ROCK 'N' ROLL: White Trash Beautiful, for women, was introduced… (Christina House / For The…)
This season, thanks to a fractured all-spokes-and-no-hub calendar, Los Angeles Fashion Week felt a lot like panning for gold: much sifting through muddy water resulting in just a few valuable nuggets, all the while hoping to hit the mother lode. But there were some finds that made it worth wading into.
It wouldn't be a true Los Angeles Fashion Week — the twice-yearly effort to showcase clothing designers' wares on the runway for the benefit of retail buyers and fashion press — without some manner of celebrity clothing line hitting the catwalk. This time out it was White Trash Beautiful, a new contemporary women's line by designer Nikki Lund and Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora that unspooled as part of Los Angeles Fashion Weekend at Sunset Gower Studios on March 19, an event which also happened to mark the runway modeling debut of Sambora's 12-year-old daughter (with Heather Locklear) Ava Sambora.
Although the pieces in the collection included barely there skirts and skintight motorcycle pants as well as more formal floor-length gowns, the overall feel was unmistakably that of groupie wear -- as if Sambora's contributions to the line might have come from years of wailing away on his guitar and staring into the audience, with Lund's design skills channeling his impressions into a collection that touched on every rock-'n'-roll dirty-girl cliché: leopard-print leggings, skintight zebra-print tops, raw-edged distressed-leather ponchos, top hats, polka dots, sparkly capes, bias-cut pieces and a definitely not-safe-for-work zipper fetish that included vertical pubic-region zip closures.
A more modest use of zippers was as edging for ruffles on a floor-length gown and a cloud of zipper metal at the midriff, creating a memorable Judy Jetson meets "Jersey Shore" vibe that was easily the standout piece of the night.
It's too early to tell if Concept, a two-day fashion week event that was cobbled together in just a few short weeks (and of which the Los Angeles Times was one of several media sponsors) will turn out to be a rare, precious metal or fool's gold, although organizers said they are already planning a sophomore outing for October).
Menswear was the standout at Concept's first-night hodgepodge of presentations and runway shows on Monday. Upstairs at the recently renovated bank building at 453 S. Spring St., newcomer Kyle Ing's line Farm Tactics was neatly presented among taxidermied llamas and other barn-like accoutrements. The 26-year-old Bay Area native's collection of pants, vests, button-down shirts and moccasins is a strong nod to American heritage labels. Ing said he manufactures everything in downtown L.A. and sources vintage fabrics to make one-of-a-kind backpacks and messenger-style bags that look like a cross between an army rucksack and a horse saddle (as an added touch, the bags were displayed inside the former bank building's vault).
Downstairs on the runway, the most impressive point of the evening was the B Scott show. Designer Brandon Scott's line of well-tailored wool jackets, understated waxed denim pants and double shawl collar cardigans had a hip-hop edge and street sensibility and are ultimately what every guy wants to wear, as did a few stylish women in the audience who expressed the desire to don the jackets in smaller sizes.
Although the second-night line-up at Concept was decidedly dark (note: while severed pig heads make a statement, it's not necessarily a fashion statement), there were some bright spots.
Jen Awad, who launched her namesake collection at the BOXeight shows a year ago, mixed moody, "Matrix"-style futurism with 1940s Vargas girl looks -- which translated into faux leather dresses, coats and boleros dripping with fringe made from strands of faux pearls. The young designer went even more literal with her '40s references with a series of fit-and-flare dresses with deep sweetheart necklines done up in eye-popping jewel tones (styled with those big, curled '40s bang and fingerless leatherette gloves). The overall effect was slightly jarring -- should those two genres ever collide? But Awad should be commended for giving it a go, and pulling out some memorable looks.
Veteran L.A. brand MartinMartin followed the same goth-inspired path it has been on for a few seasons -- and if the designers had forced themselves to edit the massive collection to around half its current size (the show went on for ages), they would have ended up with a tight array of dramatic, post-apocalyptic-vibed pieces.