Many designers are culture vultures, gleaning the Zeitgeist from headlines, art shows and the buzz among the glitterati. Jared Gold is not such a designer. There's a reverence for the wrong and the sinister at Gold's studio, in an early 1900s building just a spat's throw from the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division. Here, Gold has staged fashion shows accessorized with live Madagascar cockroaches and accompanied by toy piano music--played by the designer himself.
"I don't ever read fashion magazines," says the 30-year-old Gold, who grew up Mormon and doesn't smoke or drink. "My line is cloistered, insulated from what other people are doing." He started selling his eponymous collection of whimsical "Victorian-punk" women's wear to Fred Segal while employed there in 1996, adding menswear two years ago to both his couture line and his less-expensive diffusion line, Black Chandelier.