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
Between shows, people browse the free copies of California Apparel News, which declares the cutting-edge trends to be “Boys Club” and “World Style” and “the plaid shirt.” After that, I start noticing plaid shirts and world style everywhere, though not so much boys club (mainly because I can’t quite figure out what it is).
The Future Heretics show is fun: everybody, VIPs and all, sitting on aluminum benches like at a football game. The whole shebang happens in a cozy downstairs ballroom with parquet floors and mirrors à la Palace of Versailles.
Oh, yes, the kids have taken over, and from the looks of the party girls hooting and carrying on across the aisle, they’ve raided the good stuff from Mom’s jewelry box and thrown on Dad’s tuxedo coat with nothing but tights and stilettos. The Heretics are doing a kind of preppy, streetwise, big-hot-mess thing. I can’t stop staring at this one pair of svelte black pants with Age of Innocence Edith Wharton–esque buttons up the back of the ankle. Hot!
I also can’t stop thinking that the designer must have had a really good time with bleach. There isn’t a stitch of denim that hasn’t been dribbled, or splashed or sprayed with the stuff. You’re sure to see at least one of the Heretics’ skull T-shirts (with the slogan “Fuck Skulls”) out and about in hipster enclaves soon.
There is more plaid at Laeken’s show. It manifests here in the form of jumper dresses. You know that game where you try to guess the designer’s references: Is that plaid dress more Holly Hobbie or Little House on the Prairie? Is that leg-of-mutton sweater sleeve more ’70s psychedelic or neo-Victorian? I’m deep into these kinds of thoughts when a model sashays by and the guy next to me, whose boyfriend did the styling for the Laeken show, exclaims, “Her walk is amazing! Unbelievable!”
It jolts me, that “unbelievable,” uttered so earnestly and enthusiastically. And I feel a little ashamed for grouching about the lack of goody bags, for noticing that they don’t repaint the runways perfect eggshell white after every single show. Who needs goody bags when you have a thumping bass line and a crazy crowd that couldn’t care less what Anna Wintour is wearing?
Yesterday’s Grai show at GenArt is still my favorite, but today’s martinMARTIN line is a close second. Can you grow tired of deconstructed black goth ball gowns? Sure. Six or so shows later. But I have a soft spot for goth. It’s melodramatic. And silly. Especially because it tries so hard not to be.
The martinMARTIN version of goth is tattered Victorian-maid aprons, leather tailcoats, men with creepy black-leather pathologist gloves (the better to dissect you with!), dudes in skirts, and menswear on innocent little girls. The Eurasian models coming down the runway are superyoung-looking. Earlier, I snuck backstage and asked one how old she is, and she said, in a hesitant way, “Um, I’m 18.”
The Skin.Graft shindig is the only one in which the audience is a better show than the actual show. There are vintage feathered hats, big honking platform stilettos, black lipstick, fur coats ... and that’s just the guys.
The catalog explains the aesthetic well: The fall collection “is inspired by neo-Victorian royalty and overly tarnished motorcycles smashing into each other at high speeds.”
It’s the last runway walk of the night, but the energy is up, up, up. People are dancing in the aisles. We even had an unexpected star sighting: Margaret Cho (voluptuous, tattooed). Who knew she rolled with the goths?
Lastly, if you had any doubts, Doc Marten combat boots are definitely back. Resign yourself to it.
The final day. It’s nice to see that the two Taiwanese sisters who design the Battalion line are back and bohemian as ever. They showed at GenArt last year. This season, their theme is “The New World” (appropriately enough), and they’re dressing women in French military coats, Lewis and Clark–inspired cargo vests, sliced-up Pocahontas tunics, and tricorner hats.
Everything is impeccably tailored. I mean, can those girls sew a bamboo jersey jodhpur-type stretch legging or what? Not a ripple or bumpy seam in sight. The materials are eco-friendly — the leather and fur are “veggie” leather and fur. Not killing animals for beauty is always a plus!
Some conversations about beauty are hilarious. “Do you see any little hairs on my face in this light?” the girl sitting behind me at the Sahaja show asks her friend. The Sahaja show, by the way, employs the hottest male models. Dark, beefy guys with bulging biceps, huge afros and eyeglasses. The rumply plaid shirts and cardigan sweaters remind me of items you’d pick up at the Gap — not necessarily a bad thing, where menswear is concerned — but then later on, two guests rave about them. Rave. So, it just goes to show how subjective this stuff is.