Will the real LA Fashion Week please stand up? Between Fashion's Night Out last month, and the random designer events that have taken place since, many Angelenos might have no idea that indeed, it is officially runway time here in Los Angeles. This coming weekend will see both The Gallery's L.A. Fashion Weekend at Sunset-Gower Studios and GenArt's Fresh Faces event at Vibiana. But we'd bet our vintage maxi dress collection that neither will have the hip factor seen this past weekend at the Concept FW weekend of haps at Ace Gallery on Wilshire Blvd. They definitely won't be as hot (literally) as the four-day event was.
Thursday night saw the wildest and most serious fashion crowd in attendance, but the fab-frocked didn't stay flawless for long. Ace has no A.C., and the temps inside the second-level gallery were easily in the 90s making flowing locks, necklaces, heavy makeup and basically anything with sleeves, big style don'ts. Talk about suffering for fashion.
The sauna-like environs coupled with the disorganization at the front check-in table — and 'tude we got there on Thursday — became too much for us so we bailed before catching any runway shows that night. Thankfully, the installations were worth the jaunt to Miracle Mile alone.
Henry Duarte showed a video installation he created with director Randy Focazio featuring moody gals in black meshed with surreal imagery and his latest collection of defragmented garments and accessories. Though we prefer the retro rock n' roll aesthetic that put Duarte on the fashion map, we give him kudos for stretching his vision in artfully innovative ways that still maintain a dark and dramatic vision.
Speaking of rock n' roll, the Dandy Warhol's Courtney Taylor-Taylor was on hand to lend musical accompaniment to a film installation by Ramses. Taylor pounded on drums and sang while a guitarist and keyboardist played dissonant sounds behind him. Unfortunately he played in the most sweltering room of the gallery and it seemed not many had patience to endure experimental rhythms under those conditions, even though it was where the bar was located.
Friday night saw two anticipated runway presentations; Bohemian Society by Victor Wilde and Jen Awad. Though we missed Wilde's show, we were impressed with the photos we saw of the collection later: a multi-layered mixture of repurposed ethnic fabrics and embellished pieces. The models and styling lived up to the name too.
Jen Awad has been a fave since we saw her sexy-glam doll-inspired collection at Concept last year. For her Spring/Summer 2012 line, she's left the 70's behind and dove right into the 80's with neon brights contrasted with black and white. Though 80s fashion ain't our bag, we thought the looks were styled in a contemporary way that made them feel fresh: up-dos, huge earrings by Sugar Scout Couture and bedazzled pumps by K James Couture. A punk/fetish fashion staple – electrical tape – tied (no pun intended) the collection together. Black Xs used as pasties under clear, colored raincoats started off the procession that spread to all Awad's colorful garments. It was a clever idea but we preferred the simpler pieces utilizing only her signature cut-outs.
Saturday's slew of shows seemed neutral and somewhat basic, so we passed. Apparently they were intriguing enough to get Marilyn Manson out to Ace that night. (The only celeb we saw was Joel Madden on Thursday… isn't his wife supposed to the fashionista in the family?).
Admittedly, our reluctance to return Sat. had more to do with the sweat lodge-ness of the venue and the rudeness we encountered on Thursday. That eve, a long line snaked all the way down the staircase to the bottom floor of the building where Ace is housed and when we asked if their was a press check-in so we wouldn't miss the Sachika show, we were yelled at to go down the staircase at the end of line. The designers probably wouldn't appreciate invited press being yelled at, we said, to which we were told we could leave if we wanted. We made our way downstairs trying to decide what to do and ultimately, the evening breeze proved more seductive than the promise of fancy frocks.
Conceptually speaking, fashion shows in art galleries is a great idea, but there are drawbacks: people being told constantly to get away from the art on the walls, for one. Early closing times is another. Still, as LA Fashion Week struggles to find an identity, kinks will need to be worked out. We get it. Better Concept be creative and chaotic than cold and corporate.