Christian Audigier, the king of the Ed Hardy empire and moving force behind the Von Dutch brand, is a master showman. At his Spring 09 show, entitled “American Lord,” models walked on a runway lined with live grass. Two British guards with big black poufy hats stood at attention then began dancing as the music swelled. Models in distressed, screen printed, blinged-out, shredded jeans strutted in green and red top hats with massive Great Dane hounds in tow. Children waved American flags.

The clothes are signature Audigier: a mashup of graphic symbols, glitter, rhinestones and denim, this time with pleated plaid kilts, stretch leggings, tartain trousers, and tartan tights. The girls are rock and roll princesses, the troublesome wild children of an aristocratic family, freshly rolled out of a dumpster, tiara still stuck in their bedraggled hair after a night out clubbing with the rich and famous. They guys are heirs to the throne who crash their Ferraris every couple of weeks then go out to buy another.

When you boil away the circus antics–the dancing children, the dogs, the smoke and mirrors, even the cloud of glitter that exploded at the show's climax heralding the arrival of Emperor Audigier himself–you're left with very basic, ambitiously priced items, bedazzled with exuberant graphics. That Audigier's come up with a way to sell a hoodie for $300 is testament to his genius. As was the show. Depending on your level of cynicism, it either represents everything wrong with American decadence, commercialism and excess, or is a jolly good time. I'm pretty cynical, so I think it's both.

Heidi Klum, who watched with a serious expression from the front row, smiled enigmatically when a girl in black sequined leggings came out.

(the grass runway)

(songlist to the show)

(a tiny bit of Heidi's golden locks)

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