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Sounds From Common, Looks From Louis Verdad & Brian Lichtenberg

Brian Lichtenberg’s models, backstage at CoLA

Lina LecaroBrian Lichtenberg’s models, backstage at CoLA

View more photos in the "Nightranger: Common, Biz Markie, Attention Whores + More Fashion" slideshow.

 

FASHION EXTRAS
So who owned L.A. Fashion Week this season anyway? BOX8 kicked off the city’s dress-up death match with a raucous weekend of runway shows and soirees (see last week’s column and cover story), but those gatherings were by no means all L.A. had to offer in terms of designer parades and parties. This week, Nightranger dips its duds into a few more showy clothing showcases, and from artsy vintage affairs to blaring beat-infused stompers, the verdict is clear: Fashion Week as splintered free-for-all not only works, it rocks.

OLD SCHOOL IN SESSION
Before we get to the garbing, a little groove interlude, if you will. Monday night we got a double dose of hip-hop at the Hard Rock Café at Universal Citywalk, where Common and Biz Markie performed as part of Microsoft Windows’ Musicology 101, benefiting VH1’s Save The Music Foundation (which brings music ed and instruments to public schools). Biz was only on the decks, but his interactive DJ style utilizing a cappella versions of crowd-pleaser cuts (and urging the packed house to fill in the choruses) was as good a performance as any. Woulda loved for the big man to bust out a li’l beat-boxin’ like he does on Nickelodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba, though. Common worked his signature preppy-homeboy style (complete with glasses) and the ladies were swooning. The man’s got a foxy flow onstage, no doubt, and his newer, more visceral material (“Sex 4 Suga”) meshes well with his heavier-message-y stuff. A medley of hip-hop classics showed even more range, and though he’s known to be pretty antigangsta, he even spewed some Dr. Dre. Oral history at its finest.

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES
Attend an exclusive press listening event for Prince’s as-yet unreleased new trio of albums at Crown Bar, or another fashion event? This was Nightranger’s to-do dilemma last Thursday and though we attempted both (read our mixed review of the Purple One’s new discs on the West Coast Sound blog), we got to DLAFW’s “Evening of 20th Century Glamour” at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary — after the festivities concluded.  For some reason nobody stayed around for the after-party except a few drag queens. We did run into MOCA’s party maven Vanessa Gonzalez, who rubbed in the deets about what we missed: an amazing catwalk from Cameron Silver’s Decades, complete with lots of long retro gowns (we collect maxis … ouch!), a bevy of starlets (such as Nicole Richie and Rose McGowan) and fat goody bags (double ouch). Luckily the exquisite Louis Verdad installation including mannequins dressed in his newest line, Louver, was still intact upstairs, and when we went to view it, who was still there adjusting the spiked accessories on them but the designer himself? Verdad told us his new line embodies a darker, edgier spirit, and, indeed, it was almost all black. But this wasn’t goth redux like we saw last week, it was futuristic and fresh yet still fanciful and retro-embellished, a disparity only a talent like Verdad could pull off well. Mark our words, Madonna (already a fan) will be turning up in this stuff soon.

VELVET GOLDMINE
Saturday night’s CoLA fashion event with shows by Joy Rich and Brian Lichtenberg may have been more market-geared, but they ended up being our favorites vibe-wise. The pre-party in the Lady Liberty building downtown had the perfect balance of buyers, chic-sters (Jared Gold, Revolve’s Gabe De Dios) and beatsters (La Boum’s Myles Hendrick, Melrose man Miguel de la Barracuda). People were actually dancing, and even the best-dressed were attitude-free. Well, at least at the party; the runway was full of ’tude (as it should be), first during Rich’s cheeky, fun hip-hop-meets-label-lust mash (parodies of Chanel and Louis Vuitton logos and prints were paired with acid-wash, Sprouse-ish bright leggings and lots of ghetto gold) and then during Lichtenberg’s revelatory glam-rock frock spectacle filled with furry monster-high heels, shimmering lycra fabric and velvet-patchworked body suits and tights. Alex & Chloe’s necklaces, Franc Fernandez’s wonderfully whimsical headpieces and Posso’s leg spats (the “Posso the DJ” gals also provided beats for the show) took the presentation to a Ziggy Stardust realm while still maintaining the designer’s ’80s workout-worthy body-consciousness. Electro club du jour or U.K. glitterdome circa 1974, B.L.’s latest fits in — and stands out

BOHEMIAN LIKE YOU
Switching thematic hats here, Nightranger would like to pay tribute to John Leech, an L.A. legend who passed away last week. As proprietor of the now-closed Onyx Café, Leech was a visionary champion of the arts who gave so many in this city a forum to share their talents and a place to call home. Forget about Cheers, during the ’80s and ’90s, the Onyx was the place where everybody knew your name — and your craft — and it provided a haven for Silver Lake and Los Feliz locals looking to connect with like-minded creative types and caffeine junkies way, way before Starbucks’ laptop culture made it a cliché. Memories of our first foamy latte, seeing Beck play a clumsy folk jam, and smoking doobs out front on Vermont Avenue with its more colorful characters will never fade, and we’re not alone. Every boho type in L.A. seems to have a story about the place and its gatekeeper. A vigil can be found out in front of the coffeehouse’s original location (next to the Vista Theatre), and word on Facebook is a memorial event is in the works. We’ll keep you posted.