Day 3. The final day of Boxeight shows. It's nice to see the two bohemian Taiwanese sisters who design The Battalion line are back and bohemian as ever. They showed at GenArt last year. This season, their theme is “The New World” (appropriately enough), and they're dressing women in French military coats, Lewis and Clark inspired cargo vests, sliced-up Pocahontas tunics and tricorner hats.
Everything is impeccably tailored. I mean, can those girls sew a bamboo jersey jodhpur-type stretch legging or what? Not a ripple or bumpy seam in sight. The materials are eco-friendly–the leather and fur is “veggie” leather and fur. Not killing animals for beauty is always a plus!
Some conversations about beauty are hilarious. “Do you see any little hairs on my face in this light?” the girl sitting behind me at the Sahaja show asked her friend. The Sahaja show, by the way, employed the hottest male models. Dark, beefy guys with bulging biceps, huge afros and eyeglasses. The rumply plaid shirts and cardigan sweaters remind me of items you'd pick up at the Gap–not necessarily a bad thing, where menswear is concerned–but then later on two guests raved about them. Raved. So, it just goes to show how subjective this stuff is.
Dresses, Cute and Slutty
One of the people who dug the Sahaja line was a woman who works in trend forecasting. For fall, she is predicting lots of colored denim, leather, plaid, romantic goth (not industrial), and 1990s grunge. We were chatting before the Native American-themed Sjobeck presentation. The Sjobeck line is inspired by the designer's grandfather who took a bow from his place in the audience, which got me feeling sentimental and warm and fuzzy and hopeful about fashion as an egalitarian artform. Sjobeck specializes denim, but they had some of the sweetest, most sophisticated dresses of the bunch. There was one pouffy grey taffeta empire waist number with a navy plaid bust that with a little lengthening, would suit most women. As is, it looked simply adorable on the blonde model.
Maxine Dillon's focused, quirky/elegant collection was one of the entire event's strongest and most well put together. And not over priced, either. Her black and white woven silk hooded dress and matching “Tuffy” jacket are unusual and, well, cute. Sorry, but there's just no other word for it. You can buy the dress for $118 and the jacket for $160. Not bad, right? I imagine that her drapey silk dresses cover a multitude of sins, and that her curvy-collared jackets will sell like hotcakes.
While we're on dresses, one of the Boxeight sponsors sat next to me at the Yotam Solomon show and happily snapped photo after photo of the sex-x-x-y gals coming down the walkway in tight silk tube dresses fit to burst their seams. “Hel-llo!” he says when one girl in an impossibly short black dress has an embarrassing moment with her hemline. She recovers gracefully. Hey, what's a little crotch between friends?
Sponsor guy didn't mince words about Smashbox. “I don't like those people,” he said. “They think they're hot shit and they're not.”
“I don't like them either,” said the journalist on my right. “They treated me like I was a second class citizen.”
That's the biggest, most crucial difference between Boxeight and Smashbox. Those who prefer their fashion mean, bitchy, and snobby won't find it (too much) here. It's a contrary notion: fashion that's inclusive rather than exclusive.
Were there glitches? Sure. Deejays miscued songs. Models materialized onstage at the wrong moment, like deer caught in headlights. Boxeight is not a corporate conglomerate. As such, they have heart. They are a group of artists. So some polish and tightness in the way the game is run is sacrificed. But the tradeoff is a warmer, friendlier vibe. One can only hope it stays that way.
For reasons unknown to me (even after Googling), reasons which will doubtless be revealed in due time, MTV was in house filming Jazmin Whitley's Li Cari show (closing out the weekend). Here, the Boxeight collective members got up on the runway to take a bow. One of them spoke about love, and creativity, and cooperation, thanked us for showing up and said: “This is not Paris. This is not Milan. This is not New York. And this is definitely not Culver City. This is downtown LA.”