BOXeight was back for their second season of "fashion installations" this weekend. What that means is models getting dressed and having makeup and hair done in front of the audience, photographers shooting and photo-editing on site, stylists primping and pinning and touching-up in plain view. Everything out in the open instead of locked away backstage behind a velvet rope. It means less bullshit, more artistry. Oh, and no runway.
Why did they do it like this?
Here's why. Los Angeles is screwy in terms of high fashion. Our runway shows get laughed at. Designers who show in places like New York and Paris and Milan turn up their noses at us. So instead of trying to play by pre-existing rules, the artist collective known as BOXeight went ahead and rewrote the rules.
"Los Angeles fashion is like the red-headed stepchild of the fashion world," says BOXeight owner Peter Gurnz. "We would spend all this time and money building up lesser-known designers and when they make it, they don't want to show here anymore. Runways in Los Angeles aren't effective. Designers don't get what they need to out of it. But this city has amazing talent. How do we help the amazing hair and makeup artists? How do we help the stylists? How do we help the photographers? I want to put ALL these people on the runway."
It's a fantastic idea. It's creative, deconstructive and has a sense of humor. And much more appropriate for Los Angeles.
Here are some of my favorite moments from Friday's "Boxeight Fashion Refocus" event:
1. Skingraft's Furry, Leathery Black Against Stark White -- They were all about mixing textures and shades of black. Their models faces were painted white with black smudgy eyeshadow and red lips, sort of like scary mimes.
2. The Light Bulb in Isabel Lu's Futuristic Steel Installation -- The model was holding a big light bulb while photographer Damon Kidwell shot her. Is that a thing in fashion photography now? Neat.
3. The Dog -- Okay, a fashion show with a dog running around randomly? Can you say awesome? This dog was super chill. It just mingled with the crowd, ate the occasional Popchip, watched the pretty girls, and got petted. That's a lot more than many of the men achieved in the same amount of time.
4. The Pregnant Model -- One of Skingraft's models was pregnant. They dressed her up in this intense harness belt and black sweater. The entire outfit said, "Don't fuck with my baby."
5. Photographer Ninelle Efremova's Crazy Energy -- She was the photographer for Funktional. She did lots of rolling around on the ground and kept saying, to the crowd of professional photographers and people with cell phones: "You guys want to be photographers? You go ahead and shoot this thing."
6. The Computers -- Every time the photographer would shoot, his or her photo would appear instantaneously on the screen. You know what else would be interesting? If everyone's photos would load onto the computer screen one after the other. Kind of like they do at those Twitter gatherings.
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7. Christian Audigier "Poison In The Water" -- Peter Gurnz, BOXeight's owner, hates what Audigier has done to fashion. "Slap a skull and crossbones on it and call it a day. Is that fashion?" he said. Lots of people love Audigier and the Ed Hardy aesthetic. Gurnz calls Audigier "the poison in the water."
8. The Weird Stuff Lying Around -- Like this mannequin head.