Is it spring fever? Or is it starting to seem like everyone in fashion is in L.A. this week, wants to move here, and/or just bought a place?
New York transplants Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, the designers behind a New York Fashion Week label called Ruffian, are among those drinking the Kool-Aid. After relocating to West Hollywood a year ago, they became so inspired by their new home (the climate, the art scene, healthy hikes and all that), that they have now launched a second label, this one based in L.A. and called Wolk Morais.
Wolk Morais made its debut Monday night for Resort 2016 with a runway show held at the Kohn Gallery in Hollywood.
The whole event was an L.A. affair. The show was styled by super stylist Elizabeth Stewart (Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts), and her daughter Ivy Bragin modeled on the runway with several of her Crossroads School classmates, who are muses to the designers.
L.A. Eyeworks created the colorful, nerdy-cool eyeglasses, and Dr. Scholl’s (OK, not L.A. but might as well be) designed the shoes--patent leather versions of the classic exercise sandals making a comeback this season. All the fabric was sourced from L.A.’s The Fabric Store, and the headpieces (which involved pompoms, tiny dinosaurs and the like) were by Montez of The Millinery Guild.
Although the designers’ quirky chic vision was a bit limited (25 looks, many of them similar), they did manage to capture some of the darkness and light of Los Angeles, from the alarming tones of the Emergency Broadcast System that jolted the show to a start, to the heightened, Technicolor palette of the clean, streamlined clothes. Retro Hollywood silhouettes were juxtaposed with the beach: 1960s shift dresses came in every color of the rainbow, pencil skirts were worn with tweedy bikini tops, and a spectacular cyan blue jumpsuit had a flyaway cape fit for a leading lady.
“Turner Classic Movies is always on the TV in our cottage,” said Wolk. “We were also inspired by the minimalist painters of the Ferus Gallery. And in terms of our show, we’re trying to embrace the teenage bourgeoisie.” (Indeed, the designers had to schedule fittings around their models’ Coachella plans.)
“They’ve been calling my 16-year-old their muse,” Stewart said of the designers. “And in a way, they are bringing us together. Normally, she’s in jeans and T-shirts and I’m in what my friends call my ‘grandma chic.’ And what these guys do is kind of both. They are youthful but appeal to me as well….and they love Dr. Scholl’s, which I wore when I was my daughter’s age.”
The designers plan to wholesale Wolk Morais and sell it by appointment. Prices range from $495 to $4,000. They will continue to show their Ruffian label in New York for the fall and spring seasons, and Wolk Morais in L.A. for resort and pre-fall.
“L.A. has a fashion cycle,” Wolk says. “Twice a year—pre awards show and pre-Coachella. And we’re embracing it.”