While fashion forecasters say there will be pants in every woman's wardrobe come September, students at local design schools preferred flounced and floral skirts at recent graduation shows.
Student models wore heels, hats and gloves with outfits they had designed, and hemlines were usually short. Menswear designs were mostly casual, with soft, flowing lines and slightly oversize proportions.
At the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, the 24th annual Woodbury University show included slide projections, neon lighting and, at one point, a multicolored cloud of smoke. Overall, the designs lived up to their elaborate presentation.
Senior Gabriella Quintero attached a scarf to the broad-shouldered jacket of her black lamb's wool and mohair suit, and topped it all with a black gaucho-style hat. The skintight miniskirt put a sexy '80s edge on a soft '40s look. Perfect office-to-dinner material, the outfit won in the Suited Spectrum category.
Quintero walked off with two other prizes, for resort and evening wear, but it was 19-year-old freshman Frederick Alexander who went home with the Best of Show award.
Alexander's winning floor-length, black velvet gown was embroidered with tiny pearls that made it look like a slice of midnight sky.
At the California Mart auditorium, Santa Monica College students made up in design what they lacked in special effects. Senior Michelle Claudel showed a gift for mixing bold patterns. Winning students were given cash prizes, donated by sponsors, totaling $2,025, and Claudel went home with $650.
Her taffeta jacket with colorful satin stripes and matching asymmetrical sash was worn over a straight black moire taffeta skirt. This outfit won first prize in evening wear and Best of Show. Claudel topped it off with a hat in the shape of a painter's palette, made of cardboard, felt and brushes.
"The money's sitting in the bank. When I spend it, it will be to make new clothes," she said.
Danielle Dahan's black-and-white striped cotton knit ensemble did not win a prize, but caused quite a stir when a male model knelt before the female model and slipped his hands under the sides of her mini. Some gasps were audible in the audience, but were turned to laughter when he pulled the mini down to maxi length (an innovative way to deal with the hemline controversy).
Carlo Gholami put zip into his elegant men's suits with details like satin pocket trimmings and unusually shaped lapels. Some of his fabric had a reflective quality that made the rich, dark suits seem luminescent. Odds are good that he might have won first, second and third in menswear even if he hadn't been the only designer in the category.
Over in the ballroom of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the American College for the Applied Arts hosted its first major student-design show.
Senior Saori Ukishima's broad-shouldered pantsuits of gray wool with black trim were outstanding; the red rose pins were a nice touch.
The collection of three suits won Ukishima the Most Outstanding Designer award, in addition to first prize in the senior collections category.
Some of the most glamorous looks, ironically, were in children's wear. Pouf skirts, which seem to have had their day with older folks, still look smashing on people less than four feet tall, as junior Henrica Samudro's gold-and-black party dress demonstrated.
The dress tied for third place in the combination children's/swimwear category. First place went to Carolyn Haith's gold two-piece tank, which came down the aisle to the theme from the movie "Goldfinger."
In the cavernous Sexson Auditorium of Pasadena City College, student Nani Cipponeri showed colorful one-piece swimsuits that look like bikinis, with extra strips of fabric at the stomach. Cipponeri's crisscross motif carried over to the back of her halter-style sailor dress, which won first prize in sportswear.
Best of Show went to Lucy Hananian for her collection of bright-colored skirted suits, each with a glorious hat right out of Ascot opening day.
But the spunkiest look was Julie Vogel's frothy white party dress, trimmed with masses of gloves.