This was possibly the lamest L.A. Fashion Week in the brief history of L.A. Fashion Weeks. Last year we had the likes of Courtney Love, Charlize Theron, Jack Nicholson and Mischa Barton sitting in the front row. This year, except for Diana Ross, the biggest names were ones you wouldn’t recognize. The gift bags were wastes of trees (large bags containing only matchbooks), and the free drinks still sucked. But this season, what was missing the most was the show in fashion show. Where was the theater? The entertainment? I know criticizing something young and defenseless is like slapping an infant, but this is Los Angeles. We have movie magic and set designers at our fingertips. I’m not talking about using cheesy special effects, but is it too much to ask for well-done, well-conceived productions? Last season, at the Corey Lynn Calter show, snowflakes sprinkled the catwalk, adding to the fairy-tale theme of the show. It was unexpected and, for a moment, transported you from being in the same old Smashbox tent to a magical place.

This season, many shows seemed to be put together in a rush. Maybe in distancing itself from the movie industry, L.A. fashion has done itself a disservice. I heard some people say they almost fell asleep at some shows. Good music can only go so far, and the main tent at Smashbox in Culver City is a pretty big space to fill. What we had instead of a fashion show was a photo op for reality-TV stars like Laguna Beach’sKristin Cavallari and American Idol’s Randy Jackson. As photographers descended on the C-listers in a fury of flashes, the rest of us were left asking, “Who the hell was that?”

Some shows did manage to be fun — special mention to Meghan, who sent greasy bellmen and luggage-filled carts down the runway, lending context to her No-Tell Motel theme. But the most fun I had all week was at the Ashley Paige show, with her bright, ’60s-revolutionary glam.

Best in Show

It was ’60s psychedelic at its best — think Grace Slick, caftans and the kinds of exploding bright colors experienced during an acid trip. The great thing about an Ashley Paige show is that it’s fun. She doesn’t pretend that her clothes are something that they aren’t. The clothes are casual, and so was the vibe. It felt like a party. Models with stick-straight hair flashed peace signs in hot pink, turquoise and black-striped knit minidresses, metallic- spindled, granny-square, itsy-bitsy bikinis and floppy, Golden Gate Park hats and big sunglasses. The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” and Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” blasted from the speakers. It was Haight-Ashbury through an L.A. filter: glossier and shiny, less crunchy.

An island sponsored the show. That’s right, “Turks and Caicos presents Ashley Paige.” I sat behind Miss Turks and Caicos, peering through her tiara at the runway. Though that sponsorship raised the bar on the gift bags (plush embroidered bath towels!), the production itself didn’t seem to be expensive. It had just a little something different and unexpected, like when Paige sent her models strolling down the runway smoking cigarettes. One model even came out topless — re-creating the free-love, bra-burning ’60s Zeitgeist. Maybe Ashley, in a very unpreachy way, chose a theme of rebellion, social change, ending the war, and peace in hopes of inspiring all of us. The peace movement of the ’60s was hot; it was sexy. It was a time when radicalism and activism were, well, cool, and they looked cool. Maybe dressing the part is the first step to change now.

Spring Forward

How young can Hollywood get? Forget Lolita, the biggest trend for spring I saw on the runway this season was toddlerwear. Everywhere were the super short, almost-baby-nightgown dresses with infantile prints like teddy bears and dollies and slightly more grown-up versions of the kinds of one-piece jumpers you’d see in kindergarten classrooms. Yana K’s inspiration was Shirley Temple. A little, pin-curled 20-something model tap-danced her way, with childlike awkwardness, down the runway, lip-synching to “The Good Ship Lollipop.” Then, perhaps a bit more sophisticated, one after another of the taller, leggier models walked down in pinafore dresses and curls. The clothes were super well made: beautiful pleats and ribbon detailing, stiff fabric you’d see on parlor ottomans or curtains, thick brocade dresses. Slowly the clothes grew up into First Lady–like frocks (think Jackie Kennedy or an astronaut’s wife).

At Jennifer Nicholson, models carried giant lollipops and wore tiny, waistless dresses in baby pink, polka dots and cream silk with little pink foxes all over them, paired with black-vinyl boots and fetish gag balls around their necks as jewelry. At Voom, we saw the same kinds of short baby nightgowns with rocking horses and baby blocks on them, even baby-bonnet-type hoods. Maybe it’s evidence of the Harajuku street-clothes thing seeping into our culture. Or maybe it’s a reflection of how our increasing obsession with youth is leading to a pedophilic society that overly sexualizes and exploits children. Whatever the underlying cause, young — like really young — appears to be the thing for spring.

Other Hot Trends

Suspenders Suspenders with dresses, with shorts, with wide-legged pants . . . suspenders were all over the runway, from Corey Lynn Calter to Frankie B.

Gold Touch Nearly every collection I saw, including Meghan and Louis Verdad, had pieces featuring shimmering gold — either lamé, gold silk or gold threads — running through the fabric.

Victorian Goth High-ruffled collars, long sleeves, long bustled skirts were also all the rage.

High-Waist PantsThe high-waisted pant is back. Morphine Generation and other shows flaunted that ’40s, waistline-starting-nearly-under-the-breast style Rosalind Russell wore with such moxie in His Girl Friday.

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