Every October for the past several years, Fashion Week in Los Angeles begins with the Gen Art show. Actually, it begins properly in September with people going on diets and many frantic emails between fashion reporters, stylists, buyers, and publicists, with a deluge of invitations in the mail, and with a general sense of excitement/foreboding/anxiety/elation about the gorgeous shows to come and the models who will by necessity be thinner and prettier than you no matter how many cupcakes you sacrifice.

Anyway, Gen Art is the organization that typically launches the hottest designers in this city. They also run the Project Runway casting calls. If there is a designer whose name you recognize from LA, chances are they were Gen Art alumni: Tarina Tarantino, Grey Ant, Jeffrey Sebelia.

Four designers–all with some kind of eco or sustainability angle to their clothes–showed at the Gen Art “Fashionably Natural” show at the Petersen Automotive Museum: Velvet Leaf, Brigid Catiis, Popomomo, and The Battalion.

Waiting for the runway show to begin, I stood next to three very young, very thin, very pretty Vogue girls. I can’t be sure, but I think they were interns.

The already dim lights dimmed some more, and we scrambled into our seats. Actress Maggie Gyllenhaal popped out for a few seconds, indicated the backstage area and said in her deep, caramelly voice, “There’s lots of girls in short skirts waiting to come out.”

Velvet Leaf’s Spring and Summer 2009 collection is called “A Geometric Revolution.” There are lots of girly babydoll dresses in pale tones with large primary color circles on them. Some of the dresses, the ones in gold with big red circles on the front with little lapis lazuli accents, remind me of Egyptian scarab beetles.

In Popomomo’s collection, “Searching For Aesthetic Utopias”, the models wear socks with their high heels and trouser length nylons, the nude kind like you buy at CVS, pulled up to their calves, a nerdy effect which I’ve just now decided I like.

The girls look as if it’s the 1940’s, and they’ve just started getting dressed (or undressed) and are halfway through when they have to go answer the door or something. Popomomo also did, to the delight of the straight men in the audience, a micro, micro, micro mini butt-cleavage revealing skirt called the “Less Than Zero Skirt.” Because it takes almost zero fabric to make it? Because you have to be less than size 0 to wear it? Because you feel like you’re wearing practically nothing while in it?

The Battalion did a Spanish flamenco dancer thing, which concluded with this magnificent white flowing gown. It's made out of bamboo jersey. It made me think of mosques and Morocco for some reason. And ghosts.

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