Reporting from LA Fashion Week
March 16, 2010
Many major cities have organizations in various arts, whose activities center around fostering emerging talent. Gen Art has become a large, nation-wide version of this, with headquarters in New York, and branches in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. Capitalizing on its web of industry talent, marketing, business, and celebrity networks, the organization has launched the careers of many, with a tri-fold focus on emerging talent in fashion, film, and music. When it comes to fashion, Gen Art New York, of course, enjoys its strategic position at the center of the ready-to-wear universe, launching the fashion careers of mainstream heavy hitters like Zac Posen and Phillip Lim. With that uneven playing field existing in any case, in some sense this makes the launchpads of organizations like Gen Art’s West Coast branches especially important for the area because they serve as a focal point for emerging designers with talent and commercial potential that are also authentic to the diversity of the west… a kind of filter for singling out some of the best, from a lot of the rest.
The “Hannah Dress” from the Brigid Catiis line,
a contemporary collection of eco-friendly
wares made surprisingly enough from recycled
and vintage fabrics. Photo: Damien Stritapan
At a kickoff event for LA Fashion Week on Tuesday March 16, the spotlight for Gen Art was again on fashion, and seventeen select alumni designers of Gen Art LA who have gone on lately to develop vibrant businesses and strong creative followings. The designers and labels were honored at Hollywood’s historic Roosevelt Hotel, in a celebration held beside the blue glow of the Tropicana pool. Guests and designers mingled, flash bulbs periodically went off like fireworks displays at the paparazzi banner. The lights were on and blinds drawn on the 2nd floor suite where Marilyn Monroe once lived, and the weather was even more cooperative than usual on what felt like a summer night.
Each designer tailored one look for the event, some choosing rather playful designs, with model and designer circulating among the crowds. Included among the participating designers & labels were the eco-friendly Brigid Catiis, Geren Ford, Louis Verdad, and Society for Rational Dress. Gen Art’s cadre served as a reminder that there is a lot of highly creative work going on here despite New York’s hegemony of fashion line development money and glossy press coverage that is largely for sale to the biggest advertisers, and that folks like Gen Art VP Jennifer Egan are unwavering in their leadership of an LA working to define its place on the globe. I asked Egan for her thoughts on this:
Designer Geren Ford poses with model
wearing a signature look. Photo: WireImage
Although gen art is based in NY, it is my strong belief that some of the most important and long lasting trends start in Los Angeles. We are known for denim and juicy coutoure but this is not the case at all. Los Angeles is such a geographically diverse city, there are looks and lines that are coming out of each of the city’s areas which are not only integral to the industry at large but are able to maintain artisitic integrity while striking a balance with vision and commerical viablity. We are the number one apparel manufacturing center in the nation and are not even on the [global] fashion calendar. It is part of my life’s work and gen art’s mission to shine a spotlight on the Los Angeles based designers from a global perspective as they are undeniably a part of the fabric that builds the international community at large.
Egan has not left the Pacific Northwest untouched by her eagle eye for designers with potential, long serving as one of Project Runway’s casting eyes on the West Coast. In recent years Portland has seen three of its designers make it to the show, with at least one winner (we’ll know if it’s two by April 22nd).
See the slideshow for some who’s-who and what’s-what on this celebratory evening.
And for a look at some of those trend projections, stay tuned for coverage of the Directives West trends show after Friday.
For more info: Gen Art, Brigid Catiis, Geren Ford, Louis Verdad, Society for Rational Dress.
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