If fashion design students are harbingers of the future of fashion, then there's good news and bad news.
At four recent graduation shows--Brooks College, Long Beach City College, Woodbury University and Los Angeles Trade Technical College--the classes were well populated with students filled with desire and ability to get into "The Business." But for the most part, creativity, originality and quality seemed limited to inspirations from local malls, rather than the masters.
There were, however, shining examples of promising talent in each of the shows.
L.A. Trade Technical College gets the highest marks for quality of pattern making, details and fabrication. These students also showed signs of knowledge beyond neighborhood style, without going too far. There were signs of '40s-style suits, a trend just now being talked about in the elevators of Seventh Avenue.
First-place winner Silvia De La Torre's teal gabardine suit with long beaded peplum jacket and long slim skirt was a perfect example. The children's wear category had the most original and wearable garments. First-place winner Susan Fredrick melted everyone's hearts with her ruffled clown-faced pinafore, with stuffed animals secured in plastic pockets circling the skirt.
At Woodbury University, Janina Bringas collected three first-place prizes, including Best of Show, which she won with her short gold lame evening suit with gold lace details. Some of the most impressive creativity was seen in the theatrical category: dresses made of filmstrips that lit up; a flirty skirt of newspapers, and a Florenz Ziegfeld-like bodysuit, titled "goddess of the garden," with three-dimensional flowers, birds and butterflies.
An artful entree at Brooks College was a "Dangerous Liaisons"-inspired wedding dress by Shannon Rogers. Menswear from first-place winner Nola Goodridge also looked strong. She put colorful microfiber trench coats in orange, rust and olive over equally colorful suits with printed detailing on the lapels and cuffs.
At Long Beach City College, the two-hour production, excessively long by any standards except perhaps those of the graduates' family members, included videotaped interviews with the students. The standouts were special-occasion clothes. First-place winner in the social-dressing category was Luis Arriaga's short, red chiffon dress with silver sequined bra cups. Christina Ly's body-sculpted, long black velvet dress studded with rhinestones garnered the first-place prize in eveningwear.