Newport dude.

Recently, the fashion royalty heading up the marketing efforts of South Coast Plaza, produced a spectacular dinner event to launch its 2018 Spring Portfolio magazine.

Debra Gunn Downing, executive director of marketing at SCP, and staff called on Sunny Ravanbach of White Lilac — arguably one of the most creative floral designers and party planners on the West Coast — to work her magic.


Fashionistas are greeted at the South Coast Plaza Spring 2018 Portfolio dinner in the Garden Terrace
Attendees at the Spring Portfolio event greet one another in the Garden Terrace.
(Courtesy of South Coast Plaza )

Ravanbach, who has been the design force behind many of the O.C.’s most extraordinary and memorable social events, turned to inspiration from the floral-printed textiles of the season by Versace and Dolce & Gabbana.

Ravanbach chose to create the dinner in an elegant black-on-black subtly striped tent erected on the Garden Terrace of SCP.

Accents of shimmering gold and sparkling crystals softened the black tent. The “wow” factor came in the form of Ravanbach’s floral design. No other word less impactful than “breathtaking” will suffice to describe the setting. Pictures simply cannot do the floral display justice.


The focal point of design was termed “a mountain range” of blooms that bisected the tent in the fashion of a cross. Laden with lush blooms of every spring variety, the mountain rose several feet tall and ran the entire length of the tent in both directions of the cross. The aroma alone was intoxicating and the visual was mind-altering.

Glass topped rectangular dining tables were positioned within the four sections of the cross, and they too were each covered in a mountain of spring flowers from edge to edge down the center of each table. Crystal candelabras sporting tall white flickering tapers rose from the florals. Every detail orchestrated with perfection.

Cartier Pages in their handsome signature red and black uniforms greeted the arriving crush of fashion media coming from Los Angeles and Orange County.

A jazz quartet delivered ambient music with selections from the Great American Songbook as dinner was served in exquisite style, catered by the Kitchen, headquartered in Pasadena.

Samira Radmehr and Audriana Lorraine. (Courtesy of South Coast Plaza)
Samira Radmehr and Audriana Lorraine attend the Spring Portfolio event.
(Courtesy of South Coast Plaza )

A largely millennial assemblage of very fashion-conscience women frantically clicking selfies and sharing the latest “dish,” sipped Champagne cocktails. The O.C.’s vodka baron Carl Nolet Jr. of Ketel One was on hand for the Portfolio dinner with his lovely wife, Janet.

Gunn Downing, escorted by beau Charles Kantor, welcomed the crowd as they took their places for the seated dinner that followed a lavish cocktail reception.

Gunn Downing introduced the 2018 Spring Fashion Portfolio showcasing the merchandise offered by the retail giant’s storied luxury brands including designer couture, ready-to-wear, accessories, fine jewelry and time pieces.


Spring season fashion from such design houses as Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermes, Dior, Harry Winston, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels graced the spring portfolio pages.

In the dinner crowd were O.C. VIPs Lisa and Richard Merage, Susan and Mike Etchandy, Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom, Lee Healy, Sun Lee from Chanel, Karen Steward from Saint Laurent, Kay Warriner from Fendi and Liz Tate from Bruno Cuchinelli. O.C. fashion bloggers attending included Samira Radmehr, Audriana Lorraine, Missy Ulmer and Cassydy Berliner.

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.