The L.A. runways were awash in cool sophistication this season as designers worked both the simple and the edgy, from structured suits to chic gowns.
David Meister: After eight years in business, David Meister finally put on his first runway show, and it was well worth the wait. He delivered his typical wearable basics in abundance — all a girl could want, from coats to knits to glam gowns — with a clear nod toward the trends established in New York and Europe. Cases in point: moody-hued bubble skirts worn with jersey tops, and terrific ribbed and engraved knits, all of which maintained clean lines for a stark look. Favorites included the shearling coats, a tissue jacquard smock worn with leggings and a premiere-worthy paneled stretch satin gown.
Collection Bebe: Bebe founder Manny Mashouf enlisted designer David Cardona and stylist Arianne Phillips to create the higher-priced Collection Bebe just in time for his company’s upcoming 30th anniversary this October. The new line’s ad campaign drops this month and features actress Mischa Barton, who sat in the front row alongside Anjelica Huston, Courtney Love and her daughter, Frances Cobain. They saw a finely tuned lineup inspired by, of all things, the tulip. Thus, intricately pleated silk jackets were paired with skinny pants, and chiffon blouses topped leather skirts layered with organza pleats. While the theme was handled deftly in most cases, the tricks of construction that Cardona always has favored sometimes overpowered the quiet sophistication of the collection.
Louis Verdad: Known for his theatrical, retro style, Louis Verdad took steps this season to diversify. He played the man/woman card throughout, for example, as in a slim pantsuit with a pleated panel of chiffon inset on the jacket’s back. And he showed heightened interest in wearability, as in the ruffle-trimmed cashmere turtlenecks and chic double-breasted coats. But at times, the designer couldn’t rein in his ideas and produced some overwrought pieces, such as the turquoise plaid cropped jacket with twill culottes inset with pleats.
Bradley Bayou: Bradley Bayou remains utterly fascinated with the flirty Fifties. This time, he gussied up some relatively simple shapes with lots of glitz, while managing to retain a certain chic, as with his allover beaded column. And at times he went for the unexpected — a deep red ballgown that featured a pleated satin bodice with a suede skirt; a classic Audrey Hepburn-style cocktail dress made of interlaced grosgrain ribbons. Overall, Bayou’s tightly edited collection maintained a nice balance between sex appeal and sophistication.
Juan Carlos Obando: In his strong capsule collection, relative newcomer Juan Carlos Obando presented smart clothes with a minimalist sensibility. His lineup featured androgynous suits with narrow trousers and structured, Sixties-ish A-line minis — all beautifully rendered. Though often austere, the mood never turned harsh, perhaps because Obando tempered his architectural elements with gentle details, such as the wrist-length gloves and knotted goatskin sandals.