Los Angeles Fashion Week: A visual feast at William Bradley

LA Fashion Week: William Bradley Spring/Summer 2015
Looks from the Spring/Summer 2015 William Bradley runway collection presented at the Reef during Los Angeles Fashion Week.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Women’s label William Bradley, a recent transplant to the City of Angels, made a noteworthy runway debut at the Los Angeles Fashion Council slate of shows Wednesday.

Designer Brad Parnell and partner Rodney Jones launched their line in Tuscaloosa, Ala., some three three years ago, Parnell told us after the show, moving their fledgling business to L.A. (where all the garments are made) about a year ago.

The inspiration: Pablo Picasso’s “The Blind Man’s Meal,” which Parnell had seen during a visit to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, inspired the spring and summer 2015 collection titled “The Blind Man’s Blessing,” the designer wrote in the show notes.

“In a piece saturated with dark shades of blue, Picasso drew saddened attention to the man’s hands and ears while leaving his eyes dark,” Parnell wrote. “Pondering the question of what the blind man might actually see behind those dark eyes, we painted a refreshing palette for spring.”

The look: A range of skirts, trousers, shirtdresses and jackets riffing on the notions of traditional painter’s smocks and aprons. Some pieces bore a black-and-white digital pattern that was part Rorschach inkblot and part Morse code (Parnell calls the print “splatter”). Other pieces were printed with vertical smudges of pink and blue inspired by a painting technique called impasto (in which paint is layered thickly onto a canvas).

The collection was heavy on the mixed fabrications and colorblocking, using what appeared to be perforated black leather (or possibly mesh) on the hems and shoulders of peach-colored silk dresses, with wider pieces running vertically from waist to hem on allover print skirts.

The standout piece, in our opinion, was a sheer, white, ankle-length tulle overskirt layered over a white skirt that fell to mid thigh and festooned with several dozen tiny black feathers that seemed to shiver and quiver with each step, a design that Parnell told us had been inspired by the flicking strokes of an artist’s paintbrush.

The scene: Wednesday marked day one of the L.A. Fashion Council’s two-day stand in collaboration with Maker City LA at the Reef (the former L.A. Mart building) at 1933 South Broadway in downtown L.A., and our first impression of that partnership is overwhelmingly positive -- a clean, airy, professional-looking space that allowed presentations and runway shows to unspool efficiently, ample parking (L.A.'s perennial problem) and even a Wi-Fi connection (the better to get those catwalk photos uploaded).

The verdict: If the rest of L.A. Fashion Week can go as smoothly -- and serve up a few more finds like William Bradley’s spring and summer 2015 runway collection along the way -- the fact that it’s spread across the better part of two weeks won’t bother us a bit.

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