I wore Phillip Lim to my father's funeral. A grey frock that I bought in the fall of 2010. I remember buying it thinking, "This is a sensible dress." It's modest. It's modern. It's a sensible dress. It's the highest-fashion version of sensible I'll partake in. It's beautifully made (as 3.1 seems to do so well on a mass level) with a slight masculine air (which I love). And it hangs. It hangs on the body. The way good clothes hang. Little did I know that I was buying a dress for my father's funeral.
That's the way fashion works. It commemorates moments. But you don't choose it for the moment. The moment chooses you. I wore Phillip Lim to my father's funeral in February of this year. It's the only time I've worn the dress.
I think it apropos for my coming out party with the HuffPost (wha what!) to be a FNO-centric piece. Fashion has played a very big part in my life, whether I like to admit it or not. And I think what's so fascinating about Fashion's Night Out in particular is that it's all-consuming in New York, and in LA people are still like, "What's that?"
Which is what my friends asked me all day long as I was enlisting help to commemorate this once-a-year Vogue/CFDA collab that partners up with designers and stores and brands ALL over the world, to unite for Fashion for Good on one night. All the stores stay open late. Proceeds go to various charities. Lots of special appearances. It's a way to fashionably unite the world and kick off NYFW. It's huge in New York. The city vibrates! There was definitely a shut down at Phillip Lim this past Thursday night. No. Literally, the Fire Marshall shut down the party because the forward-thinking team at Phillip Lim had the hottest-new-wave-you-haven't-heard-but-you-will band Cults performing live. Oh yes, my friend. The hipsters were out in full affect. Suspenders, bow ties, and thick black-rimmed glasses pulled me across a floor with out my permission... hipsters in a can. Sardine hipsters. Mosh-o-hipster.
But I digress.
My evening started in another personal outlet. I guess I wanted my FNO to be fresh and personal. Be a night of support for the people in my life who move me with their art. So I started with Heidi Merrick's takeover of Post 26 in Brentwood Country Mart. When something keeps being said to me or coming into my zeitgeist over and over... I pay attention. 60s. French. Chic. Those three ideals are themes right now. And Heidi's collection encompasses all. A surf rat from Santa Barbara of the richest kind. Heidi is daughter of none other than Al Merrick. One of the greatest surfboard-shapers of all time. Al and my father were friends.
My father Yancy Spencer III is a surf legend, and an integral part of the history of surf. I'm from the Gulf Coast of Florida. Who knew that two daughters of two great surfers would come together one day over fashion? While my mom was bringing Vogue patterns to life on our dining room table, Heidi was hanging with the Tommy Currens of the world. When I was little, I'd drool from afar at my older brother's friend Kelly Slater. Opposite coasts. Similar stories. Heidi's collection was seamlessly nestled next to the YSL portion of the upper deck of Post 26. There is just something so hip and effortless about her designs. They are how you wish you dressed everyday. In your mind's eye, what you think you should be sashaying around the house or looking fabulous to get the mail, but the kicker is... you can actually sashay around the house and get the mail in it because it's so lovely to wear. Heidi's heart comes out in her clothes. She's vibrant, and child-like and girly, yet can hang with the dudes (she is a surfer tried and true) and fun and serious about her work and her art. And you see it. You see it all.
Downing the pink champagne (a Heidi staple) and grabbing delicious seasoned nuts for the road, I made my way to Phillip's joint on Robertson. I had a moment at the red light on Wilshire/San Vicente. A man was standing there with a sign saying: Sober and Hungry. I sat there thinking, do I give him a dollar? I looked down at my delicious nuts. Rolled down the window, and gingerly asked the man if he wanted some delicious nuts. Not knowing if he'd laugh in my face or worse yet, throw them on the ground and grizz-ily ground the delicious squirrely fare. He took them and thanked me kindly.
I rounded Santa Monica Blvd onto Robertson, and heard the thumping of a nearby club beckon me into a bustling parking lot. Hopped out of my car and put on... my sunglasses. I just wanted to wear my sunglasses. I wanted to watch Cults and watch people. And take video and pictures. And just soak it all in. Yes. I pulled a Lisa Love. And I Lisa Love'd it. I felt the freedom to take in all that was the party and the 3.1 clothes and the street fashion and, indeed, Cults. They are totally 60s nouveau riche. I love them. I've recently discovered them through the collaborator of the movie I'm writing/producing, and I write... to them. So I was stoked to have the pleasure of an in-person show. They were the perfect FNO LA draw. In a town full of "what's FNO" and why do I care, get a band like CULTS (who were amazing! Madeline, the lead singer, Brian and the band, sounded just as good as the album) on the scene, and the youngsters start caring. Me, in my sunglasses, my friends Griffin and Matt walked up and saw me: "You're in mourning," said Griffin. "Ijustwannawearmysunglassesdon'tmakemetakeoffmysunglassesyouguys," said I. They didn't. Because. I was. I am. In mourning. Phillip Lim is a part of the most pivotal turning point, the most forever-changing, devastating moment of my life.
And here I am in his store, listening to the music that is inspiring the script about dealing with the death of my father and about the deepest form of relationships. True friendship.
Fashion's Night Out, for me, was a night out to understand why fashion matters. Why every day is a day to dress up. Why fashion has the capacity for more than just "lookatmelookatme" or the opposite and equal affect. Fashion tells a story. It commemorates moments. And I think next year, it's time for fewer people in LA to ask "What's Fashion's Night Out?" And just go out that night for fashion. See what moment chooses you.
Follow Abigail Spencer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/abigailspencer