L.A. design talent emerges on the runway


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Each of the three fledgling lines that participated in Downtown L.A. Fashion Week’s first Emerging Designers Showcase walked to its own beat. Phong Hong, Fernanda Carneiro and the design team of Jacquetta O'Dell and Leslie Henry presented tight, focused 10-look collections Tuesday night at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

There were the overtly frothy and feminine looks of Phong Hong as well as the conceptual ‘construction-site’ chic hammered together by O'Dell and Henry for the Krys-N-Jack line.


Phong Hong’s Femme Noir collection was primarily blush with delicate black accents such as bows and thin ribbon belts. It was unabashedly girlie, right down to the impossibly short hemlines, making the dresses seem more fit for dolls than grown women. His last look was eye-catching, but at second glance, the strapless pewter dress with sculpted roses on the skirt reminded me a lot of a croquembouche, cavities included.

Fernanda Carneiro was clearly feeling upbeat and optimistic, with sunny, floral fabrics and kicky day dresses -- again, so short that any woman conscious of her thighs would never wear them. Her mix of tan and coral felt truly Miami, which makes sense since the designer attended the University of Florida before getting her design training at FIDM.

The highlight of the show was a collection by O'Dell and Henry. The design duo create clothing from leather and wood (think wood-paneled) skirts with the door numbers still on them, hammered metal corsets and wood neckties and necklaces. The two are fascinated by building and have a background in interior design, carpentry and manufacturing -- in fact, they met while working in a drapery factory in Oklahoma. They cite Hussein Chalayan as an inspiration, and their strong point-of-view and interest in working with alternative materials have them on the right track to carving out a nice little niche in the L.A. fashion scene. -- Melissa Magsaysay