It was life in the fast lane at the latest student debut show by the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.
For starters, the three-course meal at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel came and went with roller-derby speed. There were succinct orations from both Mayor Tom Bradley, recipient of FIDM's Award of Excellence, and Elden Rasmussen, chairman of Robinson's, who accepted this year's California First Award for the department store chain. And when the works of 12 advance-study graduates hit the runway, they moved with bullet-train precision.
It was the perfect setting for fashions directed at the modern woman of means.
Liana Khakshouri, who shared a Debut '88 award for originality and creativity with Christopher Webb, captured the mood with sweeping silk-satin coats worn over intriguing French-lace separates.
Applause broke out when the 850-strong audience realized they were looking at the designer's "couture" ($2,000 per outfit) lingerie, not formal wear.
Ofelia Montejano, winner of the $1,000 Rick Pallack award, drew raves for high-fashion wool coats, capes, suits and dresses. When she couldn't find the right plaid fabric, she made her own by stitching 600 yards of colorful silk ribbons onto 14 yards of black silk-taffeta, she said later.
Her entire collection, with "some fresh pieces" added, now goes to Washington for the Hispanic Designers gala Sept. 15.
"I've been asked to share the spotlight with Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Adolfo and Paloma Picasso," explained Montejano, who was featured in Time magazine's recent cover story on Hispanic culture.
Winner of FIDM'S Bob Mackie award last year, Montejano has been "free-lancing for years," making, among other things, wedding and prom dresses.
Her ideal customers are "creative-minded career women between 25 and 60." And, Montejano added: "I can see my garments hanging next to Ungaro's at Bullocks Wilshire."
Other FIDM students had the same customer, if not the same store destination, in mind.
Jan Salcido, dubbed designer with the greatest commercial potential, showed sophisticated sportswear based on leather and plaid wool. Stephanie Schiff specialized in Angora and wool knit separates. Robert Ragasa and Rosa Chin used rich fabric mixes for their very feminine sportswear collections. And Gary Trin used the money from his Jakob Schlaepfer scholarship to create French-inspired evening clothes in chiffon, organza, satin, taffeta and velvet.
In a funkier vein, Cathya Blankley, winner of the $1,000 Fred Hayman award, combined lace, leather and spandex for saucy designs. Loralee Dreibus added brightly colored plastic trinkets and garters to her cotton-knit separates. And Christopher Webb topped squiggle-printed Lycra body suits and leggings with quilted satin skirts and pants for an updated Cat Woman look.
Mendige Lederman covered her award-winning Lycra swimwear with glamorous organza coats. And Kathryn Kearny wrapped up the show with a flamboyant collection of hats and cocktail dresses reminiscent of haute couturier Christian Lacroix.
True, there weren't any fashions for men or kids and not a single wedding gown. But the show did begin with romantic theater costumes, including an impressive peach-and-blue Watteau gown (circa 1770) by Sandrine Deschamp. Additional elaborate period pieces were designed by Erin Siggard, Kathryn Harris, Lise Heads and Elysse Prendergast.