Although most cities are home to a single fashion week each season, Los Angeles is home to several. The most recent run of independently organized, occasionally overlapping style-centric events began March 9 with Style Fashion Week Los Angeles at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood and wrapped March 19 with the final day of LA Fashion Week shows (because of trademark protection, it’s the only group that can use the LA Fashion Week name). Here are a few of the highlights that came courtesy of some of the designers and brands with ties to the City of Angels.
Style Fashion Week Los Angeles, which featured 15 designers over four days (March 9-12), showcased a quartet of local talent on its March 10 runway — Antonella Commatteo, David Tupaz, Richard Hallmarq and Mario De La Torre, the last of which made an impression thanks to the impressive use of vinyl in a futuristic collection that included jumpsuits, catsuits, dresses, pants and capes in materials that moved like liquid metal and monochromatic head-to-toe looks in colors that included red, purple, silver, black and white.
De La Torre’s fall/winter 2017 collection, called “Into the Darkness,” was inspired, he said, “by women and the change they are creating all around the world. We are designing for the woman who wants to be seen, who isn’t afraid to be bold — the woman who is comfortable in her own skin and feels beautiful.” To underscore that inspiration, the phrase, “The Future Is Female,” projected onto the runway backdrop during the finale, echoing sentiments that began on the Dior spring/summer 2017 runway last September and were in full force during the recent fall/winter 2017 shows in New York.
Trend-wise, the March 10 slate of runway shows, which included a noteworthy boho-chic fall/winter 2017 Shahida Parides collection by Tucson-based designer Shahida Clayton, was heavy on the capes, with almost every designer serving up some version of the stylish outerwear.
Art Hearts Fashion staged its shows March 14-17 at the Beverly Hilton, and the shows March 16 opened with Kim Camarella-Khanbeigi’s plus-size brand Kiyonna (headquartered in Anaheim Hills and manufactured locally), presenting dresses and evening separates in an autumnal palette of jewel tones and black. What stood out was the designer’s use of lace, cold-shoulder cuts and strategically placed ruching to camouflage love handles or unwanted bulges with a ripple effect.
In the mix that same evening was L.A. label Philthy Ragz, which sent out an in-season collection of 10 monochromatic looks. The drapey tops, dresses and jumpsuits by designer Gaynelle White, intended to flatter all shapes and sizes, did not shy away from showing some skin in the form of plunging necklines, cropped tops and side or back cutouts. Though the occasional stray nipple and “back boob” bunching signaled fit misses, a few sophisticated jumpsuits deftly married universal flattery with fashion.
There was some celebrity star power in the house too — most notably in the form of Grammy-winning singer CeeLo Green, who turned up to support long-time partner Shani James, who walked the runway for the Philadelphia-based Burning Guitars label (also spotted doing a catwalk turn was actor Darius McCrary of “Family Matters”) and pop star Britney Spears, who arrived with boyfriend Sam Asghari to cheer on the latter’s sister Farzaneh, who was making her runway debut in the Stello show.
Formerly known as MTCostello (before a 2015 rebranding), the made-to-order, made-in-L.A. label designed by Stephanie Costello delivered an abundance of show-stopping, form-fitting gowns; many with slits up to there, necklines down to there or peek-a-boo details. The lineup opened with an array of dresses in ink-black velvet, some accessorized with sculptural woven metal crowns and neck pieces by Arizona-based Clutch Jewelry, adding a futuristic edge. (The evening also marked the introduction of menswear line Sir Stello, a collaborative effort with New York-based, L.A.-raised designer Viktor Luna that spanned the spectrum from standout black-tie suiting (think tangerine with metallic sheen) to centipede-bedecked T-shirts and leather moto jackets.
LA Fashion Week had plenty of local talent on tap at Hubble Studio in Boyle Heights. The highlight of the March 18 slate was Pasadena-based label Vicken Derderian. Designer Derderian’s architectural background shone through in a focus on volume and geometric structure, accompanied by texture-rich knits from design partner Kyung Hwa Kim. (The phrase “effortless elegance” comes to mind.) Forget the frills, this collection was all about easygoing trousers, cocooning tops, and roomy dresses and skirts with no superfluous embellishment in a color scheme of soft neutrals with deep steel blue and burgundy added to the comforting mood. Details such as a discreet row of buttons down the back of a top or a skirt that unexpectedly flowed open behind a model as she walked followed like a self-assured flirtation.
Also of note was Edwin Haynes’ unisex downtown-L.A.-based Sav Noir line. The fall/winter 2017 collection’s black-and-white clothes were a study in dualism — white “snow leopard”-print denim blazers, jackets, trousers and skirts for day, and black-sequined cheetah patterns on mesh tops and dresses for after-hours. The animalistic vibe continued with furry alpaca knits offsetting the seductive constraints of glossy vinyl jumpsuits, corset tops and skirts. Harness straps reinvented leather trousers and a moto jacket, a focal point for the brand, while hard met soft in vinyl leaf appliqués on plush black velvet. (Haynes’ wares — think $225 denim shirts and $3,350 ponyhair moto jackets — will soon be available at a Melrose Avenue pop-up shop that the 33-year-old designer is planning to open in May).
Closing out Los Angeles fashion week — both upper and lowercase versions — at Hubble Studio was the runway debut of a collaborative collection from “Project Runway” veteran Candice Cuoco and “Growing Up Hip Hop” star Vanessa Simmons that, in true Hollywood fashion, was being filmed for Simmons’ reality TV show.
The Bad Butterfly collection was a mix of girly and edgy. The former came by way of dresses in ultra-feminine silhouettes and romantic floral patterns and ruffled tulle skirts. The latter by way of studded chokers, over-the-knee boots and denim jackets. One standout piece was a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Filthy Feminist” — a riff on the feminism-focused slogan tees that have filled runways recently.
If that’s the statement you want to make, you’re in luck. The statement tee happens to be among the handful of Bad Butterfly pieces that have already winged their way to Cuoco’s website, where it’s available for $35.