LOS ANGELES — Spotting a marketing op, a handful of casual, lifestyle-driven brands took advantage of the buyers and media in town for fashion week to stage events of their own.
Orange County-based action-sports lifestyle lines Hurley and Split hosted events a mile apart at Hollywood hot spots Falcon and El Centro, respectively. Both showcased fall, which for this category was already written at the ASR and MAGIC trade shows, so the events tended to emphasize the party over the fashion.
“We wanted to make a further statement about our brand,” said Bob Hurley, citing buyers from Jack’s Surfboard in Huntington Beach, Calif., to Fred Segal here among the 400 guests crammed into Falcon. Shut out because of occupancy limits: a few editors, buyers — and, he cheekily added, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. A larger venue is being considered for next season, and Hurley said he wouldn’t rule out exploring the formal program at Smashbox Studios. “But it’s fun to have the mayhem,” he added.
“Mayhem” is a mantra — and a well-served marketing device — at Rock & Republic. Following last year’s late-night show at Smashbox Studios, where free beer was spilled on the runway causing models to slip and slide, the denim brand and sponsor Cadillac moved the party to supersized Hollywood nightclub The Avalon, complete with a mini concert by Cardboard Vampire.
Before a jammed house that included Damon Dash, Taryn Manning and Dan Akroyd, designer Michael Ball sent out bad-boy Tommy Lee, wild heiress Nicky Hilton and big-haired models in a very black, very leather collection. Aside from predictable rocker-chic of leather bandeaux and microminis, fake-fur jackets and fuchsia boas, standouts included a motocross jacket with an iron cross and the great-fitting, dark-rinse denim that put the brand on the map — and on a rabid celebrity clientele.
Who cares if Gwen Stefani and Cameron Diaz — who have jeans in the line named after them — didn’t show up? The entertainment chat shows and photographers did, and a plug on local network news affiliates and E! was all it took.
Los Angeles being a much smaller pond than New York, several lines turned out to bask in a larger piece of the fashion week sun.
Custo Barcelona and Heatherette reprised shows that had bowed in New York. Readying to sign a lease on one or two of four locations now under consideration in Los Angeles and Orange County, Custo Dalmau said staging a show as part of fashion week — and flying in Alek Wek and several models from New York — was “important to show Los Angeles and Hollywood the line is about more than T-shirts.” It was a preemptive strike at publicity for the Spanish label, since there was no mention of the retail rollout at the event.
New York-based Lady Enyce skipped its hometown altogether, saving fall for the Mercedes-Benz program because of growing hits on its Web site from West Coast consumers and as an extension of the spring print campaign photographed in a desert outside Los Angeles. A so-early Eighties soundtrack of Joan Jett and Ozzy Osbourne played as a similarly referenced wardrobe of big hair, studded belts, lightweight graffiti-printed bomber jackets and skinny black jeans was strutted out on a glossy black runway.
While the shows in general reflected more of the city’s young designer and designer-contemporary businesses, the casual basics fare that has defined the state’s style also took a turn in an effort to stand apart from the pack at the downtown showrooms.
Sanctuary returned this season with its signature staples — such as the tux-striped cotton pants and zip-up windbreakers designed to stuff into a backpack for a weekend beach getaway — with a more global perspective called “Travel Junkies.” Those favorite staples were translated into washed satins for a night out, and second-skin hoodies were screened with “Amsterdam,” “Tokyo” and “London.”
But in the case of fashion week, it’s L.A. that’s calling.
— With contributions from Faye Hanson