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Women of Style
Michelle Pulfrey | Photo: Bode Helm | August 29, 2013
Orange County’s social calendars are packed—we’ve got galas every week, a litany of luncheons and a full docket of fashion shows. But that’s what you’d expect in a region that’s home to some of the best-dressed women in the country. Here, going glam is simply a way of life. And we’ve gathered six fashion mavens who set the standard for our corner of the coast’s elegant, yet fun, brand of style.
Julie Ann Ulcickas
Etiquette and Modeling Trainer for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court
As a child, Julie Ann Ulcickas loved rummaging through her mother’s closet. “She was a runway model [for Oleg Cassini and Don Loper] in the ’50s, and she had fabulous things,” recalls Ulcickas, a USC alum and former Tournament of Roses Royal Court queen. (Though she lives in Orange County, she remains involved in the organization, coaching each new court on poise and proper etiquette.) And her mother’s high-fashion wardrobe saw her through those early years. “To this day, my mom tells people that she feels as though she went to USC because half of her wardrobe came with me.” She married Bluewater Grill restaurateur Jim Ulcickas in 2003, and together they have two children—Frank, 8, and Ella, 6. And she’s already gotten a taste of her own medicine: “My daughter is a total fashionista and loves to play with my clothes and makeup.” When it comes to defining her personal style, Ulcickas calls it classic, inspired by that icon of elegance Grace Kelly. “She epitomized taste and elegance, and no one can deny that she was one of the most feminine, graceful women of her time.”
CASA Orange County Ambassador
Petite powerhouse Lourdes Nark isn’t about to let her frame get in the way of style. “I wear leather all year round,” she notes. “It’s so versatile, paper thin and comfortable now.” As an ambassador for CASA Orange County, she’s co-chaired the organization’s last three benefits, which means she dresses up a lot. When it comes to gowns, she says you can’t go wrong with Gucci, Saint Laurent or Versace. “I love their styles, fabrics and fit.” On a more casual day, she’ll opt for Vince—“pants, a top and a sweater, and they have the best shirts.” Her goal—always—is to look natural. “Audrey Hepburn didn’t try too hard, yet she looked classy and sophisticated. I identify with her iconic style the most.” And Nark knows something about style—she spent years designing and manufacturing her own sweater line and owned two retail stores in Seattle before closing shop and moving to Orange County. Now, she enjoys styling her friends—and she’s itching to return to the world of fashion. She’s headed to Milan this month for Fashion Week—a trip that she’s making with Max Mara owner and friend Cathy Frandsen. “This is the most exciting time to go. Everyone looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to shop and eat.”
Founding Member of CHOC Children’s Foundation
If collecting shoes is a hobby, then Heather Madden is dedicated to the craft. And she leaves a gorgeous pair to fill as she steps out of her post as director of CHOC Children’s Foundation (although she plans to continue her support). During her tenure, she helped raise more than $125 million for the medical center’s new patient tower. And at this year’s gala, she turned heads in a jaw-dropping black tulle Oscar de la Renta gown. “It was the perfect year for me to wear something over-the-top—we celebrated the new tower opening, and it was the gala’s fifth anniversary… The torture was having to wait three months to wear it.” She and her husband, Jim, enjoy a bicoastal lifestyle, leaving O.C. in the summer to spend time in the Hamptons and sail in Florida, which means you’ll find her sporting simple and versatile ensembles. But come fall, she dons Grace Kelly-inspired looks. “I describe it as classic preppy,” she says. “I appreciate simple rolled-up jeans and crisp white shirts with classic heels.” And about that shoe collection—it’s monopolized by one designer name: Manolo Blahnik. But for Madden, personal style isn’t just about designer labels. “It’s knowing what fits your personality, your body type and your comfort level.”
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