Celebrated American author Henry James famously wrote: “Summer Afternoon — the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
He was right: under a clear blue sky and with a shimmering cobalt blue lake as the backdrop, the 50th annual luncheon and fashion show to benefit the League to Save Lake Tahoe occurred on August 3, a beautiful “summer afternoon.”
Presented by Saks Fifth Avenue on the shoreline estate of Incline Village patron Kern Schumacher, legacy fashion house Oscar de la Renta offered up a preview of its bold Pre-spring 2020 collection.
It’s a brilliant 59-piece portfolio of dazzling new work by Oscar Co-Creative Directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, now in their third year at the creative helm.
In from New York, an ebullient Saks Fifth Avenue President Marc Metrick said, “With this picturesque event, we have the perfect trifecta: fashion, philanthropy and the environment.”
Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen added, “Both Laura and Fernando have a fresh perspective on color, femininity … they’re creating a new language with their design. If Oscar were alive today, he would applaud this collection.”
With Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face” playing, the show began with an elegant color palette of deep navy, ivory and ecru gowns, jackets and wide-leg pants before heating up with shocking pink chiffon, bright poppy crepe, and gold lamé strapless gowns and cocktail dresses, some with thigh-high slits and many with embroidered botanicals. A crescendo of applause greeted the unveiling of a magnificent white Chantilly lace bridal ballgown.
The guiding force behind this beautiful summer afternoon was a distinguished committee: Barbara Brown, Riccardo Benavides, Heidi Cary, Bob Damaschino, Krista Giovara, Jessica Hickingbotham and Hillary Hilken Marble. This year’s show was dedicated to the memory of committee member Edith Andrews Tobin.
The buzz around the luncheon was whether or not Barbara Brown would continue as de facto committee chair after 13 years. “Well, I can’t do this forever but not to worry: I’m going to stay for another one or two shows. Besides, I’ve got my eye on a couple of individuals who I want to groom as new committee members.” Whew! Let’s not break up the band cuz it’s a swelluva party.
Speaking of swells, the guest list of 620 included Saks Fifth Avenue San Francisco General Manager and Vice President Anna Chung, Oscar de la Renta Executive Vice President Eliza Bolen and son Thomas, Tahoe League President David Brandenburger, Mary Beth and David Shimmon, Carolyn Chang, Karen Kubin, Ann Girard with home-from-college daughters Virginia and Renée, Jean Wiser, Farah Makras and son Tyler attending his first fashion show, Bulgari’s Monica Savini, Rich and Catherine Boyle, Carol Jeske, Linda Coates, Jennifer Walske, Darcie Collins and Jeffery Alan Marks. Missing but not forgotten was beloved Oscar executive-at-large, Boaz Mazor.
Hats and sunglasses were de rigeur. For the women it was colorful short and sleeveless dresses, including a few leading ladies spotted unintentionally wearing the same chic Oscar dress (oh mon dieu). For the men it was casual attire including several in lightweight jackets with matching shorts, such as Porter Felton in a striking navy-blue Swiss polka dot suit. With the luncheon situated on the sandy beach, those in the know knew to wear elegant sandals (no heels, darling) and for the men, preppy deck shoes and designer moccasins ruled (no socks, boys).
This magical event raised more than $1.1 million, a record high. But hold your applause: close to $20 million has been generated over the past 50 years to support the league’s environmental efforts to protect the lake. Now that deserves a victory lap down the runway. — By Jon Finck