Discover Orange County - Special Advertising Section - Brief Article
Los Angeles Magazine, Sept, 2002 by Scott Huver
THINK OF LOS ANGELES AS THE GLAMOROUS, SEXY, PRADA-CLAD, GUCCI-
TOTTING, HAVE-IT-ALL big sister with an unerring instinct for all things hot, hip, and
cutting edge. L.A. as we'll call her, is dazzling and intoxicating, but oh, that 24-7
pace she sprints at--and in this minute's Ferragamo stilettos, no less.
And then there's the little sister who lives nearby but is frequently out-glammed by
her sibling's spotlight-friendly splendors, Orange County, or O.C.: a sunny, fresh-
faced, laid-back, athletic California beauty who shines in bikinis, flip-flops, and hair
scrunchies on the beach by day, yet cleans up beautifully after dark when she slips
into simple, elegant attire. This, you eventually suspect, is a gal who really may
have it all.
Despite their day-and-night differences, LA loves their sister to the south, and why
wouldn't we? O.C. is a comforting getaway, a familiar but simultaneously different
environment that offers all those fabulous SoCal amenities we don't always allow
ourselves to enjoy enough at home--the surf, the sun, serious shopping--wrapped in
a more casual but equally captivating package. O.C. shares L.A.'s taste for the finer
things in life, just at a calmer clip--relaxed enough to put the brakes on the fast-lane
lifestyle, refined enough to do it with sophistication and grace.
And, like the perfect sibling, solace is just a quick car trip away, traffic willing.
Traveling isn't always easy these days, but with O.C. adventures just a short jaunt
away, it can be.
The world at large is probably most familiar with its family-friendly ambassador,
Anaheim, a hub of entertainment, hospitality, and, of course, home of the Magic
Kingdom of Disneyland. But O.C. boasts a wealth of equally enchanted realms
providing escapist lifestyles for just about everyone, and there's nothing Mickey
Mouse about them.
Its 30-plus communities include classic palm tree-lined surf cities Huntington Beach
and Costa Mesa; eclectic, artsy enclaves like Laguna Beach; idyllic master-planned
cities like Mission Viejo; maritime-minded outposts like Newport Beach; historic,
centuries-old spots like Buena Park, Orange, San Juan Capistrano, and Yorba Linda
(which, among other things, gave the world Richard M. Nixon); Irvine, bustling with
business savvy and brainy UC academics; and all those well-heeled, scenic
And for all its picturesque landscapes, bluffside vistas, and perfect sunsets, O.C.
isn't above a little Hollywood glitz: it named its only commercial airport after John
Wayne. Even the soaring architecture of Garden Grave's Crystal Cathe-dral reveals a
hint of showbiz lurking in O.C.'s soul.
You want shopping on par with L.A.'s elite? Head directly to Costa Mesa's South
Coast Plaza, which packs an inclusive selection of elegant, world-class boutiques--
including Chanel, Tiffany & Co., Hugo Boss, Christian Dior, and the like--with classy
crowd-pleasers Abercrombie & Fitch, Pottery Barn, and more--all alongside a
convenient cluster of department stores--Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Robinsons
-May, and Macy's. Grown-ups love the neverending lineup of shops (more than 250)
and restaurants (nearly 40), and kids' heads spill over the colorful carousels at
Bristol and Bear streets. While they're going round-and-round, you can wind down at
the appointment-only Spa at South Coast Plaza, indulging in a plethora of luxurious
Not enough? Zip over to the tree-lined paseos of Newport Beach's Fashion Island,
where a collection of 200 stores awaits. Before you even start shopping you'll feel
the stress dissipate as the soaring waters of the shopping center's fountains are
through the air, the koi swim tranquilly in their pond, and the impressive Atrium Court
welcomes you. And then there are the stores, which range from the familiar,
including Bloomingdale's, BCBG, Express, Kenneth Cole, Neiman Marcus, NIKE
Goddess, and Shabby Chic, to name but a few to the unique (from Apropo and its
"discriminating women's fashions" to Z Gallerie and its "eclectic furnishings"). To fill
in any gaps, there are salons, spas, restaurants, and a dozen movie screens.
Still can't find the ultimate shopping score? Did we mention The Block at Orange?
How about Downtown Disney in Anaheim or the Irvine Spectrum Center? Got time to
zoom over to Costa Mesa's Triangle Square, Tustin's The Market Place, or the malls
of Buena Park or Laguna Hills? Of course you do. With traffic on your side, L.A.
denizens can make it to even the farthest away of these hot spots in just over an
We fashion-conscious northerners must give props to the trendsetting stylemakers
who started out in Orange County. St. John Knits began back in 1962 when fashion
model Marie Gray designed a stylish sleeveless gray knit dresses for her friends.
Now celebrating its 40th year, the Irvine-based company, still family-owned and
operated, is an international fashion powerhouse, selling jewelry, accessories, and
signature knits in more than 30 countries worldwide.
In 1962 you also could have found a tiny shack called Lorne's in Newport Beach
selling bikinis to Gidgetesque teenage girls. That year, while attending a swimwear
show, the shop's owner Lorne Huycke had an amused reaction to the shiny black
suits she saw on display, telling her husband they made the models look like "wet
seals," and a brand name was born. Today Wet Seal operates more than 580 retail
stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
Similarly, the origins of surf gear legend Quiksilver began in Newport Beach, in the
mid-1970s, when curl-catching buds Jeff Hawkman (a top surf competitor) and
Robert "Buzz" McKnight (a USC business grad) created a sensation by introducing
the durable, flexible, lightweight Australian broadshorts to the SoCal surf culture. The
introduction of the spin-off Roxy women's brand helped popularize the sport and its
styles with women. Today Quiksilver currently rides a global wave amounting to
more than $600 million in annual sales.
And it wouldn't be Orange County without the right shades. Foothill Ranch-based,
one time motocross goggle-maker Oakley (named after company founder Jim
Jannard's dog) had its brightest moment with the creation of its glare-free, high-
performance eyewear in the early 1980s, using exotic materials, from pure titanium
to ballistic Kevlar, to craft its now-iconic sunglasses. Oakley currently is found in
more than 70 countries worldwide.
With such style sensations in its pedigree, is it any wonder that one of the county's
favorite daughters, No Doubt's Gwen Stefani, known for her offbeat O.C. mix of thrift
-store casual and Mute couture chic, is one of today's most emulated fashion icons?
Which brings us back, revisiting the little-sister metaphor, to why oh-so-cool L.A.
adores fun-loving O.C.: She may still be a beach bunny at heart, but even her
glamour-puss sibling to the north has to admit that she's grown up with style and
class to spare. L.A. will hang with O.C. any time--as long as big sis can borrow her
Orange County Resource Guide
Newport Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
3300 West Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach
(949) 722-1611 or (800) 94-COAST, www.newportbeach-cvb.com
South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa
(800) 782-8888, www.southcoastplaza.com
The Sports Club/Irvine
1980 Main Street, Irvine
(949) 975-8400, www.sportsclubirvine.com