With its year-round lifestyle of sand, sea and surf, Los Angeles is a perennial creative touchstone for spring fashion collections.
So it’s no surprise that our local landscape was an inspiration not only for the many L.A.-based designers who showed their spring 2014 collections during New York Fashion Week but for many non-natives too.
J. Crew women’s wear designer Tom Mora was inspired by “the California coast, where it feels like summer all the time,” which translated into an aloha print neoprene flippy skirt, rainbow-stripe silk track pants and a fun, big-wave intarsia sweater. Peter Som described his collection as “downtown surfer girl,” including a blue wave-print tuxedo coat and retro swimsuit.
“It’s Melrose to Malibu,” Tommy Hilfiger said of his collection of scuba dresses, shorts and skirts with zippered waistbands folded over to resemble the inverted-V shape of a peeled down wetsuit. Marc Jacobs’ captain’s jackets, board shorts, Victorian-era embroidered lace gowns and sport sandals suggested a more sinister side of surf, perhaps even shipwreck chic.
Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who live in Pasadena, also seemed to have something darker in mind. Their take on L.A. fell in with the gritty street vibe of Hedi Slimane’s “California Grunge” fall 2013 collection for Saint Laurent, which is in stores now.
More than any specific location or reference it was “the creativity and freedom” of L.A., Laura Mulleavy said of the collection, which nodded to ‘80s and ‘90s punk and heavy metal.
From darkness to domesticity. Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez looked indoors, to L.A.'s sleek Midcentury design for references for their clean and polished suiting, foil-printed skirts and chrome bar-handled clutch bags.
Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg brought a bit of home with him, building an elaborate set piece on his runway, a view of the Hollywood sign from behind with the lights of Los Angeles County glittering below. The starting point for the collection was Robert Altman’s 1973 neo-noir film “The Long Goodbye,” specifically the “sporty, fresh, bohemian” look of heroine Eileen Wade (played by Nina Van Pallandt), Sternberg said backstage, which translated into an après-hike wardrobe of slouchy athletic pants, nylon ponchos and parachute skirts, leather dolphin shorts and crunchy-granola, nylon cord sandals worn with socks.
And, of course, where there are movies being made, there are stars — and designers to dress them, including L.A.'s Juan Carlos Obando, whose colorful silk streamer dresses were intoxicating; Barbara Tfank, whose vision of retro femininity never gets old; and Monique Lhuillier, whose breezy ball gowns and Deco embrodieries are the stuff of red carpet dreams.
“Sophisticated ease,” is how Lhuillier described her collection, which is exactly what L.A. does best.