LA Fashion Week: Treading Water

LA Fashion Week kicked off on Sunday, overshadowed by news that it will be the last one ever backed by IMG. No one really knows what the shows will look like next season, or even if they’ll still be held at Smashbox Studios, giving this week’s events a slightly somber air. Still, when it comes to the clothes on the runways, it feels like nothing ever changes.

Christian Audigier‘s Ed Hardy show proved that somewhere out there, the market for trucker hats, tattoo-print sweats and glitter-encrusted jeans is still going strong—even if they’ll be churned out in a luminous neon color palette next season. Kevan Hall returned to the runway with yet another series of pretty, yet unremarkable day dresses and evening gowns, while Julia Clancey, one of the highlights of last season, took a step backwards with her spring collection. The vintage-luxe vibe was still present, but flimsy fabrics in bridesmaid dress colors and an overload of sequins and beading cheapened Clancey’s kaftan dresses, diminishing the louche ’70s spirit she seemed to have intended.

Not that all of the shows were so dire. Despite some questionable experiments with pajama pants and gym shorts (not to mention some horrific gym hairdos), Whitley Kros once again nailed that insouciantly disheveled, world-traveler-with-a-trust-fund spirit that LA girls can never get enough of. Suh-Tahn presented a study in contrasts—black vs white, sheer vs opaque, razor-edged lines vs swooping arcs—with a lightness of touch that was lacking last season.

And, once again, Gen Art proved that most of LA’s real talent is found outside the tents, with two separate events: one dedicated to eco-fashion designers and the other being the annual LA Fresh Faces in Fashion show. Local stars KZO, The Battalion and Wayf were joined by newcomers Laeken, Maxine Dillon, Wayne Hadley, Nanushka and Quail. If the next incarnation of LA Fashion Week makes it easier for upstarts like these to get noticed, then IMG’s departure might just be the best thing that could happen to the event.

—Erin Magner

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