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You’d be hard pressed to find a more fashionably dressed group of ladies than those gathered at Court Appointed Special Advocates’ (CASA) “Friends, Fashion and Fun” event at South Coast Plaza. The day started with a champagne reception at Jo Malone, where the store’s Account Executive Jeanina Esparza encouraged guests to try a spritz of the fragrance company’s featured scent for spring – Red Roses. Also popular was another featured scent for spring, Earl Grey and Cucumber, which was launched for a limited time a few years ago and sold out immediately. Brought back by popular demand, it is now part of the Jo Malone permanent collection.

The next stop was a delicious lunch at AnQi By Crustacean, where bare-chested models sold raffle tickets to very willing guests, and dancers from Asher Entertainment revved up the energy with some sexy Dancing with the Stars moves. Event co-chairs Lourdes Nark, Cathy Frandsen and Jeanina Esparza took center stage to welcome everyone, thank their committee members and announce CASA’s upcoming Celebration of Children Black & White Ball, scheduled for May 18th at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort. Frandsen, who is licensee and owner of MaxMara South Coast Plaza, announced that the ball’s goal was $1 million and that CASA supporter Damiani, represented by its Vice President Silvia Damiani, had committed $25,000 to the ball. She then announced that MaxMara would also commit $25,000 to the cause. Frandsen introduced three members of CASA’s executive committee, who she said were responsible for her joining CASA’s mission of helping break the cycle off child abuse through volunteer advocates, who speak up for children lost in the overburdened foster care system. The women she introduced are also CASA advocates and were Wendy Tenebaum, Britt Meyer and Carol Demorest. In closing, Frendsen said to everyone, “These kids would not have a voice without your support.”

A stunning fashion show followed on the restaurant’s glass runway, which ran the length of the restaurant, and featured fashions from MaxMara and the new Barbara Bui boutique. Barbara Bui’s General Manager Liz Tate and MaxMara’s West Coast Vice President Stacey Solomita introduced the show, which showcased a large black and white influence, neutrals and dashes of luscious color. Skirt lengths were mini to knee-length, pants were cropped, leather is still in the game, and prints impacted. A white Barbara Bui sheath with a deep V-neck outlined in a snake embellishment was a knock-out, and a MaxMara coral sheath with a chiffon drape took my breath away.

The opportunity prizes were quite the draw, with a Jo Malone $750 beauty set and private party won by a busy mother excited to be able to pamper herself with a day of beauty, while Tracy Schroeder won the AnQi crab dinner for four. The winner of the Barbara Bui “Moon” hot pink handbag, whose name was not recorded, was delighted, and a very surprised Lourdes Nark won the MaxMara Sportmax metallic blue suede “Dahlia” bag. Smiles abounded!

French Champagne and macaroons awaited guests at the Barbara Bui store for further shopping, and MaxMara’s sweet confections – loved the chocolate mousse!! – with fabulous coffee and tea put the final seal on the day. All three retailers generously offered 15% of the day’s sales to CASA, and AnQi’s COO Elizabeth An announced at lunch that any lunch or dinner through the following week would garner 15% for CASA.

Kudos to CASA’s Chief Development Officer Susan Kirkland for her efforts in the event’s success and to Linda Young’s Elite OC Productions, who was responsible for the concept and planning of the entire event.

Photos: Robert Rooks