The Crowd: Celebrating a visionary

September 26, 2012|By B.W. Cook
  • MILESTONE: Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom with Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom at 45th anniversary dinner for South Coast Plaza.
MILESTONE: Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom with Elizabeth… (Ryan Miller )

It is no simple task to cast a magic spell over a social event.

On Sept. 19 in the garden of Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles, the executive team of Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza welcomed 100 guests for a 45th anniversary celebration dinner. The operative word was "magic."

The plaza's talented Debra Gunn Downing, exquisitely attired in a floor-length, summer, sleeveless satin gown by Lanvin and escorted by beau attorney Charles Kanter, introduced the evening's host, Henry Segerstrom, South Coast Plaza founder and managing partner of one of America's legendary fashion empires.

Segerstrom joined his very chic wife, Elizabeth, and dedicated son Anton Segerstrom and his bright and beautiful bride, Jennifer. The Segerstrom contingent proudly greeted the arriving crush, many of whom had dealt with the journey on the San Diego (405) Freeway from Orange County to be a part of the special occasion.

The night sky enveloped the stately sycamore trees in the hotel garden bringing down the daytime temperature from the triple digit mark to an intoxicating 75 degrees by 8 p.m. A light dew dusted the thick green grass as is the norm in Bel Air's Stone Canyon, even on the hottest of days.


Designers set up one long banquet table seating all 100 guests down the center of the garden lawn. Fifty-foot strands of twinkling white lights hung from the tallest limbs of the craggy sycamores. The sounds of an orchestra of crickets clicked and ticked away, punctuating cocktail conversation as guests moved from an upper terrace where hors d' oeuvres were offered, down to the garden for dinner. O.C.'s Sunny Ravanbach of the Black Iris created a centerpiece of magnificent roses and orchids interspersed with white magnolia flowers from one end of the table to the other.

The anniversary evening was created to coincide with the unveiling of South Coast Plaza's fall 2012 portfolio, which had been shot in California's Big Sur.

The enormous trees of Stone Canyon seemed to be an ideal fit for such a party, and also an opportunity for fashionistas to explore the newly renovated and redecorated hotel, which had been shuttered for two-plus years while undergoing a new look. The legendary hotel remains a romantic hideaway but no longer exudes old world understated class. Its décor now follows the modernistic trend: angular, simplistic and monochromatic. Definitely more youthful, attracting the Hollywood 30-something crowd and those who would like to be in that milieu.

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