Los Angeles Fashion Week: beach wear to Hollywood glamour

AS THE lights dim on the final Los Angeles Fashion Week co-produced by Smashbox Studios and IMG, let’s briefly revisit what may be the lasting legacy, as culled from the reviews, critiques, observations and rants the Image staff has been posting to our All the Rage blog (catch up on the full posts there):

The week at Smashbox began with red-carpet glam from Kevan Hall. With a collection evocative of Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Lucille Ball, Hall nodded to classic screen sirens while winking at the town’s new stars, who he hopes will wear his gala-ready gowns.

He also gave a shout-out to the chorus members, with kicky little apple-green tap pants, paired with a green-and-white gingham dance tunic. One could just picture a young Judy Garland reporting to the set in such a get-up, ready to rehearse -- which makes sense since Hall was inspired by Adrian, who famously did costumes for the “Wizard of Oz.”

But Christian Audigier is L.A. fashion’s biggest showman. He had two shows, but he -- and we -- could have gotten by with one. When a male model in Ed Hardy board shorts hit the catwalk cradling a 2-foot-tall can of Ed Hardy energy drink, we couldn’t help but think that even Audigier would have to admit his lifestyle branding juggernaut had jumped the runway shark.

And what is a Spring Fashion Week without a parade of barely there bikinis? Beach Bunny Swimwear had so much lace and sequin trim on those teeny triangle tops it was hard to believe they were waterproof -- though plenty of models sported, ahem, flotation devices.

In the more wearable category, designers Sophia Coloma and Marissa Ribisi, known collectively as Whitley Kros, found their mojo with a sunny, easy collection, emblazoning quirky original artwork on oversized T-shirts, silk tunics and dresses. (Ribisi’s husband, Beck, did some of the neon illustrations.)

Crispin & Basilio designer Donny Barrios also has the L.A. woman pegged. His inspiration was “the blurred lines between relaxed and dressed up,” which describes many women’s wardrobes in this city.

Barrios’ direction may not be unique, but the look was still fresh and inspiring. Beige and ivory chiffon blouses and short dresses were pulled together with navy blue linen vests and dull gold cotton canvas skirts.

Lauren Conrad’s show rivaled traffic school for sheer excitement, offering the same milquetoast jersey pieces we’ve seen in her past collections. Conrad’s fans, for the most part, are teens and tweens, so it makes sense for her to shy away from scary-forward fashion. But we can get more directional looks at Target. As one top Hollywood stylist sitting ringside muttered, “I’m so bored.”

It’s no wonder that some of the most compelling events didn’t happen anywhere near Smashbox Studios. Trovata is known for preppy, coed looks, but the O.C. brand’s party on the roof of the Palihouse in West Hollywood drew a boho crowd that was as stylish as anything we saw all week.

Folksy singer Robert Francis performed live with his band, underscoring the ‘70s-era Joni Mitchell/Cat Stevens vibe. And while the wait staff modeled looks from Trovata, guests were also fashionably dressed, in fringed shawls, floppy hats and -- in their artfully disheveled coifs -- hippie headbands, feathers and oversized silk flowers. A few full-bearded Devendra Banhart clones wandered around in ripped jeans while swilling keg beer.

For Katy Rodriguez’s presentation, a John Lautner house perched high on Mulholland Drive was a cool alternative. The designer curtsied to L.A. culture with Latin- flavored frocks and real women posing as models.

It was an unconventional show, where guests peered at models through the house’s glass walls, bringing to mind Julius Shulman’s famous photograph “Case Study House #22.” And it drew the week’s most enviable list of guests, including Vogue’s Lisa Love, photographer/style maven Lisa Eisner, artist Raymond Pettibon and actor Jared Leto, proving you don’t always need a runway to reach the stylish set.


The Image staff