My Dinner with Boaz
There are very few men (on either Coast) more dashing than Boaz Mazor. Except for, perhaps, his boss: the inimitable designer Oscar de la Renta.
Fortunately for fashionable Bay Area-Tahoe denizens, this dynamic duo have graced us with almost-annual August visits (and fantastic fashion) since 1995 when de la Renta participated in his first Saks Fifth Avenue-League to Save Lake Tahoe fashion show.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the League Show was originally dreamed-up by Lake-lover, longtime-show chairwoman and fashion-leader Diana Dollar Knowles (who though unable to attend underwrote this year’s luncheon) and former Saks president Jim Ludwig.
Back in the day, Knowles (and fellow League members such as Emmy and Dolph Andrews, Jeanne Jackson and the late Nan Kempner) sweetly inveigled their pal, the late designer Bill Blass, to be the show’s star designer and present a parade of his classic, all-American stylings across wooden slats set along the sand of Tahoe’s world-famous turquoise blue waters.
This show remains a swimming success and a highlight of the (once-quiet) summer season. But Blass eventually decided the show was an awful lot of work and chose to sit a summer out. So it was in 1995 that Oscar de la Renta ably stepped up to assist the League and its Saks fashion show.
The two designers alternated their fashionable appearances at the formerly bi-summer show until Blass’ death in 2002.
This year, more than 600 guests turned out for the League’s show -- set (again) on the Sunnyside shore of event chairwoman Mara Fritz’s rusti-gant estate; with able assists from her co-chairwomen Emmy Andrews and Barbara Brown.
Oscar de la Renta at the Saks-League to Save Lake Tahoe fashion show
Even amid our current economic woes, this show proved that great fashion can inspire a loosening of the most tightly-held purse-strings: a portion of sales from the dazzling 2010 de la Renta Resort Collection benefitted the League to the tune of a very healthy $400K.
“Because so many of our records exist prior to the computer age, tracking down the exact amount raised by this event over 40 years would require a research project of historic proportions,” said League Executive Director Rochelle Nason, laughing. “I will be as vague as saying the show has raised many millions. Which has been absolutely critical to our campaign of, ‘Keeping Tahoe Blue’.”
And even if the guests did not arrive home with a fabulous new frock, everyone was gifted with an Oscar original: a colorful ikat-print apron and two Dominican Republic-inspired recipes from the kitchen of the designing designer’s villa at Punta Cana on Tortuga Bay.
Following the traditional post-show scrum in the fashion samples tent where Mazor masterfully wields both his cell phone and measuring tape, he zoomed back to San Francisco and tucked into his stylish crib at the Four Seasons Hotel.
By day, Mazor set up shop and presented trunk shows and fittings of Oscar’s Resort Collection at Saks and Neiman Marcus (SF and Stanford). (Note: Oscar de la Renta is also available at Wilkes Bashford boutiques).
By night, Mazor was fetted-and-fussed over by his many friends here, including Frances Bowes, Emmy and Dolph Andrews, Diana Knowles, Edith and Joe Tobin, and Gretchen and Howard Leach.
And of course, his dear pal, stylish Sally Debenham, a former League model and longtime friend of both Blass and Oscar.
Catching up post-Tahoe, we joined Debenham and Mazor for dinner at the always-delish Le Central where our delightful table-talk dish was deeper than any pizza pie.
Natty in a summer seersucker suit, none tells a story better than Mazor. From the gilt-edged client list which comprises de la Renta’s devoted customers to Mazor’s own stature within the beau monde, he reigns as a world-class raconteur.
But catty, he is not. Loyalty, charisma and glamour are Mazor’s coat-of-arms.
So we’re keeping this report to fashion, sweetie.
Even with a 20-percent reduction on prices in this year’s Oscar Resort line, the collection still pulled in close to the same amount as last year: almost $750K in sales. Naturally we assumed this reduction was in response to our bugaboo economy.
“Actually, our goal with the price reduction is to attract a younger clientele. Historically, Oscar has been viewed as a line for a wealthy, mature woman,” explained Mazor. “We wanted women, of all ages, not to feel intimidated by the price range.”
As such, the overall feel of the Resort 2010 is both classic and, well, a little bit sassy. For evening, there are still the iconic gowns dramatically rendered in material such as silver lame draped mousseline and silk faille embroidered with shimmering paillettes.
There are also brightly-colored print cocktail dresses (belted-at-the-waist) that could easily translate from day-to-night and will definitely appeal to the upscale, 30-something customer.
But it’s the series of suits (day or night), that we found the most exciting and suitable for any woman, timeless in her fashion: the suit’s classic tweed bouclé is slightly Euro in its silhouette. However it is trimmed with a kind of Flapper-esque verve that translates to elements such as bias-cut pleats, silk ribbon trim, embroidery and buttons. All topped by a rakishly-angled beret. And, bravo!
Our personal jury is still out in regards to these knee-length suits paired with platform heels and ... bobby socks. But on a gorgeous, six-foot-tall runway model, anything works.
Keep your eyes peeled -- any number of these looks might be spotted on the stylish shoulders of some of Boaz’s best Bay Area clients: Dede Wilsey, Marissa Mayer, Yurie Pascarella and Barbara Brown.
While his Tahoe stint is tough duty, Boaz treasures the friendships that have developed from his association with the League’s show.
“When I first started coming to Tahoe, I often stayed with Diana and Gorham Knowles. After she stopped coming, her late son, Jody Hickingbotham would host me,” said Mazor. “This year, Jody’s son and daughter-in-law, Jay and Jessica Hickingbotham, called and insisted I stay with them at their place in Tahoe.
“This is the third generation of that family,” said Mazor, clearly touched. “It’s become a lovely tradition.”
As his dance-card is often full when he’s bunking here, it’s the rare night when he stays put in the Four Seasons and sups upon room service. So we figured Mazor must have a master-list of favorite dining spots.
Current top vote-getters: Slanted Door, Boulevard and Le Central (“my neighborhood place -- I love it!”). But Mazor also makes a point of venturing somewhere new, either in the Mission or South of Market. This trip? Bar Bambino on 16th Street in the Mission (“a good experience -- it was given a great review by Michael Bauer!”).
After some 30 years as de la Renta’s Viscount of Vogue, we assumed we knew the name Mazor would utter when we asked his favorite designer. But as we admired his tan seersucker suit at dinner, we kept wondering: just where does this most stylish of men, who knows the fashion world inside-and-out, obtain his singular and distinctively dapper look?
“The fabric is from Holland & Holland in London. I love seersucker,” enthused Mazor. “Then I had a tailor in New York make it for me. Whenever I wear this, people always comment. Which makes me laugh -- I’m wearing a suit of my own fabric made by an unknown tailor!”
Check out more photos of the Oscar de la Renta 2010 Resort Collection below
Day-to-evening Resort 2010 print dress
Cocktail dress for a new age
Possibly the most stylish bathing suit skirt ever created, topped with an embroidered leather coat
Dede Wilsey, Saks VP-GM Cheryl Fordham and Boaz Mazor
New look in tweed suits
Dressy daytime or elegant evening suit
Colorful Resort 2010 cocktail dress, the short version
Same material, gussied up as an evening-length gown
Post-show, Boaz works his magic in the samples tent