Equality Fashion Week launched at Montrose West Hollywood last week, shining a spotlight on six local LGBTQ+ fashion designers and focusing on representation in all its forms. On the rooftop of the recently rebranded boutique hotel (formerly Le Montrose Suite Hotel), models strutted along an inclined runway that featured every color of the pride flag.
This inaugural indie event drew a crowd of about 150 to its opening-night festivities, with attendees representing every part of the queer spectrum. “We’re here tonight to showcase our talent and be happy about who we are!” roared host Carmen Carrera, a model, trans activist and former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant.
Sharpe Suiting sent out natty jackets and trousers in shades of gray, herringbone and gem tones. From femme power suits to bare chest-baring blazers, models showed off sleek lines that gave even the most petite frames a dose of outsize swagger.
By contrast, Lior Boroda seized upon a theme of divine fantasy, showing feathered headdresses, pastel metallic bustiers and lacy floor-length petticoats that transformed models into ethereal dreamscape divas.
Fem/Haus celebrated femme visibility, versatility and body positivity with jet black pieces that alternated among functional and fantastical and fetish.
Dapper Boi offered up gender-neutral shirting that accommodates both full breasts and barrel chests. A few models walked out shirtless to show off jeans that offer what many traditional women’s jeans don’t — deep, fully-functional pockets and waistbands that don’t gap. And for the label’s final look? A ball cap, T-shirt and accompanying shower of stickers, all proclaiming “I’m not a boy” in bold letters.
The event also featured performances by LGBTQ+ musical acts and a peacocking, crowd-working drag king.
EFW is the brainchild of NiK Kacy, a local accessories designer with a corporate event-planning pedigree who sought to carve a niche that was separate from the concurrent Los Angeles Fashion Week and the city’s other fashion weeks.
“Even though we know that there’s a lot of queer people in the fashion industry, when you look at the runway, predominantly, it’s not as diverse and inclusive as it should be,” they said in a phone interview a few hours before the event.
Kacy, who identifies as transmasculine and non-binary, felt that L.A. was in dire need of an LGBTQ+-focused fashion week similar to events they’d attended in New York and the Bay Area.
In L.A., they said, “there’s no time period dedicated to queer designers, models, producers, DJs — everyone that’s involved in our community, who has so much talent to offer, but they’re often underpaid and not as represented.”
In addition to its Friday night debut, the schedule included four successive nights of pop-up experiences at the Montrose. There, shoppers could purchase looks shown at opening night, including pieces from Stuzo Clothing’s bold streetwear line, Kacy’s own collection of gender-equal luxury footwear, plus a few local brands not featured on the runway.
“Most of the focus has been given to people of color, people who are trans or non-binary representing, body positive and age positive,” Kacy said. “We’re trying to be very inclusive and give people who are the most under-represented the first priority.”