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Nightranger Looks Back at '09 Fashion and Music 

Thursday, Jan 7 2010
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View more photos in the "Nightranger: Year in Trends '09... Look Ma, No Pants!" slideshow.

OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE BOLD 
We’re not done looking
back just yet. This week, Nightranger calls out last year’s fashions, figures and fixtures, and makes predictions for 2010. Here’s to a trendy new year!

CROTCH ROCK
Gams and much more were on display in ’09 thanks in large part to Lady Gaga and her aversion to pants, shorts and, really, bottoms of any kind. The pop star’s beloved for her eccentric gear, but when we saw her back in March at (now rotted away) nightspot Apple Lounge in WeHo, she was still channeling Madonna’s S&M Sex moment in simple rubber bra and blonde bob. She went from futuristic sexpot to cartoon character in just a few months, it seems. Rihanna and Beyonce (if you like it, put a skirt on it!) did Bob Fosse–bare, too, but neither their affinity for flesh-colored nylons nor the pantyliner peep show translated to real people in the clubs, except on a daring few occasions ... and they were usually (untucked) boys at clubs like Mustache Mondays, Tigerheat and Full Frontal. Will real girls follow suit (outside of L.A.’s burlesque babe bounty)? Looks like we might all be trading in our leggings for leotards. This year: American Apparel stays in business.

click to enlarge The ubiquitous Lady Gaga, back in the day (meaning, March 2009) in WeHo
  • The ubiquitous Lady Gaga, back in the day (meaning, March 2009) in WeHo

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SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST
Courtney Cox
’s cute — if misleadingly titled — sitcom aside, the term “cougar” became an even bigger part of after-dark vernacular last year. Unfortunately what started out as a somewhat flattering term for a sexy, seasoned gal able to score hot young guys (think Samantha Jones) soon became a derogatory slag for desperate 30- and 40-something felines on the prowl. Maybe it’s a reaction to the Botox boom, which has made distinguishing age even tougher these days (on some), but either way, the term has taken a bite out of some egos, especially in Hollywood. (We’re happily hitched, but after getting called a coug by a presumptuous pecker at Club Bang, we’ve yet to visit that kit-pit again). This year: How about an animalistic term for the (dirty) older men in the clubs? We like “warthogs.”

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
Ya dug Friendster’s six degrees of separation connection charts. You had fun with MySpace page layouts and “top friends” lists. But when it came time to move on to the next social networking sensation, you were weary. Build up a “friend” list ... again? Last year, Nightranger belatedly became part of the Facebook race (as much a professional move as anything else) and we weren’t alone. Many of you finally succumbed to FB in ’09 as well, if only to know what the hell was going on around town. Many promoters and party peeps did away with fliers (real and e-mail) and Evites altogether thanks to Facebook’s nifty “Events” feature, which let invitees see who was going, who wasn’t, and sometimes more than that. (The comments section for our birthday bash at Bardot in August actually detailed a personal beef between two very well-known invitees ... talk about TMI). Though Facebook made tapping into what everyone was doing easier, it did make for some awkward moments (like meeting someone “new” at a club, who already “knew” you on the site). As for Twitter, we don’t think we’re alone in saying that we only signed up to follow The Roots?uestlove. This year: Ask yourself W.W.Q.L.D.?

HAIRY SITUATION
The Silver Lake beard (and we’re not talking about faux GFs at Akbar or MJs) was as ubiquitous as ever last year. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros’ Alex Ebert and his messiah mojo may have contributed to the woolly wonderland, but there was some light (skin) at the end of the fuzzle: whisker-lover Devendra Banhart debuted a clean-shaven face on his MySpace. This year: homeless no more, or a new breed of hipster manscaping.

SECRETS & LIES
MIA
, The Dead Weather, Vampire Weekend, Thom Yorke, Julian Casablancas ... can’t even recall all the “secret shows” that had scenesters scrambling about and calling in connections last year. We avoided them on principle and, okay, lack of patience. How is a show secret or unannounced if we’re all getting e-mails/texts/Facebook invites/Twitters about it? This year: a return to real mystery gigs with fake band names, map points like the rave days and unexpected venues, i.e., somewhere other than the Echo.

POP LIFE
A surprise show that really was: Prince’s amazing post-Oscars party and set at Avalon in February, which was shockingly roomy thanks to actually being kept hush-hush, save for hardcore Prince fansites. Nightranger got in and even got to dance onstage with the superstar — at 3 a.m. (he literally funked ’til dawn) — but it wasn’t until a few months later that the purple one attempted to take over L.A. for reals, with three consecutive sets in the same night at the L.A. Live music venues. Of course, after Michael Jackson died and both his memorial and film debut took place on the entertainment campus, the King of Pop’s memory outshined everything else that went down there, even the other purple (and gold) ones: the Lakers. This year: Prince comes back with a new record that both club DJs and radio — other than The Wave — actually wanna spin. Please!

DRESSED TO THE ’09s
We noticed a lot more red leather jackets out there after MJ passed, but other retro trends stayed strong after dark, too (acid wash, booties, torn tights). The headband finally died once Paris started sporting one (huzzah!), even if big ugly tees stayed strong/wrong. Designer collabs made it possible for recessionistas to partake in label-whoring (our fave was Anna Sui’s Gossip Girl–ie dresses for Target) even if some were impossible to get (H&M’s Jimmy Choo-zies) and others were just kinda meh (Charlotte Ronson’s line for JC Penney wasn’t nearly as zesty as the launch party at Chateau Marmont). L.A. Fashion Week was still trying to find itself, but some local designers did fine both with and without it. Jared Gold’s rainbow-bright Runway Train Tour’s first stop in L.A. had us blinded by its brilliance, as did his look-at-me Ribbon pin line with Clint Catalyst, featuring words like ”Epic” and “Hedonist.” Skin.Graft (which opened shop on 4th street downtown and hence became a fun monthly hub during ArtWalk) rocked the runway and gave everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to Adam Lambert a Mad Max-y edge for promo photos. Brian Lichtenberg’s body-conscious glam-rock frocks were a highlight on divas such as Katy Perry, and the catwalks of Los Angeles, too, especially when paired with Franc Fernandez’s otherworldly headpieces (no surprise, FF got a gig doing heady looks for Gaga in her “Bad Romance” video soon after). This year: Individualist L.A. style prevails and we all wake up and realize Ed Hardy was just a big, bad, bedazzled dream.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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