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Ready for Takeoff 

Thursday, Oct 20 2005
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GenArt, highly respected indie incubator of new talent, isn’t above putting on a boozy Fashion Week bash, and the 8th annual Fresh Faces in Fashion fete at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar was no exception. Cocktail servers roamed the room with trays of pink drinks made from a fruity liqueur called X-Rated, while the buzzing crowd looked at jangly, one-of-a-kind jewelry by Sid Vintage and ’40s- and ’50s-inspired footwear by Satine’s Jeannie Lee and Sophia Banks.At “five minutes to showtime,” my pal Diggie Diamond and I settled into the front-row seats we scored (along with loaded gift bags) at the last minute. The celeb turnout was rather low, but Diggie confirmed my sighting of Ray Romano. Designer Jeremy Scott, who is still rocking the mullet, bless him, was directly across the catwalk with a hot date. “The Jays” — Manuel and Alexander — from America’s Next Top Model were seated beside a gaggle of hair-sprayed, aspiring reality-show starlets. After a brief introduction by the event’s MC, Elisabeth Rohm, who read her lines straight from a piece of paper, the house lights came down. Eight designers in all were chosen by a committee of fashion editors and influential retailers, and the looks shown for Spring 2006 ran the gamut from frumpy to fabulous. The highlights included Hazel Brown, who took the recent peasant trend to its extreme with hand-sewn tattered tops, elegantly cut burlap, and leather-and-muslin gowns that would have looked right at home on Joan of Arc. “I’m not a fashion person,” said Hazel Brown’s pretty, petite designer, Ali Blankley. “I’m more inspired by history books.”Apparently, swimsuit designer Katnic was also inspired by historical figures: Ivana Trump and Patsy from Ab Fab, to be precise. “Is this swimwear or partywear?” asked Diggie with a grin, as the first model strutted out in a fringed, Rasta-toned one-piece accessorized with gaudy sunglasses and gargantuan shell earrings. One outrageous leopard number was so skimpy that the model was a walking advertisement for her bikini waxer.Fancy Pony Land’s Crayola-bright appliqués were fun and youthful without being childish, and Carol Young’s architecture background shone through in her Undesigned line, especially in the sculptural bustle on her ivory bridal ensemble. Bon & Ging’s muted tones and loose-fitting frocks had a plainness that’s hard to pull off if you’re not Miuccia Prada, while Geren Ford’s silk Riviera wear would benefit from some fine-tuning. As one would expect from a line that is already carried in upscale stores like Aero & Co. and Fred Segal, Franny’s collection was polished and covetable. Known for its buttery, tailored leather, Franny’s branched out into silk and jersey for spring. The hottest look was a ruffed black leather jacket worn with black satin shorts for a roller disco–meets–Helmut Newton vibe. The biggest crowd pleaser by far was the North Hollywood menswear collective Elmer Ave. As the New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis” cranked, pretty rocker boys with pencil mustaches and oily, silent-movie-star, marcelled ’dos strutted out in vintage suits splashed with crosses, anarchy symbols and clever spray-painted stripes. “We’re just poor punk rockers making the clothes that we want to wear,” explained Collin Pulsipher, one of the four men behind Elmer Ave. The clothes weren’t especially original, but that didn’t matter to Jay Manuel, who pronounced Elmer Ave. his next top designers. “I loved everything about it,” Tyra’s sidekick said backstage. Amazingly, he looked just as perfect as he does on TV, with his Whitestrip smile, bleached-blond coif, tawny makeup and suit by Rock and Republic. His companion, Top Model’s resident-trannie trainer Miss J. Alexander, was wearing “a little five and dime, a little H&M, a little NYC Peach...” “Why don’t you tell them what kind of underwear you’re wearing?” Manuel suggested.“I’m not wearing any,” he/she replied.As the revelers dispersed, we went into the Acura “VIP lounge,” where, naturally, bottles of X-Rated were being served. A model who had walked for Katnic sat alone in the corner, examining one of the fake votives that dotted the space. Slowly she poured her cocktail into the candle. Party over? Not quite. “Happy Yom Kippur!” called Gaudy PR’s Avo Yermagyan, who kissed me on both cheeks and insisted he would send me a handcuff belt like the one he had on. “Trust me, you need this belt,” he said.Actually, no, but can you get me the name of that waxer? For complete coverage of Fashion Week, check out the L.A. Weekly blog, The Style Council.

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Reach the writer at steffien@earthlink.net

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