SAN FRANCISCO — The fourth annual San Francisco Fashion Week focused on emerging Bay Area designers and their spring-summer 2008 collections.
The three nights of runway shows and other events, from Thursday to Saturday, underscored the appetite for independent designers. About 700 people paid $36 to $120 each evening to attend fashion week in the four-story atrium of the San Francisco Design Center.
Among others, the shows attracted buyers from Macy's West and at least a dozen boutiques in the city where local labels often begin cultivating their fan base.
"There is definitely a lot of design talent in San Francisco," Macy's West fashion director Tifani Wilt said after seeing the streetwear collection Dcepcion by twins Daniel and David Concepcion. Their collection was a send-up of shirtdresses, denim jackets and hooded knit dresses that Wilt described as surprisingly contemporary.
"It's an eclectic city; you have all kinds of fashion here, from Pacific Heights to Haight-Ashbury," Wilt said, contrasting one neighborhood of cashmere pullovers and Burberry strollers to another where hoodies with silk-screened graphic prints and the latest Vans skateboarding sneakers are the uniform.
Fashion week, started by local fashion and entertainment producer Erika Gessin and her Mystery Girl Productions, has evolved into a showcase for local talent. To encourage participation this year, Gessin lowered the basic entry fee — excluding the cost of models — to $1,500 from $2,500.
San Francisco has spawned several national and international fashion companies, including Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Jessica McClintock and Eileen West, as well as Esprit and The North Face. The Bay Area also has proved to be an incubator for successful contemporary designers who gained widespread attention by moving to fashion hubs. Their ranks include Alexander Wang, Julie Chaiken, Derek Lam and Erin Fetherston.
Also among them is native San Franciscan Peter Som, the new creative director for the women's division at Bill Blass, and whose collection is sold at Neiman Marcus on Union Square here. On his Web site, Som credits his childhood in San Francisco, "a city known for its easy, relaxed sophistication," for influencing his design aesthetic, along with his architect parents.When Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy attended a luncheon at the same Neiman's this year, the sisters said they felt relaxed to be in the Bay Area, where they grew up and still recharge their creative batteries. "We can't wait to get back to San Francisco," Laura Mulleavy said.
Fashion week is " a good way to build a brand," said designer Kaushie Adiseshan, presenting for the second year, who sells her ready-to-wear with a brightly colored Bollywood flair in boutiques locally and in her native Mumbai, India.
Not included in the lineup of 15 runway shows were some established Bay Area designers who have shown previously, such as Lily Samii, Colleen Quen and Cari Borja, all of whom have different priorities this year.
However, to keep a hand in this year's event, Samii and Borja showcased some of their couture designs on mannequins in a special display that also featured Isaac Mizrahi costumes used in Bay Area performances.
Quen's nod to fashion week was in dressing a couple presenters like former Kirov prima ballerina Natalia Makarova. The dancer, who lives in the Bay Area, wore a Quen black and maris French chantilly lace minidress and opened the night by talking about costumes she's worn, including one painted on her by the late David Hockney.
Samii, whose gowns are for sale in Saks Fifth Avenue on Union Square and in her own showroom, said she supports fashion week, but observed that the venue has needed to expand its bench of emerging designers.
"What I want is the next generation of San Francisco fashion designers and the industry to flourish," Samii said, noting how design talent from three local fashion schools often leave the city after graduation.
Until the Eighties, San Francisco was considered a domestic apparel manufacturing hub, and then production went offshore. Although there is still a San Francisco wholesale fashion and accessories market held six times a year, the number of workers employed in the city's fashion design and apparel-making industry has dwindled to around 3,000, from around 15,000 a decade ago.
Samii has joined with Quen and others to start lobbying San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to spotlight fashion design in the same way he encourages development of high-tech, biotech, digital media and the food and wine sectors. One idea being floated with city officials is creating a fashion design district to combine atelier and store space along Sixth Street, south of Market Street downtown."We're trying to break the ice and show city officials there is a lot of fashion going on," said Quen, who wants to keep a foothold in San Francisco while expanding business to Paris, where with the help of investors she plans a fall 2008 off-schedule couture show.
The effort to enhance San Francisco's fashion standing is similar to more advanced planning seen in other former apparel centers like Chicago and Toronto.
"What we see is an opportunity," said Todd Rufo, an economic project manager in the mayor's office. "Until now we didn't have a real good sense of the depth, knowledge and caliber of fashion talent here."
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)