View this week's Nightranger slideshow here.
WASTE NOT, WEAR HOT
L.A.’s official Fashion Week is here, but Nightranger won’t be scurrying around Smashbox Studios sipping cleverly coined liquor-company-sponsored cocktails and angling for views of the great white runway this season. Despite all the free makeup we’ll be missing out on, we’re delving solely into the city’s “outsider” fashion events. If the presentations we saw by two of L.A.’s most inspiring visionary vamps this past weekend are any indication, outta the box is gonna be outrageous indeed.
Saturday night at Santa Monica’s Track 16, local designer Lun*na Menoh staged “Couture Salvage,” a fashion show and music performance piece featuring wearables made from trash and castoffs: old vacuum cleaners, broken TV sets, a discarded couch. Sporting a mad-scientist-like white wig, Menoh performed her own music for the show, opening with an apropos electro ditty, “Me and My Power Tools” (a reworded cover of “Me and My Rhythm Box,” from ’80s cult fave Liquid Sky). The former Seksu Roba singer (and wife of Tam Tam Books’ Tosh Berman) made moody, space-girl grooves (with help from her band, which features former Devo drummer Alan Myers), providing a perfect soundscape for the otherworldly looks that followed. Deconstructed dresses in traditional fabrics like lace, canvas and leather shared the catwalk with bags, jewelry, belts and tops made from broken plastic, wire and even old sneakers. Adding an interactive element, models, including MOCA events planner Vanessa Gonzalez, walked their last round of the show chatting on cell phones. (We’ve seen this before, but never for real — the crowd was buzzing as the chatty catwalkers rang peeps in the audience.) Things got even more in-your-face after the show, when everything just seen on models was wheeled out in racks straight to the runway, available for purchase. The gathering was entertaining, but more important, it was a comment on consumption and waste in modern culture. “As humans, we cannot ignore the common, everyday object,” says Menoh. “Whatever you see or touch can be recycled and wearable.” Catch Menoh’s band, Jean Paul Yamamoto (opening for Love Grenades), at The Echo on Friday, October 24.
TOO MUCH, THE MAGIC BUS
Perhaps even more revolutionary in her reconstructive approach to fashion and how it intercedes in our daily lives, multimedia artist and designer Bettina Hubby offered the most unconventional presentation of clothing and accessories we’ve ever seen. Hubby’s Co-Tour 2008, which took place last Sunday afternoon, wasn’t your run-of-the-mill runway event; it was an exploration of clothing and the creative process (and the role our individual environments play in self-expression and personal style). Staged inside a pimped-out party bus, the tour transported Nightranger and 40 others around the Eastside of L.A., with stops at Silver Lake faves such as Skylight Books, Cheetah’s and even Trader Joe’s. We didn’t get off at those stops, but rather picked up models who donned Hubby’s detailed creations representing each locale. At Skylight, writer Dave Cull walked down the narrow bus in a jacket covered with a handwritten version of one of his stories, while a stripper peeled off Hubby-made layers emblazoned with Cheetah’s pinup-girl logo. Trader Joe’s recognizable Hawaiian motif was seen on dresses and shirts, and TJ snacks were thrown out of bedazzled canvas shopping bags. Other stops included the Vista Theater (where Hubby’s cohorts covered the marquee with her tour logo, guerilla style), Hop Louie in Chinatown and the Silver Lake Dog Park (yes, two embellished pooches hopped the bus too). It all ended at fashion scribe Rose Apodaca and spouse Andy Griffith’s A+R store, where a parking-lot party open to all offered food, drink, DJ beats and Aardvark Letter Press printing up maps of the tour route, plus an opportunity to buy Hubby’s works in the store. It was a perfect climax to the clothes-minded conceptual production (which, by the way, has given us a new perspective on our neighborhood). The Hubby pop-up shop will be at A+R through November 2.
SEEING RED (CARPETS)
With L.A. Fashion Week’s fate seemingly tenuous at the moment (rumor is this may be the last season at Smashbox), style events are sure to go in two disparate directions. Avant-garde gatherings such as those above, and more glamour-focused fashion events and red-carpeted ragers, not unlike the one we jetted to after Hubby’s happening. Sunday eve’s Nikon/Hollywood Life Style Awards at Pacific Design Center honored emaciated starlets and the people who make them look good (designer Monique Lhuillier, photog Matthew Rolston) with an awards show and after-party that was surprisingly lively and yet laid-back. Though we don’t agree with the naming of 90210 as “Most Stylish TV Cast” (an award given in conjunction with the People’s Choice Awards), they got it right in honoring local legend Bob Mackie, and he was even there to accept with glitzy dance icon Mitzi Gaynor presenting, no less! Now, that’s true Hollywood style …
TIME WARP AGAIN …
And finally, a different kind of dress-up event — the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Nuart — ended up this week’s pranciest pit stop. The überinteractive screenings, complete with live stage cast Sins o’ the Flesh performing onstage, have been going on for over 20 years now, but last Saturday, they had some exciting extras, including a special “Monsters of Rocky” show, which injected famed musicians and classic anthems into Rocky Horror lore, and “Rocky the Vote,” a registration drive (encouraging “No on Proposition 8” ). If you’ve never been part of this wild and wonderful talk-back-to-the-screen scene, you must go check it out, preferably this Saturday, October 18, the last night of the voter sign-up. But prepare to have a “V” — for virgin — lipsticked on your face (like model Adrienne Curry the night we were there). Even if you have been to the weekly gathering, it’s worth a revisit (again and again) just to keep track of all the snappy new comebacks and ever-expanding lingo and props that regulars these days seem to have come up with. In fact, the vibe at the Nuart is so fun and friendly, we recommend the Friday-night Cine-Insomnia screenings too. A new 35 mm print of Nightmare on Elm Street shows this Friday, October 17; Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke is on October 24; and the creepy silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (with live musical accompaniment) happens Halloween night, October 31. See the Rocky raucousness in our online slide show.