Established 1978
Fantasy Gowns

Gala Openings In San Francisco

by Teresa Rodriguez

Ladies behind the galas and designers behind the gowns

Just a few weeks before Paris lights the runways for Fashion Week, San Francisco will be aglow with the excitement of San Francisco Opera’s 90th season and San Francisco Symphony’s opening galas. While the musicians and opera singers are practicing for their grand performances, San Francisco socialites are also preparing to walk the red carpets of San Francisco’s beloved balls.

The Nob Hill Gazette invited three San Francisco designers to create fantasy gowns for the lovely ladies who help organize these lavish affairs. They are Colleen Quen, Joseph Domingo, and Giancarlo Vega.

Colleen Quen, a haute couture icon for over a decade, has dressed celebrities including Tyra Banks and Paris Hilton in her dramatic and luminous designs. For this fantasy fashion red carpet ride she created gowns for the 2012 Symphony Opening Gala  Chair Christine Lamond and Symphony Patrons’ Dinner Chair Pamela Deikel.

Since opening his own atelier on Post Street in 1999, Joseph Domingo has created extraordinary fashions for San Francisco’s society. His line was showcased with much buzz during Los Angeles Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2006.  For us, he designed a fantasy gown for Co-Chair of the 2012 Opera Ball Cathy MacNaughton.

In 2002, Giancarlo Vega made his debut as one of the featured designers in The Susan G. Komen Foundation Fashion Show. Since then, his colorful couture gowns have been worn to many San Francisco galas. He designed a whimsical gown with Co-Chair of the 2012 Opera Ball Diane Rubin in mind.

See more gown sketches by these designers at

 Autumn 2012 Gown Trends

This year, the spotlight is on colors that have more than one meaning— such as canary, fuchsia, tangerine, and silver. At Barneys New York the focus is on structure and style. There, shoppers can find contemporary gowns by Nina Ricci, Lanvin, J. Mendel, and Givenchy.

At Saks Fifth Avenue, designers such as Badgley Mischka, Roberto Cavalli, and Donna Karan are dazzling shoppers with shimmering sequins gowns.

Neiman Marcus will not be outdone this gala season with its jaw-dropping collection. The designer delights include the Marchesa Couture Beaded Corset-Top Gown and the Monique Lhuillier  Embroidered Tulle Ballgown. Both have to be pre-ordered, so hurry ladies. Of course, traditional favorites can be found at Neiman Marcus as well; these include Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren Black Label, and Oscar de la Renta.

Whispers can be heard around town about what the ladies who lunch will be dressed in this gala season. Although no secrets have been shared, one thing is for certain; the 2012 galas will be filled with colorful displays of creativity and sparkling beauty.

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