LIVE FROM L.A.
LOS ANGELES — THE TERM RUNWAY WAS LOOSELY DEFINED BY THE NEW WAVE OF L.A. DESIGNERS WHO SHOWED DURING FASHION WEEK. A DOWNTOWN ALLEY, ART GALLERIES AND A CHINATOWN BOUTIQUE WERE SOME OF THE VENUES THEY CHOSE, AND THESE OFFBEAT SPOTS WERE IN KEEPING WITH THE LATEST CROP OF IDIOSYNCRATIC LOOKS THAT ARE REDEFINING THE WEST COAST LOOK.
Michelle Mason: To a packed house, including actress Franka Potente of “Blow,” Michelle Mason delivered a stunning fall collection in her downtown gallery space adjacent to her atelier. A palette of strong neutrals served as a base for her continued fascination with both the Victorian era and haberdashery styling. Men’s shirts were banded at the waist and elbows with black elastic, and pants were wide — whether long and cuffed or left raw-edged and cropped for a modern-day culotte. Suits were abundant, appearing in several renditions: full-skirted in khaki corduroy, sleek wide leg pants in ecru leather and a black wool double-breasted jacket paired with a knee-length wrap skirt.
Alicia Lawhon: The Big Foot Lodge looks like something off Highway One in Big Sur, and that’s exactly what Alicia Lawhon was aiming for when a mix of dancers and “poseurs” with hair swept up in mohawk-style ‘dos square-danced before getting down to the business of walking the line. It was homegrown to the avant-garde extreme, as was the fusion of denim, corduroy, cotton twill, antique lace, recycled leather and vintage fur. Lawhon manipulated the texture of a black leather blazer by machine-washing it, and she cut out the front panel of a blue denim circle skirt, replacing it with a pleated piece of paler denim that fell slightly longer than the hem. Touches of military along with more feminine accents of chiffon and lace contributed to the assemblage of ideas, textures and shapes. Individually, there were some truly original ideas — the wide mink necktie, for example — that could work into a modern wardrobe.
Magda Berliner: More art installation than fashion show, Magda Berliner presented a reprise of her New York debut — which ran in fast and slow speeds on a monitor — in the ski chalet-like Hollywood basement bar North. The four models acting as mannequins sported the moustaches Berliner also used back in February in New York, but the cheeky designer has added a few more looks since then, including a soccer-striped knit dress with dropped princess waistlines that seemed oddly out of place for fall. Fitted, floral cashmere sweatshirts were a departure from previous seasons; not so a pigskin halter with diagonal pintucks that had all the off-beat Edwardian-meets-pirate sensibility we’ve come to expect from her.
Eduardo Lucero: If there was ever any question why Hollywood babes frequent the Beverly Boulevard boutique of Eduardo Lucero, it was answered when he staged his show here Monday night before a media mob of U.S. and Latin-American press. He sent out a parade of “Dynasty” divas with a beautifully draped group of basket-weave wool separates that would work just about anywhere; sleek, flamenco-style black lace dresses and sleeker corsets — some which looked more like constructed cummerbunds without the pleats — shown with split-leg trousers and floor-length cocktail dresses. Then, however, the line ran a confusing gamut of looks from a leather ruffled super mini to blinding sequined numbers befitting a studio head’s trophy wife.
Jared Gold: In a dilapidated alley in downtown’s Old Bank District, a seven-story-high colorblocked backdrop emblazoned with the designer’s signature black-eyed rabbit logo marked one of the more anticipated shows of the week. The quirky collection featured all of this city’s favorite wares — sweatshirts, T-shirts, jeans, full skirts and strapless gowns — but every last one of them was twisted to a Wednesday Addams-like perfection. Gold owned up to men’s wear, Victorian and even Seventies influences, although they were only faintly visible once he had put his stamp on them. Brooches studded his signature puff-sleeve cotton polo T-shirt, which he paired with a long, two-tiered Liberty-print floral skirt. Also worth mentioning are Gold’s accessories, such as the candy-colored logoed wool fleece zip-up legwarmers.
Cornell Collins: In his show notes, Cornell Collins waxed profound with a statement about “the individual of substance possessing the unerring calm to progress without compromise.” The designer, in fact, presented a technically impressive collection that drew on Asian and Elizabethan influences and a sophisticated color scheme. Chevron stitching added interest to a persimmon merino wool robe and a black wool kimono jacket with large pintucks on the sleeves worked beautifully with a matching silk organza top and printed wool skirt. The standout, however, was the dramatic black silk taffeta corset worn over a black mohair lace sweater and a silk taffeta bias skirt with a lopsided train.
Loy & Ford: Stefan Loy and Frank Ford have made a name for themselves in recent months with their groundbreaking Chinatown boutique (watch for a wave of designers to join the art galleries that have been moving in). There, they showcased their latest deconstructionist experiments to The Carpenters’ classic song “Top of the World,” prompting a sing-a-long among the crowd. Wool jersey was shirred and torn into shirts, sometimes featuring sweater sleeves or satin insets, that were paired with full cashmere or geometric-printed silk skirts. Among the more clever looks was a gray wool suit jacket with the body of a sweater pieced in as a drape at the neckline, while the sweater’s sleeves replaced the jacket’s original ones. Worn with a distressed cashmere A-line skirt, it looked great.
Freddie Rojas: Blink for just one second and you would have missed the scene jamming the lot behind the newly opened Rojas boutique on Melrose Avenue. Not that the boys and girls chock full of attitude and grouped in three mini collections would have allowed that. Rojas’s stab at kitsch with the black-and-white check New Wave “Cabaret” motif and ode to the World Wide Wrestling Federation were mildly amusing, but far from being as original as the gold-speckled Prince of Wales suiting — in particular, the slim fitting genie trousers tucked into ankle boots.