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Urbana Chappa A blend of cultures

Centre-stage in Los Angeles

Urbana Chappa and Ermelinda Manos take centre-stage at LA Fashion Weekend, and modern fashion design to extremes in the process, reports Elva Zevallos
photographed by Jon Malan

Given the dramatic impact of the designs of Urbana Chappa and Ermelinda Manos, a theatrical setting at Sunset Gower Studios was indeed the perfect showcase for these two designers on an unseasonably wintry Friday night in March.

If there was an element shared amongst Ermelinda Manos’s featured designs on her gorgeous Goth-like models floating down the runway, it was transparency. Set mostly against a colour palette of cream, ebony, and forest green, Ms Manos’s collection served to provide for maximum exposure—and that wasn’t always a good thing.

Transparency in fashion can pose quite the challenge in regards to actual wearability. Sometimes the risk is that transparency doesn’t work because functionality is completely compromised as exemplified by these two designs.

And sometimes transparency works brilliantly just like this:

One thing that can’t be denied is the craftsmanship that went into the creation of each outfit showcased from Manos at Sunset Gower. From the petals that made up the hem of the best-designed dress to the intricate lace designs of other outfits, everything in Manos’s collection on the LA Fashion Week stage was crafted by hand.

When interviewed by World News Wire Press, Manos described the physical work involved in creating this literally painstaking ready to wear line: ‘All hand-made, a lot of broken needles, a lot of blood everywhere. That’s what it takes.’ The end result was uneven in terms of how successfully one could actually wear the outfits that make up this particular line, but all of it was intriguing to look at.

The designer closing the show, Urbana Chappa, did so with boldness, grace and perhaps a bit of controversy. East meets west was the guiding force behind the design æsthetic of the Maison de Urbana fall–winter 2013–14 collection, and Miss Chappa acknowledged drawing upon her own diverse ethnic background (Persian, Black, and Spanish) to bring her artistic vision to fruition on the runway.

With such diversity of cultures serving as inspiration for this collection, Chappa’s challenge arose: how do you fuse cultural elements which are strong, sensual, and conservative and express them in fashion? Chappa shared her vision of this particular line as one that would show the truly strong parts of a woman’s body: her arms, legs, back, and most importantly, her eyes. This philosophy was beautifully manifested in all of the designs that Chappa selected to show at Sunset Gower.

Her raw materials of silk and Egyptian cotton were the savviest choices for this particular line because even though the designs served to cover much of the female body (sometimes from head to toe) the fit and flow of both were full-on sensual. There were so many stand-outs. These were my favourites.

I love how Chappa took an item that is traditionally conservative, the houndstooth business suit, and turned it into something so incredibly sexy by virtue of how well it embraces the curves on the model’s body. This was achieved without sacrificing function for æsthetics. While it is true that the pencil skirt does indeed narrow towards the calves in such a way that one might believe would be confining, nonetheless, the strategically placed slit in the back allowed for greater freedom of movement.

Inspired by the burka, and in keeping with the belief that a woman’s eyes hold so much power, Miss Chappa created the burqana.

This is a burqana jumpsuit. Beautifully hand-beaded and form-fitting just enough for a graceful silhouette. From the fiery ruby colour, to the cut that reveals a single bare shoulder, to the construction that has you take everything in but settle your attention on the model’s eyes, there is boldness in this design.

And with the blending of elements both east and west, there is beauty too.

Guests in attendance at LA Fashion Weekend were treated to open bar courtesy of Little Black Dress Vodka and Monster Energy Drink. That wasn’t the only bar that guests enjoyed. The Planet Salon Beauty Bar was on hand to provide touch ups or even complete hairstyling for some attendees as desired.

The Luxury Design Suite available to guests featured Stage Presents by American Idol contestant Kimberly Caldwell. Caldwell presented an eclectic collection of hand-made and knit bags and accessories. We were really impressed by the artisanship of Bling Designs by S. This design house offers an array of jewellery, cellphone charms, Iphone covers and accessories adorned with sparkling crystals in solid colours, and the signature leopard print pattern. •




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Elva Zevallos is a correspondent for Lucire.