Reporting from LA Fashion Week
March 17, 2010
Wednesday night at The Standard in LA, Fashion Group International held a fundraising party for its scholarship program called The Designer & The Muse. As the name implies, the evening featured designers (some forty or so) and their personal or celebrity muses. Among them was Lloyd Klein and his muse Natalie Cole, Sue Wong, and Raiisa Gerona, who’s eco-friendly line (Brigid Catiis) I focused on for ecofashionworld.com at the Gen Art Alumni Celebration earlier this week. Laughing as she described the red carpet arrivals, “I had a smile on but partly because it’s just scary.” Paparazzi photographers can be a bossy lot.
Classic Fashion Designer James Galanos. Photo: C.Cone
Greek-American fashion icon James Galanos was a special guest, the classic designer and former couturier for Diana Ross, Rosalind Russel, and Nancy Reagan. He’s been retired for some 12 years now, but it didn’t stop him from castigating the industry in 2002 in Womens Wear Daily for catering too much to half-naked young twigs with his infamous remark, “How many women can wear just a patch over their crotch and a bra!? … and I’m not squeamish. God knows I made sexy clothes in my day, but there’s a point when you have to say, `Enough, already.”‘ I can tell James Galanos has a great deal of life experience, however I cannot tell that James Galanos will be 86 years old this year. He has both a bounce in his step, and that air of absolute undeliberated ease at a (literally) flashy event like this, something less apparent on most. An interviewer from Elle.com complimented him on his immaculate suit… “Ohhh I’m just trying to keep up.”
Spontaneous interviews in the packed event at The Standard. Designer Lloyd
Klein with his muse Natalie Cole. Photo: C.Cone
As some fashion-veterans in Portland may recall, Fashion Group International had a Portland branch for over 50 years starting in 1948. Vivian McInerny, who wrote on fashion for years at the Oregonian commented, “About 10 or more years ago, they started trying to attract a younger crowd to join but by then the organization consisted [chiefly] of retired fashion biz people and [there was not enough interest].” I spoke with former Portland Regional FGI Director Nancy Taylor by phone, and despite FGI’s clout as an overall organization (particularly in large markets like NY, LA, Chicago, et al.), her story rang strikingly familiar for just about anyone trying to run an independent fashion organization in Portland these days. Regional offices do most if not all of their own fundraising, Taylor said. She recalled, “You know how it is, there were a lot of amazing people involved, but a fraction of us were doing 90% of the work and the corporate sponsorship just wasn’t there.” Kudos to everyone carrying the torches in Portland today.
Taylor is truly smitten with the spirit and talent of Portland independent fashion these days, and the way that indie & high fashion is gaining ground. She lamented, however, the way that sportswear, while a great business to have here in itself, casts such a huge and stereotyped shadow outside of Portland, out from which indie and high fashion must stretch to gain wider exposure. Taylor, now 63 and enjoying retirement (and 5 grandchildren), also shared some lament for how the sterotypes reflect more-than-a-kernel of truth in, well, at least some Portlanders. I broke down into laughter as she nearly yelled, “If I see one more pair of jeans or Dockers at the Portland Opera!”
As for FGI at LA Fashion Week, it was invigorating to see an almost dizzying diversity of styles represented by so many designers at one LA event. Aside from the designer’s look worn by each muse, ultimately it was more of a kick-off party and fundraiser than a fashion event per-se… In fact, it was a party on two floors that had its own after-party on another…
For more info: Fashion Group International
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