Elizabeth Segerstrom and Anton Segerstrom South Coast Plaza 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

To launch its 50th anniversary, South Coast Plaza held a dinner for Los Angeles-based editors at Little Beach House in Malibu to preview the yearlong celebrations and retail unveilings that will commemorate the milestone.

Elizabeth Segerstrom, wife of the late Henry Segerstrom and co-managing partner of the family business that owns the retail center, and Henry’s son Anton Segerstrom, who oversees South Coast Plaza, shared memories and some hints of what’s to come.

Several fashion houses will be creating limited-edition product for the anniversary, including Gucci, which will create five Sylvie bags; a coat by Max Mara; sneakers by Roger Vivier, and product from Bottega Veneta and Chanel. Another coffee table book by Assouline is forthcoming in the fall, as are several events in partnership with Harper’s Bazaar.

Around the dining room were framed images from South Coast’s latest spring catalogue, as well as archival photos that showed a young Anton Segerstrom cutting the ribbon at the May Company store in 1966 as his father looked on.

“It was great vision and great risk,” said the younger Segerstrom of his father’s many partnerships and commissions. “Our first ad agency was run by an upstart named Jay Chiat who worked in Santa Ana, who later went on to found Chiat Day. We also hired a young architect at Gruen and Associates named Frank Gehry, to design the Joseph Magnin store.”

Segerstrom recalled working as a stock boy at Courrèges in the Seventies, when his parents decided to bring French fashion to Orange County. It was also the decade that saw Nordstrom open its first store outside the Pacific Northwest. It has since expanded twice and remains one of the top grossing locations for total sales and per-square-foot sales.

The center helped create a two-market landscape for luxury retailers in Southern California, proving that there were sales to be had off Rodeo Drive, as was the case with Yves Saint Laurent and Tiffany and Co. Among this year’s retail developments are a Dior Homme store opening Feb. 14 and the expansion of Burberry.

South Coast Plaza comprises more than one million square feet and is closing in on $2 billion in sales this year.