Style Counsel | 20th Anniversary Edition | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Style Counsel 

The way we wore

In March, 1979, the Weekly launched its first Style page with a profile of designer Mary Kay Stoltz, photographed by Matthew Rolston (he had to start somewhere). For the next 13 years, led by Vreelandesque visionaries Joie Davidow and later Gloria Ohland (a.k.a. Gloria O.), the Weekly chronicled everything from the rise and fall of Melrose Avenue, to trends and fads (loft living, roller skating, essential oils), to the business of fashion. We championed (mostly) local designers, but also looked to Europe and Asia, while rockers Axl Rose, Donita Sparks,
Inger Lorre, Courtney Love, Michael Des Barres; actors Winona Ryder and Juan Fernandez; and impresario Mario Tamayo all struck a pose, and helped us show off Style.

From "L.A. Fashion ’79," August 24, 1979

Fashion used to be a dead issue in L.A. We were too far from Paris to care what they were doing, and had left New York so we could stop worrying about looking chic . . . But times have changed. Women’s Wear Daily frequently devotes entire issues to California design. Many California designers are selling heavily to New York. The fashion establishment is quickly realizing that American design can no longer be exclusively defined by the New York collections. L.A. has created its own fashion aesthetic, and the rest of the world is buying it.

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The many designers living and working in L.A. are producing distinctly individual fashions, but they share some things in common.

They are influenced by our climate, which lets us wear clothes for fun more than protection . . . They are influenced by the Orient. L.A.’s Far Eastern cultural heritage is rich and inescapable — Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese. This shows up in the calligraphic hand-painting on T-shirts and jackets. It shows up in the Japanese trinkets and plastic toys that have become the new costume jewelry. It shows up everywhere. In fact, many of the best young L.A. designers are Oriental.

They are influenced by the rock culture. We are, after all, living in the record-industry center of the world . . The New Wave rock music of the ’80s is happening in L.A., and it is reflected in a new fashion aesthetic all its own. . . . The L.A. New Wave look borrows from Hollywood — Spandex, sequins, Day-glo colors . . .These clothes are a rejection of elegance — torn T-shirts, safety-pin necklaces. But they are an affirmation that getting dressed is a fun, un-boring form of artistic self-expression. By dressing in a highly artificial manner, these people are making a strong statement. It’s hard to ignore a guy with slicked-back fuchsia hair, black spandex pants, printed shirt, wing-tipped sunglasses and earrings . . .

California fashion is blowing across the country like a fresh breeze. It succeeds where the stiff shoulders and peplum waists of this year’s haute couture fail, and the fashion industry is coming to realize that it sells.

—Joie Davidow

FROM STYLE, July 11, 1980

It was one of those occasions that make me love L.A. The Beverly Hills beauties and the near beauties and the former beauties had gathered at Orsini’s, their blond hair expensively coiffed, their sculptured nails unchipped. Looks that only money can buy. Electronic Satie provided the perfect background music for the velvet couches, the imported wallpaper, the caviar canapes . . . Richard Tyler, the once-renegade fashion spirit, was doing a fashion show benefit for a chic charity — having risen from the L.A. avant-garde to design costumes for Allan Carr’s film Can’t Stop the Music . . . and now this. Tyler still has some of the best crazy ideas around, and the show was glorious fun — lots of great models, terrific choreography.

—Joie Davidow

Big Boy Medlin, writer, March 14, 1980

When asked to explain his fashion philosophy, Big told us, "I’ve always believed that if you get dressed to go out for dinner, you should spend more for the meal than you did for the clothes." He optimistically predicts that "in the ’80s, the mature abdominal region will be a mark of beauty in the male of the species."

—Joie Davidow

From "The Rise of Melrose," December 26, 1980

Melrose Avenue has gotten so tony and trendy, it’s starting to rival Beverly Hills. Mitsu Sato, co-owner of the Platoon Hair Salon, and Patrick Terrail of Ma Maison have even put together the Melrose Avenue Association, with a membership of more than 60 businesses and plans to launch a magazine called (are you ready for this?) West Hollywood.

—Hunter Drohojowska

From New Latino, November 27, 1981

Say you read it first in the L.A. Weekly. We have it on good authority that the next big fashion fad will be Latino-inspired . . . The pirates and poets have already begun to dance off into the wings, and it’s not impossible to imagine that Carmen Miranda and her zoot-suited admirers will dance in right on cue.

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