By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Would you wear that?” I ask the importer, regarding the coffee-filter dress.
“You’re kidding me, right? Would you?”
There’s a surprisingly good quantity of stuff I or almost anyone in the proletariat could wear that showed at Fashion Week. (This would decidedly not be the case at Paris Fashion Week, where it’s a Balenciaga gown or down payment on your house.) The new line Crispin & Basilio, by Donny Barrios, has a fresh, clean, elegant, slightly preppy yet laid-back air perfectly suited to the SoCal lifestyle — it’s ripe to be ripped off by Banana Republic if he’s not careful.
Samora unveiled a spring-in-Paris-themed collection I’d imagine on young-at-heart divorcées contemplating a European sojourn. Samora’s line has pleated dresses with tight bodices, and full, swingy skirts. Models preen in high-waisted pencil skirts and flouncy organza blouses with little frilled collars.
For men in touch with their inner Gatsby, Elmer Ave has sleek vests, pinstripe black skinny jeans and tailored jackets anarchically spray-painted. Their “rebel” models flip off the pile of photographers at the runway’s end and send text messages on cell phones while on the catwalk.
The showiest show of the season, however, belongs without a doubt to Christian Audigier, king of the Ed Hardy clothing empire and the force behind the Von Dutch brand. He’s a master showman. Models walk a runway lined with live grass. Two British guards with big black pouffy hats stand at attention, then burst into dance. Models in distressed, screen-printed, blinged-out, shredded jeans strut in top hats with massive Great Danes in tow. Children wave American flags. Heidi Klum, watching with a serious expression from the front row, smiles enigmatically when a girl in black sequined leggings stomps out.
A cloud of glitter explodes, and Emperor Audigier appears onstage. That he’s come up with a way to sell a basic hoodie for $300 is testament to his genius. Depending on your level of cynicism, the entire circus act either represents everything wrong with American decadence, commercialism and excess ... or is a jolly good time. I’m pretty cynical, so I think it’s both.
Fashionistas in Training
After Amelia Toro’s show, 13-year-old Isabella Aviles, who’d been sitting quietly in the back row, informs me that she is pleased by the clothes she’s seen today. The languorous flowing chiffon trousers and shift dresses fluttering like giant monarch butterfly wings in Toro’s collection also seem to please Davis and Dean Factor, who slip into the seats in front of me. Isabella’s mother is a designer, so she grew up around fashion. Currently, Isabella is not so much a purse girl as a shoes-and-dresses girl. Though she isn’t wearing it today — having opted for a simple black trapeze dress and black ballet flats — she owns a Marc by Marc Jacobs dress, so, finances permitting, her foray into haute couture can’t be too far off. Other little fashionistas in training nervously mill about, like the blonde who couldn’t be more than 14 yet proudly carries her pale-pink Prada purse on bent arm, label turned conspicuously out. They’re unfailingly gangly, clear-skinned and pretty, and, if genetics play out as they hope, will remain so. Though I worry about them, too, those ticking time bombs of anorexia.
Your New BFFs
You get to recognize faces. Then personalities. Then preferences. “We went from not knowing each other to BFFs,” says one woman to another as they sit. After each show, I’d inevitably find myself in Smashbox’s central lounge, with the same few people, a regular lunch-time gang, debating the merits of one designer over another. We’d weigh heavy on things like which of Kevan Hall’s gowns are too prom-y, or whether Whitley Kros’ clothes are chic or sloppy, or if the spray-painting on Elmer Ave’s military jackets was overdone, or whether Lana Fuchs’ last several dresses — the ones with rose-shaped pillows sewn onto them — were avant-garde or ridiculous (I’m going with ridiculous). But I’m willing to fight to the death for her coffee-filter dress.
Fashion Week is a five-day (or, if you include the pre- and postevents, a 15- or 16-day) stamina test. Even the hardiest of goody-bag whores struggle at the end. They heft a largess of free lip gloss; free T-shirts, scarves and camisoles; free eyeliner; free nutrition bars; free lotions, sunscreen and spray-on tanning liquid. As a buyer from Fred Segal notes while I wedge myself exhausted into the sofa seat next to her, “It’s open bar and open makeup.” She chooses the $400 designer jeans the Hollywood socialites snatch up like candy, but she herself can’t wear any of the Fred Segal clothes, being of hearty Mexican stock and a size 1X. Instead, she shops at Macy’s. The fashion world is nothing if not a study in irony.