Oscar de la Renta and Saks Presented the 23rd annual Save Lake Tahoe benefit

Lake Tahoe shimmered sapphire-blue on Saturday for the 49th annual Save the Lake benefit, a luncheon and lakeside runway show of Oscar de la Renta’s Resort 2019, presented by Saks Fifth Avenue. Guests this year included Barbara Brown, Carolyn Chang, Riccardo Benavides, and Jessica Hickingbotham.

“The Oscar Show” as fans call it, is the highlight of the Tahoe summer season and this year it drew a record 675 guests.

Oscar de la Renta and Saks Presented the 23rd annual Save Lake Tahoe benefit

Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim  Drew Altizer

“Eliza and I look forward to this event all year because it’s like family. Friends come from all over the world,” said Alex Bolen, chief executive of Oscar de la Renta since 2004. “This is our twenty-third year and we’re very proud and honored to be associated with the League,” The Bolens were accompanied by de la Renta creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia.

Saks Fifth Avenue has produced the fundraiser since 1969 when it was first presented on Rubicon Beach by a barefoot Bill Blass.

“We’re delighted to continue this special tradition with the League to Save Lake Tahoe,” said Tracy Margolies, Saks Fifth Avenue chief merchant. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our customers to experience luxury fashion from Oscar de la Renta with a one-of-a-kind backdrop.”

Guest Carolyn Chang loved the new collection. “I’ve gotten to know the designers and I’m their biggest fans. They’ve done so much to move the line into the new era. They’re hip and modern and young,” she said.

Before driving up to Lake Tahoe for the event, Alex Bolen spent a week conducting retail research in Southern and Northern California, and checking possible pop-up event sites in Los Angeles and in San Francisco.

Alex and Eliza Bolen with their sons

Alex and Eliza Bolen with their sons  Drew Altizer

“Fashion retail today requires experimentation, an open mind, boots-on-the-ground observation,” said Bolen. “In San Francisco our focus will remain on the Saks Union Square store—and I feel there’s business we’re missing in Northern California. The area is underserved. Our recent popup in Montecito was highly successful, and I’m looking into other opportunities. And our focus will continue with the Saks Beverly Hills store.”

He took a walk around San Francisco’s historic Jackson Square area, a hive of tech startups and innovative design firms. Isabel Marant has a low-key boutique there. He also took the ferry across the bay to Larkspur to check on the Marin Country Mart.

“Testing the market is essential, and finding new ways to get our point across quickly in a cost effective manner, that’s the key,” said Bolen. “We’re assesing our desired customer and her changing requirements, then we can be quick to experiment. “

Funds raised Saturday for the League bring the total raised since the first fashion show to almost $18 million. Meanwhile, planning has begun for the 50th annual Oscar de la Renta show, in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue.