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The Scene

Having Clothes Encounters With the Fashionistas

November 09, 2001|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES FASHION WRITER

Nursing a martini in the lobby of the Los Angeles Theater, Art Ramirez was having a Derek Zoolander moment.

"Once I really thought that fashionista--you know, the word," he says, executing imaginary quote marks in the air, "meant, like, it was someone who had a fashion disease, like a shopaholic. Seriously."

Ramirez, 22, a club promoter and wannabe designer known as "Ram" to friends, laughs at himself so hard that he heats up.

"I don't know why I wore these clothes today," he says, decked out in a Superfly rabbit fur-trimmed thrift store coat, patchwork leather trousers with a lace-up crotch and combat boots in need of a spit shine. "It must be 90 degrees in here."

For a moment, forget the runways with their dictatorial looks. Witness, instead, L.A. style that begins on the street, on walking billboards like Ram.

For avant-garde, street style, fashion show hopping hipsters, dressing the part--wickedly cool and free-spirited--is a no-brainer. And the many fashion events this week unleashed scores of other uncensored fashion mavericks who reflect the city's eclectic style.

Everything from religious iconic print coats to skimpy muscle T-shirts to leather and pleather, mini and maxi, underwear as outerwear, ruled off the runway.

The shows, after all, are about who, what, when and wear.

And the hands flying backstage tending to details of putting on a show. In every corner, someone is doing something: stitching, steaming, ironing. Models, in various stages of undress, are getting combed, dabbed, moisturized, glossed and made up for that no-makeup look.

Out front, the fashion throng has stampeded in--after noshing on hors d'oeuvres and downing cheap wine only to wait, and wait, for the show to begin.

But it's the waiting game that gives fashion week its party vibe as guests schmooze and booze, aiming digital cameras at each other and the notables sitting front row at various shows.

Look, there's Tori Spelling, Lisa Marie, Dominique Swain, Jasmine Guy, Paula Abdul and rocker Anthony Kiedis with his girlfriend/designer Yohanna Logan. Other L.A. designer sightings: Magda Berliner, Estevan Ramos, Henry Duarte, Charlie Lapson, Mona Thalheimer and Monah Li. Also about town were stylists Jessica Pastor, Vincent Boucher and Tod Hallman.

Still, it's the clothes encounters of the young and restlessly fashionable like Cindy Zhang that satisfies our fashion fix.

The 26-year-old student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising spent several days making her Josie and the Pussycats-inspired outfit: a floor-length orange and white coat dress with cutouts, a faux fur collar, platform boots and a purse crafted from a Fendi shopping bag.

In less than two hours, Thai Nguyen, 20, also a student at the fashion institute, sewed his ensemble: a fitted turtleneck shirt and flared denim jeans, both stitched with rows and rows of pin tucking.

"And I bleached my hair, too," he says of waking up and wanting to sew an outfit before attending a full day of shows.

Rosalind Nelson, a Malibu real estate broker, had her do spiked by stylist Michael Ahmeti who used steam paddles and gluey hair products to create an Xtreme patchy porcupine look that turned heads.

"You can't look like you're unsure of yourself with this kind of look," says Nelson, who adds that confidence is the key to carrying off the coif she spikes daily simply "because I love fashion."

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