The Los Angeles Theater in downtown Los Angeles–Host location for GenArt
Photos by Tom Wallace
Story by Kathleen Gasperini

Los Angeles Fashion Week has always had its critics, especially from fashion editors out of New York, Paris, and London, and industry sponsors–right up to the time that IMG and Smashbox Studios Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week called it quits after last Fall’s Fashion Week. Which meant that this time, Los Angeles Fashion Week was sort of up for grabs if someone could pull it off. Boxeight, the small fashion event organization, stepped in yet again. Having always hosted another version of LA Fashion Week in downtown Los Angeles that challenged the “west side’s” Smashbox version, they basically had it to themselves, which caused much chaos in terms of organization and which will probably be reflected in heated fashion magazine articles in the near future. But coming from street culture fashion, we know how to make our way without the couture glove treatment, and the bottom line is that they did pull it off.

This time, LA Fashion Week was hosted in the unbelievably gorgeous yet decaying glamour of the Los Angeles Theatre on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. For those unfamiliar with this location, it was quite appropriate given the state of the economy and trends towards bringing back vintage sparkle during the somewhat apocalyptic mood of the industry. But it’s interesting when a venue attracts more attention and delivers more inspiration in some ways, than the actual show it’s hosting. (I’ve found this can sometimes happen at trade shows too, such as parts of Bread & Butter, and when it does, I’m always truly amazed and wonder if the producers realize this just happened.) The Los Angles Theatre is sandwiched among many truly spectacular theatres lining Broadway in various states of disrepair which in the daytime, turns into a Latino street vendors%uFFFD dream, and at night, a refuge for the homeless. Given that our office is only 3 blocks away, we’re well-acquainted with this ‘hood, but it was downright in-your-face, forcing the question of the very meaning of “fashion” today, to see the dichotomy of rocker-hipster guys and sequined women with various feather hair accessories, standing in line to enter on the same shared sidewalk where the less fortunate beg for bus change.

GenArt red carpet in the Los Angeles Theater

Once inside, it hits you that you’re not in the Paris or Bryant Park fashion tents, but experiencing the ghosts of a more glamorous, Hollywood era complete with huge chandeliers, gold-leafed paintings, ornate woodwork, 3 floors down to a lower level with a red glass ceiling, and all done in dark wood paneling. The main show took place in the jewelbox theatre with red curtains and a curving balcony, making the Los Angeles Theatre the perfect backdrop for the 3 featured designers that kicked-off LA Fashion Week at GenArt, including Grai, Society for Rational Dress, and Raquel Allegra.

We have broken this story out into 3 pieces. This is the first, featuring grai, followed by Part 2 featuring Society for Rational Dress, then Part 3 featuring Raquel Allegra–all designers from the opening night, the GenArt LA Fashion Fashion Show on March 13.

First, Grai’s Fall/winter 09 collection played on the concept that Goth is making a comeback, but in a less distressed, decaying castle motif. With black jersey, leather, and long flutter skirts for example, grai crosses boundaries of darkness and the future. Key silhouettes included flutter sleeves and contrast bias gowns worn with “Seraphina” batwing knot back leather jackets. Black hunter jackets and satin bias pants were topped with a a layer piece including a twill/leather jacket. Deep v-neck tops with and jumpsuits were also among the highlights.

The models’ hair matched the mood created by the collection and the music with slicked back styles pointing into a V-shape in the back. Key trends for the men’s collection included low-crotch tight pants, leather trench coats, or moto jackets. Color palettes of deep black, grey, dark browns, silver and gold, and green-tinged leather combined with so many bias cuts, long sleeves, and long skirts gave grai a futuristic, almost apocalyptic feel.

Check the next two stories on Society for Ration Dress and Raquel Allegra for more from GenArt%uFFFDs show.