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Los Angeles Fashion Week Steps Up for Fall 2011

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Pictured: Mannequins at Hope in the City Charity event (photo: M. Hall)

Last week was Los Angeles Fashion Week. No, it's not the same as New York Fashion Week in terms of organization and variety of shows, but Los Angeles put on some great shows last week. As I've said before, Los Angeles has a burgeoning fashion scene with some great designers, the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) and the thriving California Mart downtown with sample showrooms to rival NY's Garment District. Last week, individual designers put on shows at private venues (Lauren Elaine, Sue Wong) and collective groups of young designers joined together to put put on shows (Concept at the Art Deco Ace Gallery featuring Jen Awad, Thai Nguyen, Project Runway's Mila Hermanovski and Directives). Hope in the City combined fashion with charitable giving with an event to highlight local designers and benefit homeless women. Briefly, here's a round-up of a few LA Fashion Week highlights.

Jen Awad's Show (photo: M. Hall)
Jen Awad put on a very interesting and very 60's looking show (at least to me) at Concept last weekend. There were plenty of min-skirts, bows, lace up tops and models sporting hair and make-up similar to 60's icon Brigitte Bardot . The show was a real departure from the romantic looks and full skirts from Jen's last collection. Jen Awad's Fall 2011 collection offered casual looks, but also a few gowns worthy of the Hollywood Red Carpet. Following Jen Awad was designer Thai Nguyen debuting a romantic collection of full length gowns and cocktails dresses. I really liked the beautiful flowing gowns he presented.

Also featured at Concept were Project Runway's Mila Hermanovski collection of recycled Cashmere sweaters and tunics with geometric shapes. The small collection reminded me of Nicole Miller's work. Each of Mila's creations is unique due to the reused materials she works with. No piece will look like any other. I found her collection beautiful as well as sustainable. I follow Mila (Brave New Frock) on Twitter, and was Tweeting with her during the Oscars. She has been working with Costume Designer Colleen Atwood and helped design Helena Bonham Carter's recent Oscar gown. It's great to see her talent in design continuing post Project Runway.

Hope in the City (photo: M. Hall)
Following Concept, Hope in the City put on a runway show and fashion bazar at the Skirball Center that offered a little bit of everything. There were local designers, vintage looks, accessories and even costumes. The show did a good job highlighting local artists and designers and benefited a very worthy cause, the Downtown Women's Center. Highlights of the show included a Signature Experimental Designer Showcase showing garments inspired by physical art pieces of L.A. artists plus collections by Chelsea Rebelle and Dual Society. LA designer and blogger Heather Petrey took to the runway with flair and style in a deep purple cocktail dress. Overall the show had a little bit of everything, and was very entertaining. Technology played a part in the event as attendees could also use their smart phones at vendor tables to get extra information on the designers and exhibits.
Designer Sue Wong with her models.

Without a doubt the most established and commercially successful designer showing at LA Fashion Week is Sue Wong. She always does her own private event. This year she hosted her fashion show and brunch at her beautiful Los Feliz home, The Cedars. Her Fall 2011 collection was an ode to "My Fair Lady" showing plenty of Edwardian styles along with Ms. Wong's trademark embellishments and beading. The collection featured Cecil Beaton worthy ornate gowns and cocktail dresses in rich satin, flowing chiffons and fine laces. There were embellished dresses featuring Edwardian inspired beadwork, intricate embroidery and delicate appliques with skirts of organza and ostrich feather. Beautiful, romantic, and elegant, the collection "can transform any woman into a goddess, enchantress and duchess" said Wong. Sounds good to me. Sue Wong is sold at retailers like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, but savvy shoppers can find her fashions every now and then on sample sale sites.

Designer Lauren Elaine put on a romantic and fanciful Fall 2011 presentation at Castle Antiques Hollywood. Her collection is a mix of feminine and vintage inspired cocktail dresses. You can see it for yourself by checking out her campaign video for her collection. Los-Angeles based designer Ina Soltani showed her Fall/Winter 2011 collection at the former Vibiana cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. Ms. Soltanti's beautiful collection consisted of bold and sparkling colors, flirty mini dresses, and statement gowns. Her stunning styles have made her a red carpet favorite among actresses and models. She showed stunning metallic gowns and dresses, as well as traditional romantic styles.

Pictured: Scenes from Ina Soltani's Fall 2010 Collection (photos courtesy of Ina Soltani)

Other highlights of LA Fashion week were shows by environmentally conscious Boho-chic label Gypsy05 and casually comfortable Alternative Apparel.

Overall, LA Fashion Week was much improved and I look forward to seeing Los Angeles's fashion talent continue to thrive. There's much to be said for our own local designers and their contribution to California's economy. Thanks to all of them for their hard work last week

All photos in this article by Mary Hall, except Sue Wong and her models, courtesy of Sue Wong and Ina Solanti's show courtsey of Ina Solanti'.