THE WILDER WEST
THE GEN ART FASHION SHOW MAY BE A HIP NEW YORK IMPORT, BUT MANY SAY IT’S SET APART BY A CERTAIN FUNKY FLAIR.
Los Angeles Fashion Week opens Nov. 1 with Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion, the annual nonprofit showcase introducing lesser-known design talent to retailers and press.
Although Gen Art is an import from New York — it began there as a way to promote newcomers in fashion, film and the visual arts — it soon expanded to Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1995 and 1996, respectively. According to show producers, the Western editions seem to allow for greater freedom of expression.
“We push the edge a little bit more in L.A. because we can,” said Megan Griffith, Gen Art’s West Coast director, noting this is the fourth edition here. “In New York, there’s a stuffiness on the runway. It’s much more conservative because they feel they have to compete with the major houses. I hear from the sponsors that the event and crowd here is much more fun.”
This year’s Fresh Faces on the runway are (designers in parentheses): O Maillots de Bains (contemporary swimwear by Kirsten Ehrig), Corey Lynn Calter (women’s wear by Corey Lynn Calter), Development (contemporary women’s wear by Phillip Lim), Josh and He Yang (contemporary women’s wear by Josh Grenell and He Yang), Rami Kashou (contemporary women’s wear by Rami Kashou), Martin Martin (contemporary women’s wear by Eric Martin and Diane Moss-Martin) and Shawn (young contemporary women’s sportswear by Johanna Logan) and Eisbar (men’s wear by Bobby Benveniste and Kiernan Lambeth).
The accessories installations feature the works of belt and handbag designer Tres Flores (Leslie Melvin, Amy Lou Stein & Leslie Napoles), Pent MFG (Ryan Paravecchio), Monika (Monika Matiss) and handbags from Hand Maid (Michelle Frantz).
The venue has always had appeal for new designers because of its access to top-notch fashion press and Hollywood stylists and celebs who appear on the host committee.
And in the process, some of Gen Art’s past Fresh Faces have become well known. Chaiken & Capone and Rebecca Danenberg were featured in 1996. Michelle Mason and Eduardo Lucero were profiled in 1998. Grey Ant and Alicia Lawhon stole the show in 1999. The selection committee comprises Los Angeles buyers and market editors.
Just as prestigious is the host committee, which this installment includes film actress Dominique Swain, “NYPD Blue’s” Garcelle Beauvais; pop artist Nikka Costa; designers Henry Duarte and Leon Max; socialite/fashion enthusiast Paris Hilton; actress/Tim Burton muse Lisa Marie; vintage guru Cameron Silver and and American Rag’s Margo Wertz. About 1,500 guest are expected to file into downtown’s Los Angeles Theatre, an historic movie palace at 615 South Broadway. Festivities begin at 8 p.m. with a cocktail reception. Tickets, at $40, can be purchased online at genart.org.