On a fabric-covered runway at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary last night, two dozen gowns selected as the best of 20th Century glamour proved that old chestnut that good design and good quality never go out of style.
Here were 24 looks, from a 1930s labeless royal blue paillette mermaid dress to a 1980s forest green Thierry Mugler bursting with feathers, that looked fresh. Granted in the hands of Decades founder Cameron Silver, who furnished the presentation as a fundraiser for the beleaguered contemporary art museum, the clothes didn’t stand a chance of looking fusty or even retro. Cameron has made a career of not only focusing on 20th century fashion, but, most pointedly, regarding it in the here and now.
It’s why both sides of the runway were lined with some of his better-known fashion plates: Marisa Tomei (in a hot pink Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior confection), Alison Miller (in Ungaro), event co-host Rachel Griffiths (in Sarmi), Kelly Lynch (in a flirty black Vicky Tiel), Rose McGowan (in a siren red Azzaro sheath), Dana Delaney (in turquoise Galanos), Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon and Lisa Rinna (both two birds of a feather, also in Blass), among others. For his part, Cameron was clad in a custom-made Costume National suit.
Context is certainly driven by the accessories, and besides plucking a chunky gilded bangle or sparkling crystal waist chain from the Decades archives, Cameron and crew had plenty of gobstoppers and other trinkets from H. Stern. From pal Brian Atwood, who was in town earlier this week, he pulled heels with dangerous arches in opalescent leathers, red patents and tangerine satins.
The jaw-dropping fringed and fuchsia 1970s YSL to the 1960s ruby sequin Norman Norell cocktail number (which inspired applause from the packed house) aside, what stood out most from the evening, however, was that as modern as this all looked, it was a vintage show during a week when the city is supposed to be celebrating its homegrown talent. And who isn’t at the news that Rodarte is going head to head with the likes of Marc Jacobs and Narciso Rodriguez for Designer of the Year from the Council of Fashion Designers of America?
But the Geffen showcase was really spot on, from the models and makeup to the staging to even, dare I admit, the Bjork-meets-opera opener featuring two singers vacuum-packed in patent rubber gowns accompanied by a similarly clad cellist. Fashion week in Los Angeles has nearly killed itself in recent seasons. What began as a grassroots explosion of bonafide talent and experimentation around 2000 had lost its soul and its head by the close of the decade.
But last night’s event revealed that, just maybe, with the right players involved, context really is everything.
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|Naomi Teal and Michael Scott Anderson|
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