Gen Art presented The New Garde 2006 at the lavish Park Plaza Hotel on Friday night. The place was rank with old Hollywood glamour, it slinked down the grand staircase, waltzed around the ballroom and rested in the wood carved ceilings. This Gen Art show was a far cry from the last one at the Santa Monica airport. This year to celebrate three emerging designers— Christina Scarbo from Kit Pistol, Hajnalka Mandula of Mandula and Suzy Yun of Unhee— stage installations with live model vignettes were set up in different locations around the hotel. At 9 pm, the stages came to life. We were in the Ballroom staring at a large cocoon made of twigs and paper, which looked vaguely like an egg in Aliens. This was the world Mandula had created and suddenly models crawled out wearing shredded tops and bottoms in varying shades of gray, I call the look refugee chic. There was one model who emerged bug eyed and full of wonder, as if she had landed on another planet, she really inhabited the installation and responded and reacted to it. The
others annoyingly made model pose-y faces while staring out at the audience completely jarring with the set. We were so annoyed that we moved to the next room where we found Unhee's giant ship. On board were models wearing short
jumpers made of silk with billowy pirate sleeves that walked from one end of the ship to the other whispering and talking to one another. I liked the clothes here best of all, hot little 60's esque numbers, but the opportunity for real drama
was lost on the boring models, who made half-hearted attempts to reenact plank walking, deck swabbing and other swashbuckling activities. I was
disappointed. Was there any direction? I mean if they were going to go
for it, they should have went all the way. We headed downstairs to see what Kit Pistol had going on, the day-glow set featured astro-turf, a park bench and children's swing set that had been coated in yellow paint. Models
chased each other squirting water guns, they sucked on bright colored Popsicles and jumped rope. One pushed her Barbie on a swing. It was the most fun to watch, though it was a little fetishistic. And I felt a little pervy to think it was as hot as I did. But it was. It was hot. I liked the flirty dresses and skirts a lot, but I probably wouldn't be caught dead in the plaid padded push-up bra-like top. Despite lackluster performances, I am excited to see what these designers come up with next.
all photos by Tiger Alturas