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Barack and Bondage, Crafting and Camel Toes: Nightranger's Annual L.A. Style Survey

Pinup-ish pretty looks went mainstream this year thanks to Katy Perry, but L.A. chicas (like these at Tigermask) have been working it for years.

Check out photos of 2008's style trends in the Nightranger fashion flashback slideshow.

 

The photo-ready looks seen on red carpets aside, for many L.A. clubbers getting ready to go out means a couple hours in front of the mirror, perfecting a look that suggests a couple minutes’ work. Not a new thing, we know, but in between the extremes (pricey designer glam vs. homeless druggie “chic”) there were definite styles and statements that emerged as Nightranger patrolled the party and music beats this year. And they weren’t effortless. This week, we offer a fashion flashback, featuring eight ’08 trends that ran the gamut, from inspired to tired.

Perry Pretty: Despite mainstream media’s take, Katy Perry didn’t single-handedly reignite bi-curious chick-on-chick lip smackin’ with “I Kissed A Girl” (Girls Gone Wild did that years ago). Still, KP (whom we saw donning flowers in her hair at Perez Hilton’s b-day bash, a giant pink bow at her Magic Mountain gig, and a circus-y getup at her Capitol Records record-release event) does deserve props for bringing her polished pin-up-style to the masses. L.A.’s rockabilly and burlesque babes have been working the red lips, coiffed locks and retro wiggle-wear forever, but Perry’s penchant for girlie glam — spruced up with 80s rock references — had mass appeal, even if cherry Chapstick didn’t necessarily see a spike in sales.

Party Lines: Our new prez’s likeness became more popular on t-shirts than Bob Marley and Che Guevara combined (at least, it seemed that way at the Sunset Junction Street Fair and similar outdoor events this summer). Of course, Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” design was this year’s iconic image, even trumping his Andre the Giant “Obey” logo recognition-wise. But it wasn’t alone. From “Mamas for Obama” tees to “Barack the Vote” and beyond, a once-problematic name soon became the perfect one for snazzy slogans and style statements. Unfortunately, VP candidate Sarah Palin’s updo, glasses and bozo blush combo got play, too, though thankfully that died after Halloween.

S/he’s Crafty: DIY handmade-frock-rocking femmes and fellas reigned supreme this year in Los Angeles, thanks to our flourishing craft community (Felt Club, The Little Knittery, Ghetto Gloss and Sirens & Sailors events). Whimsical jewelry with a cheeky flair (animals, cupcakes, etc.), exposed stitching on clothes, and crocheted hats and scarves were everywhere, especially after the temps started to drop. It was as if everyone had been hording their beanies and scarves and busted ’em all at once at the Weekly’s own Detour Festival, which may have been the dreariest day of the year weather-wise but featured music and style tips galore.

A Cinch: Corsets made a bit of a comeback this year on the pop-star front, with every lass except Britney working bondage-inspired gear and waist cinchers at this year’s MTV VMAs at Paramount Studios. Of course, at S&M-ish playgrounds like Hell,Bar Sinister and Bondage Ball, that was all old news, but the predominance of dom-ish looks on TV somehow made that dreaded walk in fetishy gear from our car to the Hollywood goth grottos a little less daunting. With so many weekend warriors sporting fishnets and bustiers like Christina Aguilera (channeling LadyGaga), it was easy for the real vamps to blend in.

Brass in Pocket: Forget about the skinny/flares debate, or keeping up with the latest denim brand du jour. In ’08, good ol’ Levi’s came back with a vengeance. Though we scored some nice L. Strauss swag at Anthem’s Coachella bash, we would’ve paid any price for the comfy stretchy skinnies we got and the looser boy-cut styles (seen oversized and cuffed on celebs from Robertson Boulevard to the Strip). The brand’s Warhol-infused Damien Hirst designs, which popped up at shops like Fred Segal and events like Paper mag’s recent L.A. party hub, only solidified its eternal hip status.

Superbad: Nerdcore and geek-chic have been around for years, but JuddApatow’s unconventional heroes and EllenPage’s Juno mojo last year took the ironic tees and bad hair out of the basement bedroom and into the clubs this year. Frizzy hair, ill-fitting shirts, runny eyeliner (on gals), and horrifying pairings like sweat socks and sandals, fringe with terry cloth, etc., were only too familiar at clubs like the Echo and bars like the Cha Cha Lounge. Sometimes it was refreshing, but mostly it was ridiculous.

Bauble Heads: The heavy hoop earrings of last year may be on a little hiatus, but ginormous jewels were still prevalent — they’ve just moved a bit south. Big, bold necklaces — from Mr. T–style gold chains and familiar rap-star bling to plastic Wilma Flintstone beads — wrung necks aplenty, a trend even fashion mags touted this year. Our favorites? Campy purse-size pendants we saw during L.A. Fashion Week and at boy-toy bashes like Mustache Mondays.

Get Physical: Brian Lichtenberg may have laid off the iridescent spandex in his last collection (seen on Box 8’s runway shows), but workout wear still soaked up L.A.’s nightspots thanks to omnipresent American Apparel stores and ads (and maybe even the sporty streamlined getups seen at the Olympics). The legging once again led the gym-ish looks (camel-toe be damned), the shinier the better. Though they didn’t always work on the dance floor, there was one irrefutably appropriate place to rock AA’s butt-baring metallics: Ryan Heffington’s Sweaty Sundays and Wet Wednesdays dance classes in Silver Lake (www.myspace.com/sweatysundays), which Nightranger recommends as a great way to kick off that resolution to get in shape this year. Happy New Year, ya’ll. Cant wait to see what you’ll be wearing and daring (and doing and dancing to) in ’09.


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