Colleagues Honor Nancy Reagan


The Colleagues Honor Nancy Reagan at an Oscar de la Renta Fashion Show

The opportunity to honor a beloved former First Lady doesn’t come around often. Nor are there many fashion shows as magnif
icently opulent as the one Oscar de la Renta staged for the occasion. 

So at this top event of 2011 – the annual spring luncheon and fashion show to benefit The Colleagues – an outpouring of affection greeted Nancy Reagan, as she entered the Beverly Wilshire ballroom on de la Renta’s arm.

James Galanos and Mrs. Reagan exchanged warm greetings beside her table, recalling how the California couturier designed her one-shouldered ball gown for the 1981 Inaugural, when her husband, Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. 

Among the 800 smartly-dressed guests were The Colleagues; The C.H.I.P.S (Colleague Helpers in Philanthropic Service); Les Amies or friends of the Children’s Institute; and others. Some were honorary chair Betsy Bloomingdale, The Colleagues president Patricia Brown, executive luncheon chair Anne Johnson and co-chairs Jane Ackerman, Topsy Doheny, Jenny Jones, Debbie Lanni, Mary Martin, Mary Milner, Wendy Stark Morrissey, Tawny Sanders, Ginny Sydorick and Chardee Trainer.

In my interview with de la Renta prior to the luncheon, (one of my favorite parts of this annual affair) the elegant designer talked of Nancy and Ronald Reagan with great fondness.

“What is so extraordinary is that they were a true couple,” he said. “They gave a lot to each other. Nancy Reagan was so much a part of her husband’s success. No question. Yet he was the star. She never took center stage. He was president, but she was always there behind him.”

Discussing style, de la Renta said, “I was invited to many, many state dinners at the White House and Nancy Reagan always represented her country with so much dignity and so much style. To me, style is so much more than how you dress, but what you bring to your life and what you bring to other people’s lives.”

Much as de la Renta admired the former First Lady, she clearly held the fashion designer in high esteem as well. Before the luncheon began, Mrs. Reagan told me, “Oscar is my old dear friend. He’s very special.” And upon accepting her award, she kept her speech brief. “Thank you so much; Thank you, everybody,” she said. “I’m very appreciative, and I’m happy to be here.”

The Colleagues support the Children’s Institute, which helps children affected by violence, abuse, neglect or other trauma. To raise funds throughout the year, the Colleagues operate a Thrift Shop in Santa Monica. Oscar de la Renta and the high-fashion jewelry company Vhernier co-sponsored the luncheon.
Click here to read my original LA Times story about the Apr. 12 event and check the gallery below to see more than 40 pictures of luncheon guests and the Oscar de la Renta fashion show.

Photos from top, Fashion designer and event co-sponsor Oscar de la Renta presents the former First Lady Nancy Reagan to the audience; from left, Colleagues president Patricia Brown, event co-sponsor Emanuele Aliotti Visdomini of Vhernier and Marcia Wilson Hobbs; two event co-chairs: Mary Milner, left, and Tawny Sanders (Photos: Alex J. Berliner/ abimages)



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Colleagues Honor Nancy Reagan

Published Dec. 29, 2011 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA