Malibu Seen

Holly Robinson Peete and pal Vanessa Williams make this year's DesignCare fundraiser a fashionable affair at the Gustavson estate in Malibu. Photo by Alex Berliner/Berliner Studio


The glorious Gustavson estate in Serra Retreat was the place to be as one of the city’s cutest couples put on one of the summer’s best bashes. Holly Robinson Peete and her famous football hubby Rodney pulled out all the stops for DesignCare 2008-a mix of fun, food, fashion, music and inspiration. Over the years, the all-star event has raised millions for the pair’s Hollyrod Foundation.

Photographers snapped away as the Peete’s high profile pals waltzed the red carpet. Lisa Rinna went wild in sexy leopard print chiffon while Daisy Fuentes favored a black one-shouldered mini. Vanessa Williams seemed a deep purple dream in her vibrant crepe dress paired with a hunky turquoise necklace and Holly dazzled in a dramatic black sequins fishtail gown. No jams and flip-flops for this crowd, even the guys were styling in crisp white linen suits and fashionable fedoras.

They gathered on the green sipping vodka cocktails and grooved to songs from Prince and Stevie Wonder. The tables were done in breezy pastel tones topped by arrangements of puffy purple alliums, green orchids, blush roses and white hydrangea. Servers made the rounds with platters of shrimp and crab cakes while chefs grilled up a mountain of tasty lamb chops, juicy steaks, chicken and veggies.

After all these years, DesignCare still retains its homey summer vibe albeit on a grander scale. “We went from a 75 person backyard barbeque to this,” said Rodney who marveled at the estate’s impressive grounds. “This isn’t a home,” he mused, “this is a park.”

Between bites, locals like Liane Weintraub checked out the silent auction items which included some major must haves. They included museum worthy hand blown glass bowls, trips to top destinations around the world, $20,000 Rolex watches and bling galore from major

tourmaline cocktail rings to divine diamond bracelets.

Soon it was Showtime and we took our seats by the fashion runway. The program kicked off with an inspirational tribute to this year’s honorees including James Warsaw, Lisette Ackerberg and Jason “JMac” Mc Elwain, a teen with autism who has become a basketball sensation. Cedric the Entertainer received this year’s HollyRod Humanitarian Award.

Holly started the foundation following her dad’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. The Peetes launched hollyrod4kids after their son was diagnosed with autism. “We wanted to share what was working for our son,” said Rodney. “We wanted to share things that have helped him.” Holly’s goal is to see a comprehensive program for autism. “It’s a dream,” she says, “but we can get there.”

Next, the evening shifted gears with a sneak peek at Emanuel Ungaro’s dreamy fall collection. Leggy models pranced down the catwalk in off- the-shoulder chiffon stunners and ruffled confections in shades of lavender and tangerine. Guys made bold statements rocking the runway in hot pink blazers and baby blue button down shirts.

The evening wrapped up on a musical note with a special performance by R&B recording artist Maxwell. The fashionable affair raised nearly half a million dollars for Hollyrod proving that compassion never goes out of style.

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