Day 1 of the Los Angeles Fashion Council's inaugural run included,… (Kirk McKoy )
L.A. Fashion Week's kickoff event, the first day of newcomer Los Angeles Fashion Council's two-day run of presentations and runway shows at the Carondelet House venue in MacArthur Park, was a reminder that the city is home to a considerable amount of talent.
Not just in terms of the fashion designers, but also in terms of how those movers and shakers continually undertake the Sisyphean task of organizing and launching ever newer efforts to showcase them in a way they deserve.
PHOTOS: L.A Fashion Week
In the latter category is Kelsi Smith, blogger, up-and-coming PR maven and the founder and director of the LAFC, whose choice of the smaller more intimate venue and mid-day schedule was a conscious effort to provide a place where meaningful business could be done.
"I wanted to make a trade show -- but a pretty one," Smith said during a break between the first and second presentations. "I didn't want to throw a party for hipsters ... even if that means there's only 50 people."
Which was just about right -- we counted 47 people in the seats for the first presentation, a population that grew or shrank by about half over the course of the next three collections.
By requiring that the labels keep their collections on site and available to media and buyers throughout the day, the LAFC's format didn't make meaningful interaction with the designers easier -- it made it inevitable.
In the former category were collections by ISM Mode, a sustainable, made-in-L.A. line of soft, structurally draped women's clothing by German-born designer Inka Sherman who explained that the stripes and geometric patterns on her jersey pieces were all hand-dyed. ("I grew up in an artists' commune in Austria," she said by way of explanation.)
Jen Awad, a designer who may well hold some kind of record for showing at every permutation and platform that L.A. Fashion Week has offered, used her ultra-girly spring 2013 Down the Rabbit Hole collection to make a statement.
"This is my response to all the street style that's out there," she said. "I wanted to inject some femininity into it. Going down the rabbit hole is escaping to a fantasy world and this is my fantasy world."
The standout of the first-day collections was Odylyne, a label whose dozen and a half looks were a series of diaphanous dresses that put Native American- and African-inspired designs on the sheerest of draped fabrics that were then belted to achieve a Greco-Roman prairie goddess look (an effect only heightened by the crowns of copper butterflies worn by the models).
The night's singular sour note came with the Bohemian Society runway show. It wasn't that Victor Wilde's fiery phoenix of a men's and women's collection was chock-full of flame-licked leathers, repurposed parachutes and appropriated corporate iconography (including dangling Cadillac logos and Chase Bank's stylized octagon on a jacket patch).
It wasn't even the plastic crucifix necklaces, or the female model clad in a why-bother piece of black mesh we're pretty sure violated all kinds of public nudity ordinances.
No, what left us scratching our heads was why, after all the aforementioned efforts to create a more professional platform, the show started an hour late.
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