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Nancy Heller, Fred Hayman Earn Design, Fashion Awards

September 23, 1987|BETTIJANE LEVINE | Times Fashion Editor

Designer Nancy Heller won the 1987 California Designer Award Monday night in a ceremony that should have been the highlight of the spring-fashion showings that were presented by the California Mart this week.

A capacity crowd of retail executives, designers, local and out-of-town press, as well as partisans for each of the 10 nominated designers was packed into the Leo S. Bing Theater of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

But what looked to be a firecracker of an evening somehow fizzled. The presentation lacked the passion--and the imagination--that fuels the work of the nominees, and also fuels this city's $9.9-billion fashion industry.

Styles by each of the 10 nominees were shown on the runway in separate segments, which could have given the audience an excellent idea of each designer's accomplishments. But it takes more than a change of music to delineate the difference between Georges Marciano's aggressive, French-Western wear for Guess? and Leon Max's subtle, easy styles. As the publisher of an East Coast life-style magazine later remarked, many of the nominees' clothes look more interesting in real life than they did on the runway.

Heller, along with designers Carole Little, Leon Max, Susie Tompkins of Esprit, Georges Marciano for Guess?, Nancy Johnson of Prisma, Chistine Albers, Jessica McClintock, Karen Alexander and Kevan Hall were the nominees.

Fred Hayman, owner of Giorgio, Beverly Hills, and father of Giorgio fragrances for men and women (which was recently sold to Avon), was the 1987 recipient of the Fashion Achievement Award. Pepito Albert won the Rising Star Award as best new design talent of the year.

The most gratifying aspect of the evening was the announcement that the sculpted lead-crystal awards, designed by Steven V. Correia, are now called Rudis. They are named for the late designer Rudi Gernreich, a futurist and iconoclast. Perhaps his memory will inspire more adventurous presentations of these annual awards in coming years.

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