Los Angeles' cultural melting pot came alive on the ramps at two recent college fashion shows, with many of the student designers using elements of traditional ethnic costumes in their clothes.
The Pasadena City College and Brooks College shows were 'round-the-world smorgasbords of fashion, from gaucho-inspired pantsuits to Caribbean-bright resort wear to silk Mandarin dresses to a country & Western-flavored evening suit.
Instructor Jennifer Orsini, introducing the Pasadena show, noted that every continent was represented among her 20 design students. "The students brought their own cultures into play," she said of the clothes.
But this is not to say that more common designs were ignored. Kesara Hakritsuk, winner in both suit and special-occasion categories in Pasadena, jumped from a sailor suit with wide, ankle-length pants to a pink gaucho embellished with black roses and piping and extra fabric at the sides of the pants to simulate chaps.
Another double winner at Pasadena, Tricia Angerhofer, took her cues from the past with a 1940s look. "I wanted that look, that Lauren Bacall elegance," she said. "I like the old classics."
She combined polka dots and stripes in a blue-and-white dress with scooped sides that showed just a touch of flesh. In the sportswear category, Angerhofer made a simple and graceful statement with a long, loose-fitting pantsuit combined with a huge, navy-and-white scarf.
Student Tran Ly won in the cocktail dress category for a black bubble dress with lace.
Pasadena's best of show went to Janel Thurber for a black jacket with soft flower sculptures in silk. The back of the coat was a virtual bouquet, and a fringe of fuchsia buds dangled from the sleeves.
Many of the other designs, while not award winners, were noteworthy nonetheless. These included a yellow-and-black '50s dress, designed by Cindy Fuerte, which looked ready for the hop, and Jane Sisa-at's sweeping suit coat. There were several kimono-inspired dresses in the show and very wide, straight-legged pants seemed a constant.
At Brooks, student Lashawn Moore was a standout for her daytime-dress award winner. Her very urbane purple suit, with horizontal pleats on the fitted knee-length skirt, was one of the most wearable outfits in the show. She also showed a pantsuit and dress in the same color.
Blue Bianco, winner in sportswear for men, went against the trend toward shorter jackets with a knee-brushing sports coat combined with very, very baggy trousers, all in a comfortable linen look.
In the after-5 segment at Brooks, Robin Daoang won for her East Indian pantsuits in coppery tones. Best of show went to Arnel C. Salonga, whose flowing all-white creations first attracted the eye for their movement but upon closer inspection, offered such treats as a half-sheer, half-opaque blouse and embroidery.
In the bridal segment, Linda Frazier won for wedding and bridesmaid dresses that were convertible for other occasions. Nellie Plucker won for her children's sailor suits; Denise Paulino's red tights took the theatrical award; Anne Bruno won for her swimwear, and Georgianna Johnson won for her glittery evening wear.
Other notables included Tamara Jasperson, who used colorful molas (fabric pictures made by and traditionally worn by Panamanian Indians) in her resort wear, and Arlin Rodriguez, who included Elizabethan collars for men.