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in Brief

Cutting-Edge Clothes and Music at Ritual Expos

July 09, 1999|BOOTH MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Ritual Fashion and Music Expo will celebrate its two-year anniversary with an indoor fashion and music event Sunday.

Former editor of UHF magazine Jed Wexler and co-founders Patrick Courrielche and Haaji began holding the weekly club-like fashion and music expos to provide a place for people to buy streetwear from independent-minded California labels like Fine, Epoch and Black Flys, while being exposed to DJ culture, record labels and artists.

"We started Ritual because the clothing was hard to find, funky and, it turns out, relevant because these companies have gotten bigger."

Now Ritual is held during the day to make underground culture (usually best experienced from midnight until 8 a.m.) accessible.

Wexler believes California has opened up the streetwear movement in fashion by creating different niche markets, including swing, techno, rave, independent hip-hop, skater and surf.

"New York looks to us for design details and active wear," he explains. "Little by little, our small companies are influencing the big guys. You will see a racing stripe in Donna Karan that was started by Fresh Jive." The event will be held Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., at the Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

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Tuning Up: Speaking of streetwear, Vibe, Spin and Blaze magazines are beefing up their fashion editorial content. Publisher John Rollins has appointed Emil Wilbekin fashion editorial director for the three titles. He will be charged with creating a clear fashion editorial philosophy for the magazines, to greater define their relationships with music, fashion and culture.

"Music is the driving force in popular culture and its relationship to fashion has become increasingly intimate," says Wilbekin. "Overseeing the fashion in Vibe, Spin and Blaze gives me the opportunity to work with three diverse musical genres that are influenced by fashion and profoundly impacting the world and the way we see it."

Wilbekin has served at Metropolitan Home magazine, the Associated Press, People and the Chicago Tribune. He has written for Rolling Stone and Emerge magazines.

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Closing the Gap: Cynthia Rowley is about to make staying in the hospital a little less stressful. The designer has created a new line of hospital wear exclusively for the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

Instead of the standard gown (with a notoriously open backside), Rowley's designs will restore dignity to patients by offering them complete coverage, comfort and style.

Rowley was commissioned to make the gowns after submitting sketches for a hospital fund-raiser last year. The gowns come in different styles for women, men, girls, boys, nursing mothers and infants.

"I have always believed that what one wears on the outside affects the way they feel about themselves on the inside," Rowley said. "I designed these gowns as a way to help improve the dignity and self-respect of hospital patients."

The new gowns will arrive at the Medical Center in the fall.

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A Swell Finale: The Swell Store on La Brea Avenue, largely responsible for putting Hush Puppies shoes back on the fashion map in the mid-'90s, has shut its doors for good. Joel Fitzpatrick, a former sculptor and lighting designer who opened the Swell Store in 1994, would not return phone calls over the past week.

His Hush Puppies clientele included such celebrities as rock musician David Bowie and actress Susan Sarandon. The two-room store also featured streetwear for men and women by up-and-coming L.A. designers.

Both Swell locations in New York City are also closed. No word on whether Fitzpatrick's own apparel line, Pleasure Swell, will outlive the stores.

Booth Moore can be reached by e-mail at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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