Photos by Michael PowersI admit that I was ready
to give up on L.A.s Fashion Week. Last year
at this time I questioned if L.A. even needed it a heretical view, I noted,
given that it had been only a year since we got our own big-deal sponsored week.
We got two in fact: New Yorks 7th on Sixth/Mercedes-Benz at the Standard, and
Smashbox at its Culver City studios (the two subsequently joined forces). The
shows in November didnt change my mind either. Even though Los Angeles has
long been a setter of trends for better and worse, from Edith Head, Rudi Gernreich
and Bob Mackie to Juicy Couture and Frankie B. as well as the countrys second-largest
garment manufacturer, theres still the sense that a designer hasnt really
made it unless he or she shows in New York or Paris. Which should be a laughably
provincial notion except that certain East Coast fashion editors have been known
to advise L.A. designers not to mount a presentation here.
This is one of the reasons our fashion weeks havent created the kind of buzz
that would make L.A. a must-see for press, buyers and stylists. And timing,
to some degree, is an issue: L.A. comes at the end of a long circuit that includes
New York, Paris and Milan, when many buyers have already written their orders.
More than that, however, is the critical challenge of getting a handle on L.A.s
notoriously eclectic scene from red-carpet dazzlers to thrift-shop chic to
boundary-pushing futurists. L.A. designers are a wildly independent lot who
dont play by anyones rules.
But the biggest problem has been quality. Although innovation and imagination
defines the best of L.A. design, you wouldnt know it from many of the designers
chosen by 7th on Sixth and Smashbox over the past few seasons. Its true that
some of our brightest talents cant afford to put on a show every season, and
I recognize that in order for our iconoclastic design scene to flourish, we
need an organized week of shows that includes some sacrifice of art for commerce.
But why did so many shows look like Old Navy? And dont even get me started
on the Fall 2004 show that consisted of dozens of hoodie-and-sweatpant ensembles.
Yes, cute sweatpants reflect a certain L.A. aesthetic after all, we gave the
world surf and skateboard looks just not one that needs a runway presentation.
But the rant stops here.
While I still miss the wild-style days of fanciful, independent shows Eduardo
Lucero in a parking lot using car headlights to light a show, Jared Gold presenting
his collection in a downtown alley, Michelle Mason in the Second Street tunnel
Im delighted to report that this months Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall
2005 at Smashbox Studios was the most polished and profoundly L.A. experience
yet. There were fewer shows (and fewer misses among the hits), a more carefully
considered and consistent lineup, and sponsorship deals that made it possible
for some of L.A.s leading lights to show, including Grey Ant, Magda Berliner
and Michelle Mason. There was a divine appearance by Vogues
And there was lots of attitude the theme of the week, as proclaimed by the
T-shirts worn backstage by Eduardo Luceros hair and makeup team, said it all:
Just make the bitch pretty.
So what will you be wearing this fall? No doubt something in brown maybe a
slim or full-cut skirt with a shiny turquoise or plum blouse. Lots of tweeds
and pinstripes. Pants will be low-slung and flared, or natural-waisted and skinny,
or high-waisted and full you get the picture. Or you will, if you join me
and photographer Michael Powers over the next eight pages for a backstage and
best-of-the-runway glimpse at the March madness and beauty that was Fashion
Week Fall 2005. Theres a lot of pretty coming.
(left): Goretti, (lower right): Edith Palm
Michael, Can You Hear Me?
Boozers, cruisers, schmoozers and the Beautiful People who love em in other
words, all the L.A. tribes cram the MOCA Geffen Contemporary for Gen Arts
rump-bumping Fashion Week kickoff The New Garde.
Oh, the humanities, I murmur to costume designer (and constant front-row companion)
Susan Matheson as we contemplate the impenetrable mass gathered around the first
installation Monica Goretti Behans line of slinky starlet wear which evokes
a decadent scene straight from The Damned.
I love the idea of fashion being presented in a museum at its best, fashion
is art but the combination of three separate installations and heaving hordes
makes this a bit of a logistical pickle. Well, better than a metaphysical one.
To top it off, I cant find my photographer, whom Ive only talked to by phone.
Is your name Michael? I ask every man I see carrying a camera. More than one
tells me, It is if you want it to be. Evidently, some of these guys dont
get out very often.
I never carry my cell phone with me an idiosyncrasy that drives everyone I
know crazy so I borrow Susans and call Michael. Who cant hear me over the
music. And so I become that L.A. type I loathe: the person who screams on a
cell in a crowd. At least I try to do it to the beat. And Ill find plenty of
other reasons to hate myself this week.
Meanwhile, Susan and I seem destined to see only the backs of the crowds (mostly)
well-coiffed heads as the weeks-old rumors about Anna Wintour attending Fashion
Week reach a fever pitch. But then Louis Verdad to the rescue. Not only is he
one of L.A.s most talented designers (and a Gen Art alum), but he knows how
to part a crowd like the Red Sea. He propels us from Goretti to the Edith Palm
exhibit, which involves stuffed deer in a kind of factory setting an oddly
beautiful and edgy environment that nicely reflects designer Sarah Aaronsons
finely detailed and playfully dark vision. (Full disclosure: I was on the Gen
Art selection committee.)
A woman next to us enthuses over the clothes it is the strongest collection
of the eve and mentions that she was Aaronsons childhood babysitter, and,
Theres Sarahs mom over there. Beaming, of course.
The real Michael catches up with us at least briefly hes off to go lens-to-lens
with the photogs on a platform in front of Konstantina Mittas Bytinaxxx display.
Spaghetti-Western bordello! exclaims Aero & Company owner Alisa Loftin. And
that about sums it up. Enough fabulousness for one night.