In what has become a clear fashion trope, jersey was exploited to its fullest this season. Karanina designers Nina Firestone and Kara Smith, for example, took a minor departure from their usual fare of sexy tops for the single girl, and showed well-cut, Seventies-inspired jersey dresses in peacock blues and lemon yellows, a welcome change from the printed halters and bubble-gum bandanna tops of previous seasons. In Rachel Pally’s sophomore show, she sent out jersey in subtle bird prints over bright yellow, green and orange dresses. Somehow, it worked. And Iron designer Leejay Mintz went with a kaleidoscope of candy-colored prints on jersey. His cowlneck minis and tented halter tops, however, were unoriginal.
Meanwhile, Lady Enyce design director Simone Berry referenced jet-set destinations such as Miami, St. Tropez and the Hamptons for spring, and featured candy-color Ts, bold retro floral-print blouses and ruffled wrap dresses. Overall, Berry provided a focused lineup of what Lady Enyce does best — easy pieces for the bronzed babe who plans her trips to the world’s sunniest and sexiest spots. Shakti designer Jacquelyne Love, who happens to be the wife of The Beach Boys’ Mike Love, also went sexy and sunny this season. She showed ocean-blue capris and sunset-hued bikini tops that didn’t exactly merit a runway presentation, but there were some standout pieces, such as the sunshine yellow poplin pantsuit paired with a matching embroidered bustier or her sexy jersey romper with a playful chiffon skirt. Love’s wares may not be groundbreaking, but there were definitely a few good vibrations.
Elsewhere, Maggie Barry’s models looked like shipwrecked survivors washed ashore on the California coast as they came down the runway in ruched net dresses and pirate tops that looked unkempt and costume-y. Barry should have stuck to the simple and easy pieces that were actually wearable, such as the halterneck dresses in black and white. Cesar de la Parra (a former staffer at Bob Mackie and Nolan Miller) couldn’t make up his mind for his runway debut, as he sent out an unfocused collection of eveningwear that referenced everything from “The Valley of the Dolls” to contemporary minimalism. And New York-based designer Heike Jarick, who can be either hit or miss, couldn’t quite pull it off this time around. The boleros, kimonos and Victorian-styled jackets were beautifully constructed, but they didn’t have enough impact to balance out the awkward crinkled organza and silk jersey dresses and tops.
Gen Art: Gen Art gave a party on Wednesday night, complete with an airplane hangar venue, a fire marshal cracking the occupancy whip and, of course, a fresh-faced group of designers. Neely Shearer and Gordon Morikawa opened with Issho, which means “together” in Japanese. The duo teamed silk with lots of patterns — chevrons, circles and abstract animal motifs. There was nothing groundbreaking here, but it was definitely pretty, especially the taupe-and-yellow flutter-sleeve top and skirt.
Desanka’s Desa Fasiska took a more adventurous approach by dropping the waists on great silk and gauze dresses and sending out rompers with bronze piping and high-waisted jeans. Maryam Nassirzadeh, meanwhile, sandwiched cotton, silk and gauzy organza together and then quilted it all. On paper, this might sound scary, but in reality, it was interesting and wearable. The best in show: a rose-hued short-sleeved jacket worn with a printed lime silk camisole and beige cuffed shorts.
The crowd favorite was Todd Magill’s sophisticated Wyeth. A former partner in the Los Feliz branch of Steinberg & Sons and an Iceberg and Missoni alum, Magill knows how to make the seemingly traditional distinctive. He deconstructed a classic cardigan, for example, adding insets of floral-printed silk, and then livened up a pretty silk dress with a pleated bodice and raw hem. And for an Edwardian girl gone glad, see Claire La Faye, who at times went too literal with the theme, but hit her stride with the gold, cream and brown minidress with a corseted back.
The accessories crew offered the finishing accoutrements, including Christie Martin’s hand-painted silver jewelry and Kim White’s cute handbags created from vintage car upholstery.