The Friends of Robinson Gardens “La Dolce Vita” Patron Gala
Reminiscent of Virginia Robinson’s legendary parties, “La Dolce Vita” was the Italian-themed Grand Soiree for the VRG Patron Gala event this year. It was a beautiful, elegant celebration, with every detail thought of to perfection. Glamorously dressed ladies and gentlemen in black tie were greeted by servers offering delicious hors d’oeuvres and champagne. A wine tasting was provided by the charming owners of Accasbel Wines, Nino O’Brien and Jennifer Varsak, who also generously donated the wines for the Gala dinner. On the second floor of the Pool Pavilion, a gem of a card room where Mrs. Robinson used to play bridge was also open for guests to explore. Its faux-painted marble walls and columns and Italianate ornately painted panels are in much need of restoration. There was a pledge drive for the card room, along with exciting silent and live auction items kindly donated by the community, and generously bid on by the Gala guests.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the extraordinary Joni Smith with the “Spirit of Beverly Hills Award” in recognition of her outstanding cultural and philanthropic leadership. Past President and Gala co-chair Adrienne Horwitch stated that Joni’s leadership roles on the boards of the Music Center, Blue Ribbon, Costume Council of LACMA, Library Foundation and Diadames to mention a few have “made a lasting difference to Los Angeles.” Joni thanked the Friends for the honor and explained how Virginia Robinson was very close to her husband Clark’s mother. Joni said that Virginia used her estate for many fundraisers for the arts and the children. Due to “her lifetime dedication to improving the social and cultural resources of the community,” Mrs. Robinson was truly the First Lady of Beverly Hills. Adrienne added that “Joni’s commitment to the cultural vitality of our community is equally strong,” and that she “is a person to admire and who inspires.”
As the night progressed, twinkling lights strung above the Great Lawn illuminated the garden like a paradise. On the tables, decorated by florist Ricardo Luna of Luna Gardens Events, were stunning creations of vibrant fuschia, yellow and orange roses, and burgundy orchids with pale green hydrangeas and grapes providing a luscious contrast in the centerpieces. The gold rimmed glasses and gold beaded plates added to the romantic opulence of the tables, covered with pink, green, and black and white striped tablecloths, which echoed the black and white stripes of the Gala invitation. Guests feasted on delicious truffled wild mushroom pasta, branzino with saffron rice and beef tenderloin tournedos, catered by the Kitchen for Exploring Foods, and they danced to the music of Art Deco Entertainment. As a thoughtful touch, fuchsia shawls, draped on the chairs, were provided for the women to wear as the night air cooled. At the end of the evening, the ladies were delighted to receive a colorful Ted Baker scarf/cape, and the gentlemen were given an elegant set of Cartier cards.
Thank you to our very talented and amazing co-chairs Adrienne Horwitch, Cindy Fields and Ricki Ring and our dedicated Patron Gala Committee for creating such a beautiful, fabulous evening! And last, but not least, don’t miss looking at the gorgeous tribute book designed by Friends member Diane Jenkins – it is a stunning feast for the eyes with romantic scenes of Rome, graceful, decorative vignettes on almost every page and full of heart-warming, affectionate, admiring and deserving accolades for Joni Smith, who like Mrs. Robinson in her day, has brought so much culture and philanthropy to Los Angeles. Our wonderful President Marian Power also announced that the theme of the Garden Tour in May will be “Legendary Beverly Hills” — another spectacular event to look forward to – and all for the great cause of preserving Virginia Robinson Gardens which never fails to inspire adults and children alike with its timeless beauty and serenity.
Photos: Lee Salem Photography