Sebelia's Fashion Fight Club

The Eternal Embrace fall collection: Victorian-esque tops and ghost plaid jeans. (Photos by Theo Jemison/Cosa Nostra)

Way downtown, in a normally dark corner of the city occupied by vacant warehouses, loft spaces still in need of residents, and semi trucks on their way out of town, the sort of gorgeously fashionable crowd normally seen in Hollywood nightclubs jostled for position in the valet line along Santa Fe Avenueas bright lights illuminated the sparkling throng waiting on the sidewalk to get inside the soon-to-be-renovated 2121 Lofts. They were there to see Project Runway winner Jeffrey Sebelia’s latest Cosa Nostra collection.

This was Sebelia’s first show since winning the series, and fans and foes alike lined up to get close — the detractors, arms folded, wanted to see if they’d be proved right or wrong. Flashbulbs went off with the frenzy of a movie premiere, and the average wait to check in with the list keepers was 30 minutes, even for some VIPs.

We snuck around back to the interior courtyard, where white chairs lined a miniature lemon grove, making a square runway under the spotlights. One of the buildings borderingthe yard was framed by a metal balcony, really more like a long fire escape, and it was packed with people peering down as they clutched their Red Bull–and-vodka drinks. Between the bright lights on the square catwalk, the people hanging from the building and the raw industrial location, it felt like a back-street boxing match — an underground fashion fight club.

We had time to grab a drink (actually, we double-fisted it because the bar line was so long) before taking our seats, which was fortunate because our prime front-row real estate was being drooled on by predators looking to nab a spot. Tim Anderson, guitarist for Ima Robot, sat behind us (the band was slated to play when the show was over); next to him was actor Jeremy Sisto from Six Feet Under; and all around us were the fashion movers and shakers of L.A. — television crews, photographers, hipsters, writers, editors and couture groupies.

Then the music started and, projected on a wall of windows, an image appeared of two models arm in arm.They made their way out of a building and around the lemon-grove runway, and the show began. I had gotten a sneak peak at the collection last week, but with 40 looks, that glimpse was just the tip of the iceberg. I was blown away. The inspiration for Sebelia’s fall line was a pair of skeletons found embracing for thousands of years, and along with colors like rust and bone, there were gauzy shirts and dresses frayed like a mummy’s wrap. Jackets that had several rows of zippers opened, revealing the shirts underneath, givethe effect of peering into a decayed rib cage. There was even a take on Sebelia’s series-winning dress — this time, the green-and-white stripes were replaced with a deep crimson, the shade of dried blood.

The crowd clapped and hollered. And when the show was over, Sebelia, in a white tank and skinny jeans, took his bow, walking quickly around the runway with his fists raised above his head triumphantly like Rocky Balboa. A mass of people seemed to swallow up the runway as they followed him backstage. Ima Robot launched into their set, but half the crowd had vanished to either get a jump on what was sure to be a clusterfuck at the valet, or sing praises to Sebelia. A Mohawked kid who drove here from the Valley to see the band couldn’t believe the absence of excitement.

“What the fuck?” he asked aloud near the Porta Pottis. “This is like one of the best bands in L.A., and you get the chance to see them up close for free— where the hell are these people going?”

Slowly some of the crowd came rolling back, like a wave drawn to the music. Even though it felt a little bit like Puppet Show and Spinal Tap, the band rocked pretty hard, undaunted by a shitty mike and the lack of a stage. Some hot chicks in ripped leggings and miniskirts rocked out in front, Jeremy Sisto rocked out from the sidelines, and the rest of the bunch bobbed up and down, shouting along the lyrics.

By the end a lot of people had dribbled away, but the die-hard fans who were left demanded an encore, and the band lovingly gave it to them, launching into three more songs.

“That actually felt good,” said a thoroughly sweaty lead singer Alex Ebert.

Backstage, a beaming Sebelia echoed the statement.

Jeans treated to look like bones

 Gauzy turtlenecks and dressesBack in BlackFashion Week TrendmeterOne of the biggest trends this L.A. Fashion Week was supporting non-Smashbox events. Crowds flocked to shows held downtown at the Standard Hotel and the Los Angeles Theater and a smattering of Hollywood hot spots like Boulevard 3 and the Avalon. Looking for Elisha Cuthbert and Jenna Jameson, new faces to L.A. Fashion Week, in the front row was another trend. And as far as the duds go, this fall black is the new black, as a kinder, gentler goth makes a comeback. Joey T and Cosa Nostra featured lots of black. And with the darkness comes the light — look for lots of metals, gold and silver, as seen at Alvin Valley, and at the Imitation of Christ show, where the frilly Victorian romantic goth or futuristic fetishy goth we’ve seen before disappeared. Instead, tall black pumps, chunky cross necklaces, super-sparkly sequined dresses in champagne and jet, and body-hugging pants all brought to mind the decade of decadence and (s)excess. Very Dynasty meets Dinah Cancer. Also for fall, look for lots of high ruffled necklines, and a mix of mini and more modest hemlines. Lots of rich jewel tones like the plums and emeralds at Kevan Hall and Eduardo Lucero. And the ’90s continue to make a comeback with more dark nail polish and dark lipsticks, dark hair, jeans, plaids.

—Linda Immediato and Lina Lecaro

Channeling Morticia Adams at Joey Tierney(Above and below photos by Ted Soqui)

Glam goth at Imitation of Christ


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