Festival of Arts rolls out red carpet for end of summer gala and fashion show


The Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters wrapped its final weekend of the summer with a jam-packed celebration of events. The festive weekend kicked off with the glamorous end-of-summer extravaganza A Night of Magic Gala on Saturday evening, followed by the annual Festival Runway Fashion Show on Sunday afternoon, highlighting creativity and sustainability by Festival exhibiting artists.

Le Petit Cirque acrobats and stilt walkers entertain guests at the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters end-of-summer gala last Saturday. Photo/Jim Collins

On Saturday, Aug. 26, the Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters welcomed thousands of guests to its biggest bash of the season for a jam-packed night of fine art, living pictures, strolling entertainment, giveaways and more. The event began with a red carpet entrance where guests posed for photographers and in photo booths for souvenir printouts. Among those who walked the carpet were celebrity guests Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds), Linda Lavin (Alice), Ginger Chan (KTLA), Kate Linder (Young and the Restless), and the evening’s host, Paula Abdul.

Entertainment was scattered throughout the art exhibit and included Le Petit Cirque acrobats and stilt walkers, as well as close-up magic from three world-class magicians: Johnny Ace Palmer, World Champion Magician; Jon Armstrong and the Mystifying Tiny Plunger; and David Stryker, magician and mentalist. Those in attendance danced to the sounds of three-time Grammy Award winner and Oscar-nominated songwriter Sergio Mendes, whose vivacious melodies and infectious rhythms filled the Festival grounds.

After the concert, guests proceeded to the Irvine Bowl to enjoy a special performance of the 90th Annual Pageant of the Masters production of “Art Colony: In the Company of Artists.” Paula Abdul introduced the Pageant of the Masters, sharing her longtime love of the show since her first visit in 1999. Before the show, Paula also pulled the winning ticket for the Festival’s summer-long raffle. The winner of the 2024 Volvo C40 Recharge Twin Ultimate was Mariam Pourzamani of San Diego. Proceeds from the night support arts programming for the Festival of Arts.

Paula Abdul hosts a special performance of the Pageant of the Masters at the Festival of Arts on Aug. 26. Photo/Jim Collins

Festival Runway Fashion Show

The next day, the Festival of Arts held its 13th annual Festival Runway Fashion Show, highlighting creativity, sustainability and innovation. Festival artists wowed audiences with their outfits utilizing reclaimed, reused or recycled materials. The runway show, sponsored by Fashion Island, featured a panel of three judges that chose the top looks in four categories while Festival visitors cast their votes for the “People’s Choice Award.”

Film production designer Nelson Coates hosted the Festival Runway Fashion Show. Selecting the winners were Laguna Beach artist and former costume and set designer Gerard Basil Stripling, award-winning costume designer Salvador Perez, and fashion executive, textile designer, documentary producer and creative director Suzi Chauvel.

Fashion show host Nelson Coates at the Festival of Arts. Credit/Kyle Fierro

Painter Elizabeth McGhee was awarded “Most Innovative Use of Materials” for her 1950s-style Bubble Dress, which she designed and modeled herself. She used colorful single-use plastic bags inside bubble wrap to create dots of color inspired by the works of oil painter George Seurat. McGhee’s runway look impressed the crowd and took home the highly coveted “People’s Choice Award.”

“Most Creative Concept” was awarded to mixed media artist Jayne Dion for her Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun-inspired dress, renowned for her depictions of Marie Antoinette. The beautiful ensemble was crafted from aluminum screen doors, hundreds of can tabs, trash bags, 16 gauge wire, bed sheets and crepe paper party streamers.

Painter Nancy Swan won “Most Glamorous & Elegant Red Carpet Worthy Creation” for her Gilded Age gown using mylar balloons, trash bags and hand-painted color squares from 1,277 breakfast bars, all eaten by the artist and saved since 2020.

Pencil artist Rowan Foley won “Most Exciting Ensemble Inspired by a Famous Artist” for her Rococo style dress, the style worn by Marie Antoinette. Rowan aimed to pay tribute to the Festival of Arts’ community artists, and the entirety of her dress was made of paper art pieces contributed by her fellow exhibitors.

Pencil artist Rowan Foley won “Most Exciting Ensemble Inspired by a Famous Artist” for her Rococo style dress, the style worn by Marie Antoinette. Photo/Kyle Fierro

Additional artists who showcased their “creative couture” were jeweler Linda Potichke, whose vest was hand sewn from over 200 flowers and cat food lids; photographer Rick Graves and his Laguna Beach Canyon Tennis Courts inspired ensemble, made of old tennis nets, tennis balls, tennis racquets and tennis racquet string; and photographer Hailley Howard, whose simple yet striking gown used plastics and materials from her studio shelf.


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