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Winning Lines

The CaliforniaMart Designer Awards--Complete With Runway Show and Celebrity Models--Honor Los Angeles' Rising Stars and Fashionable Veterans

October 06, 1998|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Here's a sooo SoCal story for ya, straight from the fashion front lines at Sunday night's CaliforniaMart Designer Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The Rising Star of the Year winner, Cynthia Vincent, kinda, sorta, more or less had a feeling she would take home the hourglass-shaped crystal trophy for her St. Vincent line.

She's no clairvoyant, but Vincent said her friend and fellow nominee Monah Li "told me her psychic told her I was gonna win. She told me two weeks ago."

Do you believe in that kind of thing? we asked the designing diva after she was honored by the CaliforniaMart, the largest apparel and accessory mart in the country.

"Now I guess I should," she said, surrounded by her beaming family, including parents Dick and Ethel Vincent, grandmother Rebeca Reza and siblings Gisel and Omar, after the prize was announced.

Fashion psychics aside, Vincent was recognized by the Mart's voting committee for her design innovation and her company's potential for growth in the women's wear industry in California. The other nominees in her field were Li (Monah Li), Betty Kim and William Sung (Bette Paige), Dana Dartez (26 Red Sugar), and Shawn Janet and Craig Harwood (State of the Heart).

Also honored at the black-tie event--complete with designer cheering squads and the loud clinking of silverware on glass whenever a fashion fave hit the runway--was Trina Turk for her chic, classic designs that last for more than a season. Turk beat out four other design companies--Judy and Denny Rabineau (MICA), William Beranek (William B.), Gregg and Holly Fiene (XOXO), and Rozae Nichols, whose company is named after her.

Receiving the Fashion Performance Award for significant contributions to fashion merchandising and retailing was Ron Herman of Fred Segal Melrose. Said Herman, after accepting the award: "Fashion is not what we do--it is who we are."

A co-winner was E! Entertainment Television, a company cited for its influence within the fashion industry and which began its fashion foray in TV land four years ago with a 30-minute show purchased from Canada.

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The event benefited the Starlight Children's Foundation, which received a $20,000 check from CalMart--which houses more than 10,000 lines in 1,500 showrooms. A portion of the proceeds from an auction sponsored by the Downtown Arts Development Assn. went to the foundation.

Guests arrived at the fashion fete in designer duds ranging from Donna Karan to vintage thrift-store finds, from feathered boas to floor-length faux fur--for the dinner and show that concluded in time to catch the 11 o'clock news.

Causing a camera stir at the predinner schmoozefest were celebrity models, actresses Carmen Electra, Traci Bingham, Maria Bello and Hunter Tylo, who posed for photos with several designers, including XOXO owners Gregg and Holly Fiene. Gregg was honored over the weekend with the Man of the Year Award presented by the Fashion Guild of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Also on hand, mixing politics with fashion, was Mayor Richard Riordan, who, after seeing the first half of the fashion show that included models with chaotic coifs, said: "If Sebastian is here, I'd like to have him come to City Hall and redo my hair."

Riordan, who presented the Fashion Performance awards, thanked the fashion industry for providing the city with manufacturing jobs, a robust wholesale base and a strong "anchor for our downtown."

"The world looks to Los Angeles for what is new and for what is next in the world, from the Internet to the space shuttle, the fortune cookie, Bugs Bunny and the latest fashions," he said.

Throughout the evening, designers and the fashionable folks behind CalMart talked about L.A.'s very important role in the industry.

"We are glad to be a part of the fashion community in Los Angeles," said Fran Shea, senior vice president of programming for E! "This city has a diverse and exciting group of people and designers, and it's great to see designers come into their own right now."

While clutching her award, Vincent--a size 12 who creates for every shape and age--thought out loud about what comes next: more orders, more work, a bigger work space to move into--and maybe, down the road, designer of the year.

Is that a psychic prediction?

"Let's just call it a goal," she said.

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