The events comprising “L.A. Fashion Week” which are being held this weekend through next week may have some slapdash scheduling and production, but you wouldn’t know it from the Concept L.A event at the Ace gallery in Mid-Wilshire.
The second floor space hosted several local designers as well as an artist duo called The Date Farmers Friday night, drawing a sizable crowd, as well as shows and installations from designers both established and brand-new.
Designers Mike Vensel, Martin Martin, Valerj Pobega and Liason displayed a selection of their fall 2011 collections in small semi-secluded rooms that lined a hallway en route to a runway.
Vensel showed two vivid red dresses worn by models perched on a large rock. The dresses looked like luxe Snuggies situated in the middle of the desert. The color was intense and alluring, but the silhouettes were shapeless and robe like.
Husband and wife design duo and veterans of the L.A fashion scene Martin Martin were inspired to create their fall collection based on the idea of deconstruction. An all white, gray and black line, each piece was stark, modern and sculptural. A standout piece was a butter-soft tailored black leather jacket with an interesting pleated detail on the back.
Valerj Pobega’s line was vaudeville meets 1930s Berlin, with green wool army blanket-looking capes that had medallion brooches at the neck and were painted with star graphics. The pieces were styled on mannequins wearing gas masks and a few models who accompanied the designer at her station had Marilyn Manson-esque running eye makeup and bondage-inspired dresses festooned with an undulating ruffled collar.
Newcomer Alyson Leif, whose line of lingerie called Liason hits stores for the first time this fall, istaking a high-end approach to underpinnings. The former denim designer and current keyboard player for the band The Meek uses all silk and chiffon to create tap shorts, art deco inspired bras, robes and nightgowns.
On the runway, sustainable fabric clothing line Chemline showed a fall collection filled with art deco-inspired pieces and attractive jumpsuits, made mostly from hemp and organic cotton and wool. The girl here looked like she walked right out of a Tamara de Lempika painting, with a street-tough art deco aesthetic, complete with paneled skirts on dresses, strong, tailored blazers and flight suit-inspired jumpsuits styled with black leather gloves.
The show was scheduled to start at 7 pm and went up at 7:46 pm, which isn't terrible for an event put together in three weeks. Unlike the official L.A Fashion Weeks of years past, seating was a breeze, no one was clamoring for a Windex-blue drink at the bar and shows and presentations were well edited and got each designer’s point across in an efficient and organized manner.
And when there was some downtime or you just needed a break from fashion installations, paintings from an artist duo called The Date Farmers filled the other half of the gallery for people to peruse. Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez draw upon graffiti, gang culture and their Latino heritage to create paintings, installations and sculptures under the name the Date Farmers. The two grew up in the Coachella Valley on date farms and eventually came together to create art that Lerma says “is a commentary on violence in general.” Most pieces didn’t look like they were rooted in violence, except for a few that literally had knives or guns slapped onto the canvas.
It was refreshing to have a multidimensional fashion-based event take place for L.A Fashion Week, creating a creative atmosphere and perpetuating the eclectic approach to fashion that really thrives in this city.
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photos: (Top) Two looks from the Chemline fall 2011 runway show. (Right) Dresses from Mike Vensel fall 2011. (Left) Looks from Martin Martin fall 2011. (Right) Looks from Valerj Pobega fall 2011 collection all taken at Concept L.A. Fashion week at the Ace Gallery. Credits: Kirk Mckoy / Los Angeles Times. (Bottom left) Artwork by The Date Farmers. Credit: Melissa Magsaysay / Los Angeles Times
Founded by fashion designer Mike Vensel and downtown Los Angeles visionary Brady Westwater in 2010 CONCEPT Fashion Week was founded as a new alternative for designers wanting to showcase their latest collections under their own terms. The duo have been producing fashion shows in Los Angeles since 2004 and had worked together to launch many shows over the years with various different show producers at different forums. After working on many different formats for LA Fashion Week they came to a conclusion that in order to make LA Fashion Week a success the shows need to revolve around the talent of the designers and not the flash, dazzle and expensively produced shows that have come and gone in LA over the years. They hatched a plan to find a sponsored venue, involve amazing designers and package it in a way that is both efficient and appealing to press and buyers.
After two seasons the duo began to look beyond Los Angeles to found CONCEPT New York Fashion Week at the Audi Forum on Park Avenue. With success in both LA and NYC the pair met with LA Fashion Visionary fashion designer Henry Duarte to explore a new idea. The marriage of Art and Fashion. Henry Duarte has been involved in the LA Fashion, Art and music scene for over 20 years with many relationships and respect built in all three arenas. Duarte was approached by his good friend Doug Chrismas, owner of ACE Gallery, who had an interest to get more involved in the Fashion Industry. Duarte introduced CONCEPT to ACE and the rest is history, a month later they announced their newly formed partnership.
CONCEPT LA Fashion Week at ACE Gallery is a new idea blending the ideas of efficiency and creativity with a world class venue known by tastemakers worldwide. With the evolution of the fashion industry many designers are looking for a new way to showcase their collections. Having a beautiful raw space as a blank canvas in which designers can push their creative boundaries and expand the idea of what a fashion show can be, from a traditional runway show to video projections, to live performance art, there are no boundaries restricting the way a designer can communicate their vision. Kicking off LA Fashion Week March 10th – 13th CONCEPT LA Fashion Week will host 8 runway shows and 12 designer installations along with live musical performances and video projections curated by Paul Young Projects in an event that will redefine LA Fashion Week and set a new standard worldwide for art and fashion collaborations.