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.