Fine feathers spoke volumes at the annual "Ladies Who Lunch….and Read" event held May 8 at Three Seventy Common for the first time.
The restaurant across the street from the Laguna Beach Library opened specially for the Friends of the Library luncheon, where participants paraded their chapeaus and touted books they had recently read.
"Everybody had a wonderful time and they are still talking about it," said Friends President Martha Lydick. "The food was magnificent, the staff was friendly and efficient and there was parking.
"We will be back next year."
Lydick won second prize for the best hat, a feathered fascinator that reflected the beaded and embroidered peacock on her sheer jacket.
Fascinators, which perch on the side or front of one's head were popularized by guests at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Librarian Jenny Gasset won first prize for the fascinator which she made.
Gasset recommended reading "Hunchback of Neiman Marcus," written by Sonya Sones.
"She is a poet writing for young adults when I first heard of her," Gasset said. "I was excited to see an adult book by her in which the poems build the story."
Festival of Arts board member Anita Mangels gave a favorable review to "Coco Chanel" by Lisa Chaney. The book looks like Chanel's iconic white, quilted bag, Mangels said.
"She broke the rules and we could learn a lot from her," Mangels said.
Realtor and arts patron Bobbi Cox recommended "South of Broad," by Pat Conroy, the author's first book in years.
"I didn't want to finish the book because I didn't want to leave the characters," Cox said.
Mary Fitzgerald read "Killing Lincoln" by Bill O'Reilly with her book club.
"Some members had to bring it in a brown paper bag," she said
Fitzgerald also read "Caleb's Crossing" by Geraldine Brooks that School Board President Betsy Jenkins recommended.
"The book takes place in the early 1600s in the brand new colony of Massachusetts, where the natives end up attending Harvard," Jenkins said.
Madeleine Visca was touched by Donna Shore's "Florence Nightingale" and how God called her to the service of others.
And of course, the luncheon would have been incomplete without some reference to "50 Shades of Grey," read by many, but mentioned only by Laguna Books' Lisa Childers.
Among the noteworthy hats worn to the luncheon: Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson's pearl-flower-trimmed ivory straw, divine with the ivory silk jacket she had bought at the Benefit Boutique.
Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger wore a mauve straw bonnet.
Straw hats were popular.
Playhouse Executive Director Karen Wood complemented her red hair with a navy blue straw hat she purchased six years ago for a family wedding. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kris Thalman's was lilac, Community Foundation Chief Executive Darrcy Loveland's was white with black trim and Jenkins' was navy blue, all three from Duet on Forest Avenue.
Sandy Hovanesian, who organized the luncheon and brought along nine members of the Debussy Chapter of the Performing Arts Center Guilds, wore a fascinator, also from Duet.
Debussy member Millie Robinson's black-feathered hat was the one that won her first prize at the luncheon two years ago.
Past Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. President Louise Buckley wore a hat with seniority.
"It is 18 years old, but I have only worn it twice," Buckley said.
Pauline Walpin, also a past seniors' president, wore a plaid fedora.
Besides fashion and book reviews, the event included opportunity prizes donated by Tootsies, the Lumberyard Flower Stand, Nancy Pink, the Laguna Playhouse, Lydick and Cucina Alessa.
High-end shopping at cut-rate prices raised more than $22,000 at the Sixth annual Boutique Benefit that benefited three nonprofits.
Hundreds of shoppers took advantage of bargain-basement prices to buy pricey designer and brand-name clothing, and accessories from the closets of some of Laguna's best dressed women, the local stores which they patronize and a recently-closed boutique that donated its entire stock of unsold merchandise.
"It was a really good year," said Evonne Kane, who organized the annual benefit, held May 5 at the Laguna Presbyterian Church. "We had an amazing selection of clothes. Everyone walked out with a find and the good feeling having helped others."
A two-hour presale event was held May 4 at Nirvana Grill. The $40 admission price included wine and hors d'oeuvres donated by six restaurants and first choice of the donated merchandise.
"It just gets better with every year," Kane said.
This first benefit was held in 2007.
Beneficiaries this year included the Laguna Relief and Resource Center, Friendship Shelter, Impact Giving and Women for Women International, the latter two nonprofits added this year.
The center in Laguna Canyon runs a food pantry used by 1,000 local families each month.
Friendship Shelter, which opens its doors on South Coast Highway to folks determined to get back into an addiction-free lifestyle, also supervises the alternate sleeping site for the local homeless population in Laguna Canyon.
Part of the funds raised by the sale will go toward dental and medical attention for users of this shelter.
Impact Giving is an Orange County-based women's giving collective that impacts social change through grants to service organizations. In its three years, Impact Giving has awarded a total of $345,000 to 20 nonprofits, 11 locally and nine internationally.
A little further from home, Women for Women International works in the Congo to help women there to rebuild lives ravaged by the violence that still rages nine years after a devastating civil war ended in 2003. The organization provides programs that include direct financial aid, rights awareness classes, job-skills training and emotional support.
Unsold items from the Boutique Benefit were donated to the Assistance League of Laguna Beach, to be sold in its thrift shop at 526 Glenneyre St.
Boutique Benefit accepts donations of quality clothing throughout the year. For more information or to make arrangements, call Kane at (949) 468-6831.
OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (949) 302-1469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.