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The Crowd: Putting on a 'first-class fashion show'

October 15, 2010|By B.W. Cook
  • THE ORGANIZERS: Chairwoman Suzan Paek with Melinda Serra, Caroline Jones and Ann Smyth.
THE ORGANIZERS: Chairwoman Suzan Paek with Melinda Serra,… (Carla Rhea, Daily…)

The Harvesters did it again. The 18th annual fashion show and luncheon unfolded in flawless style Oct. 7 at The Island Hotel, Newport Beach. The charitable organization founded nearly two decades ago by two young women, Jill Johnson-Tucker and Jennifer Van Bergh, has grown in stature, becoming one of the most significant sources of funding in Orange County for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Along its path the group now spans multiple generations of fashionable Newport-Mesa women who come together to share in their incredible good fortune, providing major dollars raised to feed far less-privileged local citizens.

This season's extravaganza was chaired in the capable hands of Suzan Paek. Her equally capable co-chairs were Melinda Serra and Ann Smyth. In addition to the active participation of founders Johnson-Tucker and Van Bergh, the much admired Jennifer Segerstrom served on the advisory committee, planning and coordinating the massive event.

Arguably, the Harvesters fashion show is the most glamorous runway event in Newport Beach. Year after year, comments are the same: Guests in the crowd whisper that the women in attendance are more beautiful and more fashionable than the models on stage. It's a show within a show.

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Van Bergh welcomed the crowd and toned down the sizzle level, reminding the elegant attendees that the working poor in Orange County are growing significantly in ranks given the state of the economy. The food kitchens are serving as many as 30% more people in need on a daily basis, and the Second Harvest Food Bank, which collects surplus food from all corners of the region including grocery stores, restaurants and more, is working overtime to supply the demand. Van Bergh introduced Paek, later joined by Serra and Smyth on the runway, as the audience of some 400 guests applauded their effort prior to the start of the beat of the fashion show music and the dimming of the lights in the fashion tent erected on the lawn adjacent to The Island Hotel.

As they have done for 18 seasons, South Coast Plaza produced what was certainly a runway show fit for New York, Paris or Milan. Designers and exhibitors included Chanel, Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, Saks Fifth Avenue, Chloe, Versace and Miu Miu. Also on the catwalk were Fendi, Dior, Pucci, Balenciaga, Oscar de la Renta, Roberto Cavalli and Prada.

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