With a procession of less-than-exciting designer showcases and a flailing economy in its wake — not to mention no central venue to call home since Smashbox ceased hosting shows last season — L.A. Fashion Week finds itself in a precarious position. The irony, of course, is that the closets in this city rival those anywhere in the world. The creative flair here definitely trumps cookie-cutter “chic.” Last week our faith in L.A. style was elevated by a slew of fashionable fetes.
RIP HER TO SHREDS
A decadent assortment of denizens was seen at the Chateau Marmont last Tuesday, where an early cocktail party/book signing celebrated The Stephen Sprouse Book. Details mag diva Annie Flanders and jewelry designer Michael Schmidt co-hosted, along with Bryan Rabin, which meant the mix saw many of our old clubbin’ cohorts (DJs Mike Messex, Joseph Brooks, Howie Pyro), seminal rock figs (Blondie’s Clem Burke and Frank Infante, Bauhaus’ Kevin Haskins, photog Paul Zone), fashionista flocks (bauble babe Tarina Tarantino, writer Merle Ginsberg), Factory-ites (Holly Woodlawn, Mary Woronov) and random celebs (Dita Von Teese, Courtney Love, Julie Newmar) — the latter staying for a postparty dinner. (Nightranger’s invite for that, like the one to Rabin’s 40th b-day bash the previous week, surely got lost in the mail.) The two-hour shindig satiated our frock-mongering thirst, though, especially chatting with charmer Michael Des Barres (who declared Sprouse’s work “the first fashion/rock hybrid”) and shutterbuggin’ with Ann Magnuson and Breaking Away actor Dennis Christopher. “He would have loved it, it really captures him,” Christopher said of the Warholian tome. He should know: He was a close pal and fellow “Halstonette” in the ’70s.
Though Sprouse is probably best known for his graffiti-splattered Louis Vuitton bags, the book shows his influence, from his Halston work to his shorn Debbie Harry stylings and his namesake line, famed for its street edge and ’60s-ish go-go-cage aesthetic. Author brothers Roger& Mauricio Padilha told us he inspired them to move to NYC and start their company MAO to promote struggling designers. “His work just makes us happy when we look at it,” Mauricio said. “If anyone else had done this book, we would have been so jealous.” Loaded with colorful pics and loving essays, the book is a coffee-table confection.
SHE’S IN PARTIES
BOXeight’s runway presentations at the Los Angeles Theatre downtown generated a more nouveau eye candy. Saturday’s shows were heavy on Gothic élan, deconstructed (Martin Martin) and fanciful (Skin.Graft), but woe-is-me wear has been done to death on the catwalk . all that was missing was Clove ciggies and notebooks filled with suicidal poetry. Still, we’ll take goth over grunge any day, and UNIF’sclosing presentation was more annoying: acid-wash jeans, Doc Martens and oversized tees put together in that questionably ironic Cory Kennedy way.
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We may not have coveted the clothes (see full runway reviews in Gendy Alimurung’s Fashion Week Diary, in La Vida), but we give the event an A for audaciousness. The crowd, specked with queens (Fade-Dra, Squeaky Blonde, Barbie-Q, Phyllis Navidad), plucky personalities (Project Runway alum/blogger Nick Verros, Margaret Cho — who’s getting “Guitarded at SXSW” next week) and clubsters (the boys from Rhonda),was decked out, and the bands were entertaining and eclectic. Carney gave hot looks and licks looking very Mick Jagger–at–Studio 54. During their set, an impromptu runway show broke out, in which the real trendsetters — photogs, BOXeight staff and random party peeps — pranced the stage with cocktails and bottles in hand. L.A. Fashion Week finally felt free of New York’s shadow. Hopefully subsequent fashion events this week at MOCA and for CoLA will do just that.
An unaffiliated happening before Skin.Graft’s show did it best. Swea-taaaaaack! — organized by choreographer Ryan Heffington and Velvet Hammer creator Michelle Carr — saw a couple dozen patrons from Hef’s Sweaty Sundays class shaking up L.A. with guerrilla-style dance routines on Saturday. The group (which includes club promoter Mario Diaz) surprised tourists and moviegoers outside the Vista and The Arclight with the spectacle, set to Madonna’s “Burning Up,” but their BOXeight assault later got the biggest response; they were invited to do it again inside the venue, on the red carpet.
Madonna was a fitting choice for the rogue vogueing, but we’d like to suggest Lady Gaga for their next grind. We just caught a performance from the blond-banged babe, and while we don’t find her as beguiling as every gay boy around the globe, her moxie, moves and infectious tunes sucked us in. Of course, it probably helped that we saw her not at her packed Wiltern gig but on the tiny stage of the Apple Lounge in WeHo for Star Magazine’s “Hot Young Hollywood” Party. Tunes like “Fame,” “Paparazzi” and “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich” have a campy glam that tweaks the Tinseltown mystique and turns it into cheeky pop art. She might be from N.Y., but it should be no surprise that these days this Lady’s an L.A. woman.