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Nordstrom at South Coast Plaza presents an amazing New York-style fall fashion review in July every year. I’ve not sure how many years I’ve been attending, but I know it’s been at least 10. Four years ago, the store elected to make it a ticketed affair and give the ticket proceeds to a non-profit, with the store underwriting the entire event. Held at The Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point this year, the lucky non-profit was a repeat of last year – the Orange County Museum of Art – and was a sold-out affair with 300 guests. Called the Fall Designer Preview, the affair definitely draws the fashionistas – the perfect group to appreciate designer collections from Milan, Paris and New York. Among the fashionably attired ladies were the OCMA ladies co-chairing the benefit, who included Kay Bright, Christina Ferguson, Moira Kamgar, Susan Krueger, Irene Martino, and Carmela Phillips.

I chatted with Jennifer Wheeler, Nordstrom VP of Designer Apparel, as guests were enjoying hors d’oeuvres and cocktails prior to the show. She said the major trends were lace – both day and evening – a mix of prints, texture, sparkle, and leather, with a nice mix of color, including evergreen and aubergine. “Individual style is about adapting fashion to your lifestyle and personal tastes,” she concluded.

The upbeat show drew raves all-round with labels such as Gucci, Missoni, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Donna Karan, Herve Leger, Akris, Erdem, Stella McCartney, Dolce & Gabbana, and Valentino. Designers making their debut included Azzedine Alaia and Mary Katrantzou, whose eye-catching print dresses were a delight. Guests gathered outside the ballroom to peruse the show’s featured looks on racks and to select one or more of the many delectable desserts orchestrated by the hotel’s pastry chef Brian Sundeen in the alfresco courtyard. The parting gift was a box of Nordstrom’s Habits scrumptious truffles, with the museum’s take an impressive $45,600.

P.S. My favorite look was Valentino’s black and white bow-front dress. Awesome!

Photographs by Robert Rooks