The final swatch
Before we look at the latest autumnwinter 2007 collections,
Elyse Glickman, Karen Loftus and Sandi Margolis examine
whats in season right now from their earlier attendance at Los
Angeles Fashion Week
it seemed as if the Los Angeles fashion scene got a job at Price
Waterhouse and was compelled to conform to the company's strict
Metaphors aside, in the name of looking and feeling more professional, Mercedes-Benz Los Angeles Fashion Week Fashion
Week traded in its inherent individuality and fun (including many
of the showcases and parties) for something resembling order and
establishment. Although craziness was still present in the form
of a random group of middle-tier film and television celebs (some
exceptions being the fabulous Angela Bassett, Lisa Edelstein of
House, Diana Ross and Robert Verdi; everybody else who mattered,
like the Hilton sisters, Cameron Diaz and Patrick Dr McDreamy
Dempsey, showed up at William Rast's über-exclusive show),
stylists seeking their own spotlight and a floor show of attendees
that would make Ab Fab's Pats and Eddy look quite demure
in comparison, the spark of the old days (where we madly dashed
back and forth between loft instalments, Sixth on Seventh shows
at the Downtown Standard Hotel and Smashbox Studios) was seeming
all but extinguished.
That being said, there were some bright spots
during the week that signified a full-blown return to dressing up,
whether or not you had anywhere to go. And there were at least a
handful of places to go, including a few imaginative off-site shows
and a pleasant showcase staged at the L'Ermitage's rooftop courtesy
of Tracy Paul and her staff.
While sophistication abounds in New York and Europe,
several Los Angeles designers are trying to jump on that same, more
runway-to-real life bandwagon with varying levels of success.
Pastel shades are a little less candy-like and
a little more down to earth. The turquoises, corals and bright greens
were featured in a lot more moderation, and more frequently as solid,
striking hues rather than dizzying designs or colour blocks. While
black continued its winning streak as the new black,
ivory and silver grey were neck-and-neck for the title of the
new white, though white saw a bit of exposure. And while we
are on the subject of new, lace is turning out to be the new
embroidery, though some savvy stitching (but in much smaller
doses) are finding their way into some collections, like Sue Wong.
Gen Art's unofficial start to the party,
though not as press-friendly or party-like as it had been in past
seasons, did show a few signs of maturity. Exquisite sculptural
shoes from Marcello Toshi Creazioni were showcased in an
artistic setting with the talons mounted like fresh fruit just waiting
to be plucked. Making them all the more ripe were their wearable,
sexy colours and walk-worthy heels bringing the 40s
silhouette into the 21st century. LD Tuttle also put their
earthier shoe-wears on display: think of them as Birkenstocks graduating
from charm school and dumping their hippie devotees for the ladies
who lunch crowd.
The runway show was more misses than hits. Men's
like Anzevino & Florence were evoking Mystery Science
Theater 3000 responses from the back rows, Fremont's
line was a little unfocused (souped-up Abercrombie gear for the
guys and baby dresses for the girls. Nobody over 30, please) and
Katy Rodriguez was stuck in an 80s bubble (specifically,
those skirts from 1986. A little of that trend indeed does go a
However, when there was something good, it was
great. Crispin & Basilio and Trasteverine offered
up feminine, classic and elegantly tailored looks perfect for blue-jean
girls ready to grow up to sophisticated classics without losing
their youthful edge. The lines were feminine without being frilly.
one admirable thing about this very spare, stripped-down edition
of Mercedes-Benz Los Angeles Fashion Week is that the planners and
powers-that-be did not overdose on designer jeans. When the premium
denims did rear their pretty blue heads, there was some artistry
put into the shows (as opposed to the Daisy Dukes-and-boob displays
of previous seasons). Evisu (right), using a Tokyo
theme, put their spring collection on display as streetwear the
way savvy Japanese youth would wear them. Although the ultra-skinny
legs and tiny tops will clearly fit a limited number of real-life
bodies, kudos need to go out to the producers for taking that extra
step to show people how versatile denim can be. Life & Death,
the new line from the creators of Antik Denim, pushed the
boundaries of cotton with their edgy and earthy separates.
Sue Wong's show, as usual, delighted fans
and fashionistas with a lighter but no less satisfying spread of
wearable, flattering cocktail dresses and gowns. Spring 2007 was
a departure for her, as several of her themed sub-collections were
better suited for afternoon weddings and cocktail hours than for
black ties and charity galas. For dresses in the very sweet Country
Cousins group, floral embroidery suggestive of hand-sewn hankerchiefs
replaced her usual beading, while the Fiesta group brought
the vibrant look of Mexican tiered skirts and peasant blouses uptown.
The 60s-inspired Chelsea dresses represented the
show's most exotic venture with over-the-top design and colour that
made it appear is if she were channeling Roberto Cavalli and Versace.
The Sue Wong most people know and love made a brief appearance in
the Diamonds & Platinum section, although the beading
and sparkle was applied with a little more restraint. While her
show was less theatrical, ultimately, what she had to offer were
fresh new ways to appreciate her signature style, and for more occasions.
Meghan, meanwhile, dropped Fabulous
from her moniker. Ironically, the collection was one of her most
fabulous to date. Flowing silhouettes, sexy (but not too overdone)
embellishments and gorgeous soft-yet-vibrant colours replaced the
more aggressively trendy affects of her previous shows. Although
the No-Tel Motel theme and saucy bellmen were entertainingly
provocative, the dresses and tunics serve up a very subtle form
of va-va-va-voom sex appeal: sheer and floaty, but still leaving
something to the imagination.
nearly as successful was Kushcush (right), which is
at once stuck in the 1980s groove (with the overly cutesy
puff sleeves, tiers and motifs easily traceable to 1981, the no-man's
land of style falling between disco and new wave) and the notion
that LA is all about youthful style.
In fact, this quirky collection pushed the "youthful" idea too far,
especially when many of us realized we wore those exact same garments
in middle school, right down to the heart and rainbow necklaces.
Scarier still, the same size garments were fitted to adult (though
thin) figures. After a promising début a few years ago, Jennifer
Nicholson also erred in the direction of high-concept 1980s
period costume with a brief, wacky display of baby doll dresses
suggestive of Betsey Johnson. However, even Betsey Johnson had toand
didgrow up, as her looks for the most part matured with her
Balans and Thrive, were also very
concept-y presentations of clothes somewhat limited in scope. Balans
models were made-up and assembled in a very 1979, Studio 54 kind
of way, yet very deconstructedas if they were walking out
of the famed disco at 6 A.M.
or got into a catfight with Steve Rubell for not letting them in.
A muted palate of shades was offset by deliberately wrinkled and
slightly frayed pieces tailored for lithe frames. The more successful
Thrive, meanwhile, focused on all the different ways filmy
and opaque fabrics could be layered, some to a very attractive effect.
However, the cuts call for mostly lithe frames to carry off the
line's postmodern architectural flair.
Louis Verdad also took chances, but many
of his risks paid off. Like Wong, he moved away from his all-out
extravaganza of special-occasion dresses and suits and into new
territory with clean, edgy and piecey separates and dresses suited
for daytime. There were clear hits of 70s and 80s
sensibility, along with kitschy Vidal Sassoon-style mid-60s
hair and a touch of Courrèges and Pierre Cardin, yet much
of it did work. Corey
Lynn Calter made clever use of lace, crochet and layering
fabrics, infusing visual and tactile attitude into her dresses,
trousers and jackets for a look that is at once creative but "wearable"
for a variety of body types.
Dressed to Kilt event
Corey Lynn Calter