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Two-day Rock Fashion Week L.A. closes out a month of runways

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Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion event returned to the Petersen Automotive Museum this season, presenting the Spring 2010 runway collections of Leyendecker, Seneca Rising, MG Black Label menswear, Valerj Pobega and Rory Beca.

The most memorable among them was Pobega’s ‘Bondage collection,’ which added a layer of Japanese bondage influence to her 1920s-meets-punk culture aesthetic, with deconstructed kimono dresses, silk charmeuse cocoon coats and irregular circle skirts, hand-dyed, stained and screen printed to look rust-flecked, rope-wrapped and ink-dripped.

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Throw in the twisted cord bondage masks and definitely not-safe-for-work dangling rope accents, and the result was an elegantly unsettling collection that lingered long after the models had left the stage.

It was also a good opportunity to get acquainted with MG Black Label; the new men’s diffusion line launched by Morphine Generation’s Erik Hart earlier this year.

It was Gen Art’s first such showcase of smaller and emerging labels since the August announcement that the organization would merge with Rock Media and Entertainment effective Sept. 15. At that time, plans included a four-day run (Oct. 28 to 31) at Paramount Studios, which was later scaled back to just two days on the tented roof of the Petersen’s parking garage (where Gen Art has staged events in the past.)

That left just one night for Rock Fashion Week L.A.'s inaugural run, a quartet of shows (and one of those was the Pink Dress Collection benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer efforts).

Of the remaining three, I caught the grand finale, a parade of panties, bras and other assorted ‘intimate wear’ staged by Los Angeles-based Biatta Intimates, which felt like a trying-too-hard, low-rent, angel-wingless version of a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

But the racy, lacy underthings sure seemed to be a hit with the crowd; several of the men in the audience took the opportunity to whip out their iPhones and capture the spectacle on video (one can only presume in order to show their significant others back home), and it’s the only time I can think of that so little fabric received so long a standing ovation.

While the first night called to mind the opening event at Downtown L.A. Fashion Week, which showcased a trio of emerging design talent we might never have otherwise seen (thanks to a first-ever $10,000 fashion grant from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs), the second night’s ending was closer in spirit to the Pussycat Dolls’ presence at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in the waning seasons of the IMG/Smashbox partnership.

It underscores the fact that the problem with Los Angeles Fashion Week has less to do with a dearth of design talent than it does with a coherent, broader vision of what purpose a ‘Los Angeles Fashion Week’ should serve; as a purely market-driven platform for designers to reach media and buyers -- the way it is in New York, Paris and Milan -- or as an incubator and cultivator of smaller and emerging talent, the way London Fashion Week has been.

There doesn’t seem to be a a conclusive answer yet -- and maybe the answer is some hybrid of the two approaches. But, as another chaotic, disjointed, disorganized season recedes in the rear view mirror, it’s a question worth asking over and over again until we find one.

-- Adam Tschorn

Rory Beca Spring 2010 Photo Gallery

Leyendecker Spring 2010 Photo Gallery

Seneca Rising Spring 2010 Photo Gallery

Valerj Pobega Spring 2010 Photo Gallery

MG Black Label Spring 2010 Photo Gallery

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