What’s a VIP to do without a VIP tent? Gone was the traditional celebrity secure zone from this year’s Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Culver City. Missing were most of the seat stealers and so-called stylists; in their place were more press and buyers and industry folk. Even the D-list reality-TV stars were kept to a minimum. And one lone bar limited itself to wine and beer instead of the overly sweet, headache-inducing cocktails that were doled out like candy at Fashion Weeks gone by. It was kind of refreshing — the focus stayed on the clothing instead of the partying and swag bags. Plus Smashbox and IMG did their best to lure some names we haven’t seen on L.A. Fashion Week runways in a few seasons. Of course, this is L.A., so the scene wasn’t truly celebrity free, especially at the unveiling of Nicky Hilton’s Chick line. Her idea for a Wednesday-Adams-meets-French-maid little black dress was super hot, but I’d want mine with better fabric and better tailoring. That’s exactly what we got when we took a look at the Spring 2008 collections from returning heroes Petro Zillia, Grey Ant and Jeremy Scott, who, even with his trashy theme, classed up the place.

Grey Ant’s Future Vision

Grey Ant hasn’t been seen on an L.A. runway since 2005. And thank God for the Ant’s return! The spring collection incorporated the current ecological Zeitgeist of our post–An Inconvenient Truth lives. It was futuristic bohemian — tie-dyed shirts and dresses, floppy bonnet-hoods made of hemp and organic silks and cotton — through a Japanese filter. Call it Kubrick meets Haight-Ashbury. Designer Grant Krajecki said he’d been spending a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest, and the vibe of the place started to influence him. It was hippie, but not dirty hippie. “More preppie hippie,” he said. “A little more conservative.”

Think Tevas, not Birkenstocks. Krajecki did. The boys walked the runway in standard-issue all-terrain Tevas, while the girls wore Krajecki’s own design: platform heels with Velcro Teva straps. They were kind of genius. The models also donned Grey Ant shades, mod takes on classic Wayfarers.

Jeremy Scott’s Trash Recycling

Doesn’t it seem like the city is one big construction site these days? Constant condo building defies the splat of the real estate bubble, which only adds to the traffic headaches that have become a routine part of our urban lives. Jeremy Scott’s latest collection acknowledged these city realities with prints of traffic signs, tire tracks and more. Models walked the runway smeared in what looked like motor oil; the women wore hats that resembled garbage-can lids and the men wore hard hats. Tan dresses were covered with construction boot footprints; black dresses had silver wet-paint-style hand prints. There were belts that looked like rubber tires, oversize bolt earrings and a wrench necklace. In his usual comic, Koons-like style, Scott showed dresses that looked more like sculptures. There was a garbage bag dress and, Scott’s favorite, the trash-can bride dress — a tube dress shaped like an old Oscar the Grouch metal garbage can from Sesame Street. One model completely bit it on the runway, leaving a nasty grease skid mark behind.

The show marked Scott’s return to L.A. Fashion Week, after not showing here for five years. It was big news. Some rolled their eyes and called it simply a recycled Paris show; others felt really lucky to get to see a prêt-à-porter Jeremy Scott show in L.A. Since most buyers already placed their orders a month ago in Paris, Scott wasn’t showing for commerce. As he said backstage after the show, “I do it for the community.”

Petro Zillia Attacks L.A.

“So L.A.” That was the theme of the new Petro Zillia spring collection. It was young and fresh and filled with vibrant colors and lots of flowing silk dresses. The makeup for the show, created for Petro Zillia by Smashbox, was all about liner, lips and lashes. Petro Zillia designer Nony Tochterman said she’s been inspired by the fearless L.A. women she saw when she moved here. Where others insult L.A. women for not following fashion rules, Tochterman is charmed. The L.A. woman is confident enough to wear hot-pink pant suits and ultra sheer gowns. It’s one of the traits she finds so attractive about the city’s character.

The front row had its share of L.A. women. Perrey Reeves, who plays Mrs. Ari on Entourage, said her character often wears Petro Zillia. She loved this spring’s bright-colored gowns, and picked out smoky midnight-blue shorts with a matching see-through silk top as an outfit worthy of Mrs. Ari. Also, Lisa Edelstein from House was in the audience swooning over the dresses. But it was Paris Hilton’s arrival in a teal Petro Zillia pantsuit — down the runway pre-show with Tochterman, then backstage — that had everybody saying, “Now, that’s so L.A.”

Fierce Heatherette

Okay, I’ve finally gotten out of my Heatherette-induced K-hole. If you asked me last week what I thought of the show, I’d have said it was like someone ate a Jo-Ann Fabric store and threw it up all over .?.?. and then ate a Fourth of July church picnic, tablecloths, napkins and all, and threw that up. I mean, that’s what I would have said the night of the show. But I’ve given it a lot of thought, and have changed my mind. There was fringe, on top of appliques, on top of doo-dads and doo-hickeys — they were almost Suessian. It was like Heatherette was doing every drug you ever took — all at once.

Remember when clubbing and raves were hot shit in the ’80s and ’90s? The club kids were kind of like the disco era’s dumpster prom baby. I was one of them, for a little while. So I started feeling nostalgic, thinking about how back then kids glue gunned their clothes together and created “fierce” looks just for that night. It was their art and self-expression, and I pictured Heatherette’s designers Traver Rains and Richie Rich running around with glue guns.

Getting Patty Hearst’s daughter Lydia and porn star Jenna Jameson to walk down the runway was genius. But even if it wasn’t for the guy dancing, er, rolling, in the aisles, the main tent at that moment felt like the fiercest party of Fashion Week. Heatherette is about fun. It was so much fun that even now .?.?. it’s all a blurrrr .?.?. You know what they say, “If you remember Heatherette, then you weren’t there .?.?.”

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