By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Photo by Larry Hirshowitz
We seem to be in the midst of a global L.A. fashion moment. Designers who once may have mumbled their West Coast address under their breath now declare it with the same insouciance so artfully reflected in their clothes. But not to worry, none of the folks quoted below will beat you over the head with their expertise — that’s just not L.A. style. Here are some thoughts on what is:
The whole general move toward casual dressing is coming out of L.A., the freedom and free-spiritedness, the do-whatever-you-want mixing and individualizing. Anybody can go out and buy Prada head to toe, but that takes zero creativity. Girls are much hipper here in terms of street fashion; what’s happening on Vermont is more interesting than what’s going on in Paris. The idea of sticking to one hemline length seems quaint now. I like the studied but disheveled look — I prefer to see someone in my clothes mixed with vintage or something of their own. What looks good to me now are printed pants, a bare-colored sandal, sunglasses with ombre lenses, and a great handbag.
L.A. fashion is definitely improving. Girls are dressing very, very sharp, very imaginatively these days. In the past, L.A. was primarily junior stuff and quick turnaround garments, but as far as serious fashion goes, no one looked to us for that. When I started out here I didn’t really know any other designers, but a lot of people are becoming designers now, like stylists. For whatever reason, the field seems a lot more accessible than it did four or five years ago. A lot of press are looking at Hollywood, at television, and celebrities are wearing L.A. designers where they used to wear Armani. They’re looking to turn up in something nobody’s seen before, which is why I have a lot of celebrity clientele, not because I’m such a great designer! I don’t have a fashion philosophy — I’m not that serious — but my influences are buildings, art, people on the street, people in traditional cultural dress. It’s interesting to me to take two elements that don’t go together and put them together — like Asian and Victorian, an Indian sari with a denim jacket.
There’s no expression like there is here. New York is so tight, they want labels, labels, labels, and in Paris too, and it seems so conservative. There’s no way you can beat L.A. for color and theme and style. Besides Japan, it’s the best place to be for fashion. Everywhere you go now you can see the roots of L.A. style — the knapsack thrown over the shoulder, the sporting look, California at its best. In New York, even when they want vintage, they want it to cost $2,000 and be totally rock ’n’ roll, but here we do the same thing for cheap. We’re into throwaway fashion. We don’t care. You can wear a fake-fur jacket and tennis shoes and be totally fine.
PHILLIP LIM, Development
The L.A. look has always been very sexy, very hip. I see more and more independent labels here coming into their own, because stylists are always looking for fresh new ideas, some alternative to Prada, something no one else is wearing. We’re small, we don’t have a thousand people out there pounding the pavement to see what’s hot, so we have to do what we feel. Fashion in general is very Hollywood, very starlet-centered. It’s not dark and avant-garde now — it’s tight leathers and sheer stuff, very Dolce & Gabbana. But a must-have item is a denim jacket, whether old or new, or tried and true. It just has to reflect your personality and look great.
JONATHAN MEIZLER, partner with
GERMÁN VALDIVIA in JonValdí
I look at L.A. as more of a non-fashion statement: People define themselves as individuals. There are definitely trends that people follow, but it’s more of a casual trend than in New York. Contemporary fashions and sportswear and lightweight stuff are kind of dictated by weather, and L.A. is more of a resort town. You have certain colors that prevail, and jeans and leather will always be around, and then you go from there. And there’s an overt, in-your-face sexuality that you find in L.A. Women here enjoy exposing themselves when they dress. A few seasons ago, it was no color, now it’s all color. After the ’90s, people were really ready for something different — optimism, wealth, e-commerce. continued
I picture L.A. with two different fashions: all the people who work in the ad business and movie production who wear a lot of black, a lot of leather, a “Hey, babe” kind of thing, then the people in Silver Lake, Beck or somebody, who wear faded corduroy Levi’s, a tight ’70s shirt with an old graphic. I dream of that look. I don’t think of things in terms of years. The body is the body, and what looks more flattering — low-cut pants with a slight flare for women — is always the question. Nowadays you can wear Gucci sandals with old corduroys, and that’s great. It’s much better than all the fashion rules my mother used to put out — no plaids with stripes, always match. There’s a lot more freedom now.