It was billed as “the wildest front row in all of Fashion Week.” You sometimes get a tranny or two in the audience at Smashbox Studios, site of L.A.’s official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, but never in the numbers or caliber of the sparkling array of gorgeous cross-dressers in falsies and heels that turned up Friday night at Jared Gold’s Quiet Army show. Equally as shiny were the stylish men who sashayed this way and that in the lobby, including the event’s producer, the now-lithe Clint Catalyst, writer and contributing editor at Swindle, who was wearing a Jared Gold jacket adorned with multicolored horseback-riding ribbons.
“I’m a size queen,” he said as he handed us our tickets. “Believe me I’ve rode some horses.”
It’s hard to say what was more opulent — the crowd or the Los Angeles Theater, with its cathedral-coffered ceilings, gold molding and dripping crystal chandeliers. But the men weren’t the only ones who put extra effort into their outfits. Women in gloves, tiny veiled hats and home-crafted dresses populated the old movie house. Dame Darcy turned up in a wide-brimmed hat holding a parasol and one of her own, kind-of-creepy handmade china dolls.
This was a palace of underground royalty, with the kind of artsy throng made up of so many creative individuals that we felt like Sears-suited paint-by-numbers accountants in comparison. It was no Culver City fashion show.
And it was all brought to you by BOXeight, basically three men with no luxury-car sponsorship who plan to take over the world. Or at least to bring the heart of L.A. Fashion Week back to its birthplace downtown — to promote shows that demonstrate true artistry in clothing instead of the corporate-machine runway scenes that they say have taken over the other end of town.
The three of them look a bit like the Village People: Peter Gurnz, a hipster artist with a shaggy haircut is the driving force behind BOXeight; downtown advocate and neighborhood council president Brady Westwater, a.k.a. “L.A. Cowboy,” who comes complete with prerequisite hat, is well known to metro news types; and Gary Warfel, in a suit and tie, actually looks a little like a paint-by-numbers accountant, but is really a big downtown developer. They dreamed up the idea of competing with Smashbox over drinks just a little more than six weeks before Fashion Week was set to begin. The idea was to produce their own L.A. fashion weekend of sorts, with shows at the Standard and the Los Angeles Theater. And so far the crowd and the location is already much more appealing than the Smashbox scene.
What about celebrities? Jared Gold’s show was filled with reality-TV stars, you know — those celebrities created by the people. Clint Catalyst got beauties like Top Model’s Lisa D’Amato and Joanie Dodds as well as J.P. Calderon of Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, actress Mageina Tovah, and the now fucshia-haired Jeffree Star of MySpace (whose EP Plastic Surgery Slumber Party is, according to a fan, currently No. 1 on the iTunes dance chart right above Justin Timberlake).
Old-school reality-TV veteran Bobby Trendy, who made a small name on the small screen as Anna Nicole Smith’s interior decorator, watched the spectacle from the front row in an oversize blouse worthy of Patti LaBelle, and a pink-and-rhinestone choker. I asked if he wanted to share any thoughts about Anna.
“It’s very sad,” he said, the light flickering in his lip-gloss. “But her legacy lives on. She touched a lot of people. And I just want to say that I never accepted any money for interviews. The only reason some people are talking now is because they want money, but I haven’t asked for one dollar. Ugh, that Howard. The truth will be revealed.”
How X-Files. The front row also contained the likes of Jenna Jameson, Eric from Hole (remember him? He actually lived through this), directors Daniel Stein (Color Me Olsen) and Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), White Oleander author Janet Fitch, and many other “fancy folks” as they’re known in certain circles.
But this crowd didn’t really care. Here, the lovely sculptress Elizabeth McGrath and other artist-utantes rule, and designer Jared Gold is the king du jour. Gold has shown to the underground for many years, cultivating a cult following with such ephemeral themes as light and shadows and aural vacuums.
Finally it was showtime, and with a Palace of Versailles–worthy hallway of dark wood paneling and candle sconces as runway backdrop, his clothes took center stage.
The theme? Mormon chic.
Despite the devil’s water being poured at the bar upstairs, on the runway it was all high-ruffled collars, modest hemlines, golden honeycombs and bees. Gold has just moved his company’s Black Chandelier headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah, and his new home has clearly inspired him. But there were also touches of Girl Scout green and military emblems.
A fashion militia?
Gold smiled and said, “I’m building a small army.”
For more L.A. Fashion Week coverage, check the Style Council blog at https://blogs.laweekly.com/style_council/