BY DONNA BUNCE
The tray-passed red cosmo and green apple martinis were a sure sign the holidays had arrived at The Fashionable Women of Chapman's annual soiree, "Christmas at The Ritz," Saturday, December 5. This year's 23rd annual holiday celebration, held at its namesake, the venerable Ritz Restaurant & Garden in Newport Beach, drew a sold-out contingent of 345 guests looking forward to ushering in the holiday season in grand style.
As always, the event did not disappoint. Chairman Barbara Eidson and presidentCharlene Prager were on the red carpet greeting guests along with Chapman UniversityPresident Jim Doti and his wife Lynne, Neiman Marcus Fashion Island Vice President and General Manager Ariela Shani (Neiman Marcus was fashion presenter) and, finally, none other than Santa Claus himself (aka Garland L. Maciel, Sr.).
From the Marani Vodka martinis in the garden to the delicious three-course lunch featuring seared tournedos of filet mignon in the garlanded restaurant, smiles abounded. Add to that informal modeling of men's and women's fashions and jewelry by luxury retailer Neiman Marcus and a much-anticipated 20-item opportunity drawing, and guests were enchanted.
This year's holiday luncheon had a surprise disclosure, in that Chapman graduate and longtime Fashionable Women of Chapman supporter Adrienne Brennan and her sonPatrick, currently a University of Pennsylvania sophomore, announced a $1 million gift to the Endowment Fund of Chapman's esteemed Dodge College of Film and Media Arts to support senior students' film projects. Brennan, known in the area for her successful real estate career and president-elect of the 200-member Chapman support group, said, "My son Patrick and I are passionate about education and have made a commitment to support educational causes." Patrick's remarks brought tears to many as he spoke about his mother's guiding hand in teaching him the importance of two things: "education and philanthropy."
The opportunity prize drawing, which featured luxury items from area retailers, as well as a $2,300 Ritz Restaurant dinner in the wine cellar for 20, a $5,000 Rembrandt etching, a $1,800 wine country package, and an original oil valued at $1,800 by FWC member and accomplished Laguna Beach artist Georgeana Ireland. It was FWC member Brenda Carver who took home the "loot," as they say. She won three items – the Fashion Island $1,000 gift certificate, the $1,200 Ann Foster Designs multi-strand aquamarine and sterling silver necklace and matching earrings and the Grand Prize, a $10,900 diamond and platinum necklace from Traditional Jewelers! Guests departed with Fresh skincare products, courtesy of Neiman Marcus.
Thanks to many generous underwriters, especially Grand Patrons Marybelle and S. PaulMusco, $162,000 was netted to support the group's $1 million student filmmaker endowment for Dodge College.