L.A.’s Fashion Week ran into some problems: sluggish attendance in the mornings, shows running behind schedule and a Tuesday night rainstorm that caused power problems at the Smashbox Studios venue in Culver City.
Then there was the reaction to some of the fashions that were on display last week.
“It would be nice to see a little more ‘design’ and a little less ‘clothing,'” said fashion and wardrobe stylist Georgia Benjou, who said the L.A. show is still viewed as more of a fun scene than a place for serious couture.
“It’s definitely an event and people want to come for the nighttime shows, so the dynamic is different,” said Benjou. “People are not necessarily coming out to see specific designers. People are coming out because it’s a party.”
Organized by Smashbox and event producer 7th on Sixth Inc., Fashion Week has been trying to gain traction in a fashion world studded with similar goings-on throughout the year. Several designers at this year’s event moved beyond what’s considered the California Look a catchall term to describe a casual yet trendy approach to clothes and into more formal attire. But as at all fashion shows, last week’s event had the usual share of naysayers.
While several shows on Thursday night and Friday were expected to draw good crowds, Fashion Week started with poor attendance.
Saja was able to fill about 250 of the 296 seats at an 11 a.m. show, said owner and designer Yoo Lee. Arthur Mendonca, owner and creative director of an eponymous line showing in L.A. for the first time, said that while his 5 p.m. show on Oct. 25 wasn’t packed, the quality of attendees is more important.
“It’s not always about having a packed house with fashionistas,” he said. “It’s about the important people being in the front row. I don’t mean starlets, I mean people in the industry, writers, editors and buyers.”
Smashbox co-founder Davis Factor admitted that some of the early shows drew only about a quarter of their capacity, but said, “Some designers chose venues that were too big for their collection.” Attendance was expected to build throughout the week and there were 25 to 30 percent more media present than last year, Factor said. “In the beginning of the week, you get some people you know aren’t going to command a large crowd. It lets you work the kinks out.”
After attending the Single, Kate O’Connor and Kevan Hall shows, Tamar Kevonian, publisher of lifestyle magazine Mosaix, was less than enthusiastic about what she had seen. “There are some bright moments, but generally it strikes me as uninspiring,” she said. “There’s nothing pushing the boundaries or being interesting.”
Esther Nash, special features editor for the Miami Sun Post and a fashion designer, was more enthusiastic, noting that the Iron show, in which models with tangled up-dos paraded barefoot down the runway, featured brightly colored fabric based on the designer’s paintings.
The show she had been most anticipating was Custo Barcelona, which included many tailored pieces in white and metallic pale pinks, blues and greens. “The construction of the garments was just beautiful,” said Nash. “They were made really well.”
But she also noted the differences between the atmosphere in L.A. and other cities.
“I don’t want to say anything bad,” said Nash. “It’s very different, more relaxed here. I think a few too many crashers have been able to come in. And that’s all I’m going to say.”