The Art of Fashion 2024

Art of fashion 2024 honorary chair joan waitt

The Country Friends Celebrates Fashion and Philanthropy
Fashions from the fall-winter collections of South Coast Plaza’s roster of renowned international designers and retailers will once again take to the runway on September 12 at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The Art of Fashion runway show and luncheon presented by The Country Friends marks the nonprofit’s 70th anniversary and its 20-year partnership with South Coast Plaza. Philanthropist Joan Waitt serves as the event’s honorary chair with co-chairs Tamara Lafarga-Joseph and MJ Wittman. Emcee is Sandra Maas, the award-winning broadcast journalist and community leader.

“We are thrilled to have such accomplished and compassionate women heading up this year’s Art of Fashion,” says TCF Board President Janean Stripe. Founded in 1954, the nonprofit has provided $15 million to charitable organizations in San Diego County with an emphasis on those helping women, children, the elderly, families, the military, and persons with disabilities.

This year’s runway show will highlight designs from Balmain, Camilla, Isabel Marant, Lanvin, Max Mara, Michael Kors Collection, Missoni, Monique Lhuillier, Oscar de la Renta, and Saks Fifth Avenue. The event begins with a champagne reception and shopping at South Coast Plaza mini boutiques on The Inn’s lawn featuring Balmain, Camilla, Furla, Isabel Marant, Lanvin, Max Mara, Oscar de la Renta, and Vitra Eyewear, followed by the runway show, luncheon, live auction, and opportunity drawing.

Waitt, the mother of four, is a businesswoman and generous philanthropist. Born in Sioux City, Iowa, her mother died in childbirth when Joan was just two years old. She credits her late father for keeping the family of five children together and teaching them to give back to the community. “He is the reason I do what I do,” she once said, referring to her many charitable causes. For years, she has hosted the Dream On Concert Gala at her hilltop estate in La Jolla to benefit Promises2Kids, which provides support for foster youth in San Diego County. She has also funded the Family Justice Center, Becky’s House, and Rady Children’s Hospital, to name just a few.

Lafarga-Joseph, an artist and entrepreneur, previously chaired the Art of Fashion and now serves on The Country Friends Board of Directors, and is also board chair of Visions Global Empowerment, an international nonprofit. Named a Woman of Dedication by the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary for her community service, she also supports the Vision of Children Foundation, Miracle Babies, Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund, Rancho Coastal Humane Society, and many more nonprofits. She was featured in the book, She Who Inspires: Philanthropic Women Changing the World from San Diego.

Wittman has co-chaired the Miracle Babies Breakfast at Tiffany’s luncheon as well as the nonprofit’s Night in Venice gala. She has also been actively involved with Vision of Children, Tea3 Foundation, National Charity League, and Father Joe’s Villages, as well as church and school groups. She navigates life’s challenges with grace and uses her talents to uplift others. Wittman’s passion for floral design led her to found Fleuressence, a high-end event planning business.
For more information on Art of Fashion and to purchase tickets, call (858) 756-1192, ext. 4 or visit

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Esteban Villanueva