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The weather was perfect for the drive down to Escondido, CA; where the second annual Escondido Fashion Week was held at the California Center for the Arts.
I went to support my friend, Parris Harris, who was coordinating that evening’s Red Carpet Finale, featuring David Kahn Jeanswear and Lauren-Elaine Designs.
The evening started with words from Debra Rosen, CEO of Escondido’s Downtown Business Association; followed by Angelo Damante of Mercedes-Benz of Escondido and Channel 8’s Barbara Lee Edwards. Then, dancers from Georgia’s School of Dance took the stage with a jazz number (they also danced in between the fashion shows and after.)
The first fashion show was David Kahn Jeanswear. The models showcased the latest of his S/S ’09 line- crops, capris, shorts, skinny legged jeans, and skinny crops that were properly accessorized with tanks and tops sporting the David Kahn logo and scarves, hats and jewelry that was provided by Bacio Boutique. The second part of Kahn’s runway show consisted of the menswear line. And I must say…the men really knew how to show off a pair of classic jeans! Most of the male models strutted down the runway with the serious attitudes; also with David Kahn tees and hoodies. One model though, tore off his tank and thrust it into the giddy audience.
Kahn recently launched his menswear collection. He focuses on the European and American fits and straight and boot cuts. Like his womens line, he also uses Italian denim. For more on David Kahn Jeans, visit www.davidkahnjeanswear.com.
The closing show of the evening was Lauren-Elaine Designs. Her collection (and second full collection) was titled, “Siren Collection”, a dress line inspired by the mythical sirens from Ancient Greek Mythology and the ‘sirens’ of the 50’s (Grace Kelly). The models strolled the runway in ‘goddess’ gowns and dresses with 50’s full-skirted silhouettes.
I had a chance to catch up with the designer of LED, Lauren-Elaine Edleson, who started in the industry as a model, but turned designer when she was in college. She loves working with colorful prints in fine cotton blends, silks and silk chiffons. She has a passion for hand-dying fabrics and taffeta cocktail dresses. She hopes to manufacture more garments with “green” and organic fabrics in the near future. However, several of her sundresses are already made from organic cotton. Her label is still somewhat new, having been launched in March 2008, during LA Fashion Week. For more on LED, go to www.lauren-elainedesigns.com.
I would like to extend special thanks to Parris Harris, for informing me of this amazing event and my first fashion event outside the LA area. To Debra Rosen, Kory DeMeulenaere (GM of Courtyard by Marriott- Rancho Bernardo), Danielle Aeling, events manager at DBA. She and a fantastic team of people planned this event for eleven months and despite the economy, still managed to get the designers and had an incredible amount of people in attendance. Lauren from Bacio Boutique (121 E. Grand Avenue in Escondido (760)743-4800), Georgia’s School of Dance, the hair and make-up teams and the woman behind the models, Maurinda Andre of MODA models. Ms. Andre herself started modeling in 1997 and has worked her way up. Afer a stint at Model and Talent Management, she called Debra Rosen and told her of a new business venture. Rosen then gave her one and a half months to get her business started and then told her about Fashion Week 2009. Andre chose to name her new business, MODA, because it was her professional model name and that she has her own personal style. She says she doesn’t follow the trends, she expresses through them. You can reach MODA at (619)618-5990.
* ” Project Ethos bridges the gap between Indie and Mainstream worlds and provides opportunities for previous unrecognized talent.” *
This year, I had the opportunity to attend the bi-annual event, Project Ethos, held at the Vanguard in Hollywood. The theme was “Culture Shock”. The charity partner for the event was ‘Raising Malawi, who’s goal is to end the extreme poverty that Malawi’s two million orphans and other children have to suffer from. The red carpet event boasted eight designers, eleven artists, three bands, two DJs and fifty-six models.
After a colorful dance by Groovaholix, who were keeping to the “Culture Shock” theme, wore tanks that represented different cultures around the world…the seven-designer fashion show started.
AGAPE- A feminine contemporary line, designed by Danyela Jelovac had draped dresses and seperates that had a European flair but a hint of American modernity. The muted colors were perfectly styled with purple tights that went over the heel, which reminded me of a somewhat “mod” style. You can email Danyela at email@example.com.
MIDNIGHTMARE- The dynamic duo Judy, Donna and Phong Hong are the creative geniuses behind this contemporary line that was inpspired by the mysterious shadows that are formed at night. All the designs on their tees are original hand-drawn illustrations. I LOVED the vest and skirt seperates that were made from feathers! Their designs will be available in their online store and some boutiques. Their site is www.midnightmare.com.
MIMEKI- This is a handbag line created by Rochelle Thwaites. Mimeki means, “I made it,” in Jamaican. Her line has a following that features celebrities and other fashionistas alike. At one point during her show, two models walked out, instead of wearing clothing, their bodies were beautifully painted. It created a “WOW-factor” with the audience. Her website www.mimeki.com is currently under construction.
COWGIRL HEAVEN- Fun and flirty party dresses that are designed by Houstina Summers, were inspired by ribbons and bows, also Barbie meets 50’s Pin-up. Check her out at www.cowgirlheaven.foliosnap.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAVSH- Alfred Lape is the creative visionary for this line. He has had no formal education in the fashion industry and is responsible for the patternmaking, sewing, the rest of the design process, as well as the business aspect. He showed very sophisticated shirts, jackets and pants during the show. Every piece of Lape’s collection is sewn with love and care. For more information, go to www.lavshlv.com.
LUXCHER- This contemporary line designed by Naoko Yoshihara takes its name from two French words, “lux”- “luxury” and “cher”- “beloved”. All her clothes that were on the runway that evening were very feminine and sophisticated and could easily take a woman from day to evening. Her email is email@example.com.
THE OTHER DUCK- Created by Cheryl Koo, and was derived from the “Ugly Duckling” story. Her line is for those who are the non-conformists, the people are aren’t afraid to stand-out…the outcasts…if you will. Every piece she makes has a message behind it, which is also her personal life message. The models had make-up that represented black masks around their eyes…the dark make-up with the dark clothing was very goth-like. There was a slight twist behind the coats…the lining had color…bright and fun. One of the models also came out in a strapless sheer gown and doing ballet. I do love it when models add a little something extra other than just ‘walking’. Cheryl’s hip site can be found at www.theotherduck.com.
DEVIOUS-DAMZELS- Designer Maria Peralta was inspired by the silhouettes of the 80’s- shoulder pads, dolman sleeves and glitz; along with the art of East LA culture. Her tees had graphics that were edgy and explosive. Her website www.deviousdamzels.com is under construction at the present, but in the meantime, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPONSORS: Sexy Hair, Jody Domingue, LookBookLA, Sean Healy Presents, BDPR, Covenant House California, 99% Entertainment, Raising Malawi, M2 Event Design, My Studio, Beta Records, Not Rated Productions, Jin and Quinn Productions, Felulu Cosmetics, Agent Training Network, Groovaholix, Paul Mitchell: The School, Illuminate Collective.
Special Thanks: Brianne Bear; Jason Peskin;Erica Carbajal; Monica Ruiseco;my fellow Ethos girls: Kristen, Claudia and Janice and the rest of TEAM ETHOS; Jody Domingue Photography, Ryan Jones, Parris Harris, Felix Salzman (LookBookLA)… For more information on Project Ethos, go to www.projectethos.com.
What mixes fashion, models and hip choreography? Why “Runway Rhythm Showcase” held at the Celebrity Centre on the last day of February. The brain-child of Samuel Westley, featured six incredible designers as well as up-and-coming models, both male and female, ranging from kids to juniors to adults. I was incredibly lucky to be sitting in the front row, getting wowed by the rhythmic choreography (another endeavor by Wesley), performed by the models.
In 1991, Mr. Wesley founded “Runway Rhythm”, though, at the time, it was another name. The company is based on Christian ethics and they strive to bring about emerging designers, models and entertainers. For more information on this inspiring man and the company, go to www.runwayrhythm.com.
May I present the ‘designers of the hour’…
QUEEN AMINAH- The African- Inspired clothing is sold at the African Marketplace in Crenshaw Mall. The Queen Aminah label features colorful tunics/tops, pants, dresses for men, women and children.
RAW- The designer for this line pays high attention to detail in her clothing. The line is eco-friendly, meaning that she uses natural fabrics and recycles old clothing to make beautiful new creations. RAW was featured in the Runway Rhythm Adult Show. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
ARIANA’S BOUTIQUE- Located in Valley Village, this boutique features one-of-a-kind special events, wedding, prom, casual and club wear and accessories from international, as well as local designers. These pieces are available in juniors and womens sizes. ARIANA’S is located at 12464 Magnolia Blvd. Valley Village, CA 91607. Their phone number is 818-602-6334.
NIC- The designer, Nic, emphasizes design, texture and color into her collections of day and evening wear. She is currently getting her 2009 loungewear, made from silk charmeuse, ready for viewing at future events.
COWGIRL HEAVEN- Designer Houstina Summers awed the crowd with her colorful party dresses. The models strutted down the runway, while also performing a dance routine that truly fit the CowGirl Heaven ‘look’. Houstina’s inspiration for her new pieces included in the collection that I had previously seen in another show; was “glitter”, she loves sparkle and it indeed, showed in her collection. She also designs for the plus-size women as well, as were shown in the runway show.
HEIR- This line, founded in 2003, features fun designs for men, women and children. Heir is showcased in 90 stores nationwide as well as online. The company is also following the “it” trend of the season by being ‘Green’ in their baby line.
7 STAR- Designer Michilen continued to impress the audience with flowy dresses, perfect for the Summer season. She also provided the men with African-Inspired tunics and pants and they did a fantastic job showing off her designs and even walked her down the runway at the end of the show.
Special Thanks to Jeena Quansah for being a wonderful MC for the show and for providing additional information about the designers, the twins from www.twinofakind.com, who provide self-esteem classes to children and adults; the models, Sam Wesley and his wife, hair/make-up provided by Miss Tanya’s and Marinello School of Beauty.
It’s the beginning of the new year, which didn’t stop entrepreneur JS (John Smith) from putting on the first show of the year- “Modeled Fashions, Designing Women 2009,” held at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood. Smith founded his company, Modeled Fashions Entertainment Group in September 2008 as a result in wanting to change the attitude and concept of his first company, First Take Entertainment. He chose Modeled Fashion as the new name because he wanted to be “modeled” and emulated by other people in the industry. He wanted “Modeled Fashions, Designing Women 2009” to be the first show in 2009…thus setting the bar in fashion in 2009. He is about enhancing creativity, not only his own, but fellow artists as well. He will go out and find entertainers, models, designers and comedians that haven’t had their chance in the industry and give them the opportunity to live their dreams. He also gives 110% effort helping fellow artists. And “Modeled Fashions, Designing Women 2009” did just that.
It was held on Saturday, January 17th at the Celebrity Centre’s Garden Pavilion in Hollywood. Being somewhat early I was able to catch up with the designers of the show before taking my seat at the front of the runway.
Houstina Summers of Cowgirl Heaven was the first designer I ran into. She has been designing for one year and is self-taught. She specializes in couture and party dresses. She makes all the patterns and sews everything herself and loves experimenting with different styles and looks. Her inspiration is God (is love.) She credits the colors in the sky and sun that inspire her as well. Also that she loves dresses and she knows that every woman loves a great dress. Her advice to budding designers and business owners, “If you can see it, you can do it…If you can envision it, if you have the heart and passion for it, you can do it.”
Another featured designer of the evening was Katie Manzella of K. Manzella. Katie has done a few shows with JS and they support each other. She has been designing since she was thirteen in the Punk Rock Era. She made her own clothes and refined her style. She does everything herself- from the sketching to the sewing. However, when she does manufacture, it will be here in LA under regulation. She is adamant on helping out the economy and making sure that people are treated well (health insurance, no child labor and livable wages.) Her inspiration for this collection came from the women of the 1900’s- 1940’s because they were glamorous and cared about how they looked. To them, going out and dressing up was a special occasion. When her company gets bigger, she wants to create a trend in LA of giving back more and being more aware of people. “It’s not just about the clothes that come out, it’s about the process of creating them.”
The next line are was also the first to show their goods down the runway. This team of three generations- Grandmother, Mother and Daughter created a line of leggings and vests named Tru Britt. The collection for the show was comprised of leggings ranging from mid-length, stirrup, long and gathered. They used liquid latex and faux leathers. The price points for the leggings range from $40-45. The tie- vests are very versatile and since they are made from soft netting, they take up hardly any room in the suitcase! The vests are $35- a great deal in this rough economy. Their website is coming soon!
As I kept interviewing the designers, I found that we had one thing in common…FIDM. Like the designer I’m about to introduce- Pam Mbanga. She has been designing for four years. So far, she has showcased in seven shows in Canada as well as Edmonton Fashion Week. Her inspirations for the the evening’s show is the sexy woman…She’s confident, she knows who she is and doesn’t have to show too much skin to be sexy. Pam’s favorite fabrics, and the most difficult to work with, are chiffons and organzas. She makes all the patterns and sews everything herself. She sells online and at the FIDM Scholarship Store, as well as selling in boutiques in Toronto and London. Check out her collection at www.mbangainc.com.
Another Canadian and fellow FIDM student is Erica Cee Steeves, who has been designing for five years. She has done two other shows in Canada for her school. She found her inspiration at the Balloon Festival in Canada. She loved the hot-air balloons and their colors. She does evening wear, cocktail and party dresses. Her favorite saying is “Life’s all about working, so why not like what you’re wearing.”
The last fantastic designer on my roster is Kimberly Alfaro of Kimberly Alfaro Collections. The “Collections” mean that the pieces are the best of the best of everything she has done. Her pieces have a lot of silk and peacock influences. She also incorporates Swarovski Crystals and embroidery into her designs. She is also a fan of trains on dresses. Her silhouettes are sleek, classical and accent the hour-glass figure. She uses Marc Jacobs and Roberto Cavalli as influences. One of the dresses in the collection, a denim dress with a long train has an Oscar de la Renta influence. She grew up with a family of sewers and has pretty much been designing all her life. She has been designing professionally for seven to eight years. As far as hearing about JS, she heard from the head of the texile department at FIDM and immediately jumped at the great opportunity. Her designs can be viewed at www.kimberlyalfaro.com.
I want to give special thanks to comedian, D Shorte, who did a very funny routine during intermission and Miss Guatemala, Krys De La Mora. They were great MCs throughout the event. Also, Terra Incognita, who performed during the runway shows. The wonderful models that rocked the runway. The creative eyewear, Tingaling. The sponsors of the show: Vice, Glass House PR, Jacob’s Shoes for the Stars. He handmakes 70% of the shoes and has a boutique on Melrose. Lastly, Glammin School of Make-up in Orange County.
The weather warmed up enough to head on over to the Li Cari clothing launch party at Taylrz Joynt in Sherman Oaks. Despite it being a Friday, the traffic was decent and I was able to find parking across the street from the venue. When I arrived, there was the red carpet and the paparazzi taking pictures of Li Cari’s designer, Jazmine Whitley, Hanna Beth, and a couple stars from “Paris Hilton’s New BFF”, Sinsu and Onch.
After check-in and taking pictures on the red carpet, I proceeded into the boutique. There were models wearing items from the line posing in the window, their poses changing every so often. There was a good crowd turn-out, ranging from actors to models, designers and hipsters. I stood back for a few minutes, taking in the scene. Taylrz Joynt is a small, narrow boutique; though there was artwork on the walls, as well as the fun, creative displays for the clothing and jewelry. Tucked in the back of the store were the quaint dressing rooms and a large floor-to-ceiling mirror. I walked to the back to meet up with the 20 year old phenomenon behind the line- Jazmin Whitley.
Whitley, dressed in a vintage floral print dress and cardigan was glad to sit down with me for a few minutes to discuss her rise to success in fashion. She started designing in high school and gained momentum when her teacher suggested doing a fashion show. Since then, she has designed for friends and clients. Her collection started out small and has escalated into the line we know today. Her advice to budding designers and entrepenuers, “Never give up and always have faith.”
I later caught up with the Taylrz Joynt owner herself…Ms.Taylr. (Pronounced Taylor, but minus the ‘O’.) Despite the busy atmosphere, she kindly accepted my request for a short interview and ushered me back near one of the dressing rooms. Taylr had always wanted to own her own boutique. After moving down to LA from San Francisco in 2001, she worked as a stylist and wardrober. In 2007, her lifelong dream came true and she opened her first boutique in North Hollywood before recently moving to her current location on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. She hopes to open a chain of stores across the nation, her first stop being Houston, TX. Being a fan of wanting to start a business myself, I asked her if it was easy to start a business. She told me that it was easier to start, but keeping it up is more of a challenge. I really enjoyed speaking with such an inspirational woman. A favorite quote that she left me with is, “Don’t put your dreams in the hands of others.”
Taylrz Joynt is located at 13549 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. The phone number is (818)907-7818. You can view the Li Cari line at www.shoplicari.com. Special Thanks to Susan Costa of World Coast Management PR.
I arrived at the Ivar in Hollywood a few minutes til 9pm, when the doors were scheduled to open. They were still setting up, but I was immediately introduced to Dionna Harris, CEO of The Styling Agency. She was bubbly and very hospitable. She ushered me in and I stood back, watching the models rehearse the last-minute walk through and other goings-on.
The fashion show started around 10:30pm, with an introduction by Dionna and a performance by Shawn Chrystopher, pumping up the already anxious club-goers. Since this was an American theme show and the election is a few days away, the first ‘scene’ of the fashion show was “The American Dream”, which Harris describes as America before the Bush Administration. It was only appropriate for the first model to be wearing a toga style dress of red and white stripes and blue stars. The following models wore basic tees, denim and jackets, while sticking to the red, white and blue color palette. The second ‘scene’ was “War in Iraq”. This scene was comprised of a somewhat controversal yet captivating show of models wearing scarves over their faces and wearing coats; some welding toy guns. Harris’s inspiration was the War in Iraq and of course, the Iraqis themselves. The third and final ‘scene’ of the show is “Peace and the Resurrection”. Models in haute couture gowns walked down the runway and dropping their ‘vote’ in the ballot box at the end of the runway. Harris describes her inspiration for this finale, that it is the peace and resurrection of something new….For “hope of beauty…and change for the better…prosperity…” Actress Kayley Gable wowed the audience in one of Max Nugus’s Haute Couture gowns.
The Styling Agency is a FASHION MOVEMENT…A MOVING BODY THAT IS STILL GROWING AND PROSPERING…For more information, go to www.thestylingagency.com. “Check us out, or be left behind!”