Nancy Reagan feted by old friends Oscar de la Renta, John Galanos and more at Colleagues' luncheon
Former First Lady Nancy Reagan was reunited with old friends Tuesday, when she was guest of honor at the annual spring gathering of the Colleagues, a volunteer group that supports the Children’s Institute in its work to help youngsters affected by violence, abuse or neglect.
First, Oscar de la Renta stopped by the prelunch VIP reception before escorting Reagan into the ballroom at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
“He’s my old dear friend,” said the former first lady. “He’s very special.”
Reagan settled in at her table between De la Renta and Emanuele Aliotti Visdomini, vice president of jeweler Vhernier. A steady stream of friends and admirers greeted Reagan, among them honorary chair Betsy Bloomingdale, Colleagues president Patricia Brown and fashion designer James Galanos.
“She’s always delightful,” said Galanos, the couturier who created Reagan’s first inaugural gown.
De la Renta said he first met Reagan during her husband’s time as California governor. “What is so extraordinary is that they were a true couple,” he said. “They gave a lot to each other and she 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 and she was always there behind him.”
More than 800 guests paid a minimum $150 for the luncheon, co-sponsored by Vhernier and De la Renta, who showed his fall 2011 collection before presenting the award to Reagan.
A 49-year member of the group, Reagan rose from her table to accept. “Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody,” she said. “I’m very appreciative and I’m happy to be here.”
Anne Johnson served as executive chair with co-chairs Jane Ackerman, Topsy Doheny, Jenny Jones, Debbie Lanni, Mary Martin, Mary Milner, Wendy Stark Morrissey, Tawny Sanders, Ginny Sydorick and Chardee Trainer.
-- Ellen Olivier
Photo: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan shares a smile with Oscar de la Renta at the Colleagues' luncheon in her honor. Credit: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages