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Fashion in Los Angeles 2011 - Part Four - Trendsetters
The Last of a Four Part Series on L.A. Fashion
August 10, 2011
This final article will cover the "up-and-comers" in Los Angeles particularly those who are catching the most fashion attention nationwide and worldwide. Yes, we do have a designer, with a very unlikely name, who came to world attention for her designs at the royal wedding.
Well known designers include Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, Anna Sui, Todd Oldham, and Bill Blass. These are all names any American woman with any fashion sense whatever is familiar with.
Donna Karan is one of only two designers in this list that was actually born in New York, which explains the DKNY abbreviation for her business. Ms. Karan came to national attention when she introduced her "essentials" line of seven items that could be mixed and matched.
Marc Jacobs has his own line out of New York, but he also works for Louis Vuitton as a design director. Jacobs is the second New Yorker in this list.
Vera Wang is most closely associated with the wedding dress and though she works in New York she is very well known on the West Coast; stars routinely go to her for wedding attire. She was a figure skater in her youth.
Oscar de la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic and is currently known world-wide as a premier fashion designer. He is, however, a U.S. citizen. He originally worked for Christian Dior and later Elizabeth Arden as a designer. Working for Dior got him the recognition he needed to start his own line.
Calvin Klein started out as a coat manufacturer, but in the years since has expanded into jeans and, most notably, underwear. Klein is known in the industry as the "master of minimalism."
Kate Spade was born in the American heartland and came to the forefront of attention with her line of handbags. Since she has had a hand in designing raincoats, makeup, eye-wear, and even home furnishings. Though she was born in Kansas City, Missouri she currently operates out of New York.
Ralph Lauren is said to be inspired by the simple lines of the classic cars he collects. Perhaps best known for his Polo line, Lauren is an American fashion designer based in New York.
Anna Sui is primarily known as a Japanese clothing designer, but in fact she was born in Michigan. Known for primarily for her clothing line she also designs shoes and fragrances.
Todd Oldham is a Texan. He is perhaps best known as the moody clothing designs for the movie Batman Forever, but he also designs home furnishings, structures and spaces. He is the youngest of the designers mentioned here. While working for Ralph Lauren he borrowed $100 from his parents, dyed one hundred yards of white cotton jersey and sold the collection he created from that fabric to Neiman Marcus.
Bill Blass was born in Indiana. Though Mr. Blass is no longer with us his clothing designs continue to inspire. Blass is the oldest designer mentioned here. During World War II his talents were used to deceive the Germans about the location of American troops in Great Britain. His company, the 603rd Camouflage Battalion, did this with recordings, inflatable tanks and jeeps, and other decoys.
Mention any of these ten designers and the first thought is high quality current fashion from an American first-tier designer.
But we have our own here in L.A. and they are not as well known, though chances are quite good that you've seen their creations; you just didn't know the names.
Los Angeles Fashion Designers
The following are up-and-coming fashion designers in Los Angeles. The people presented here design and craft clothing and or accessories and their designs have been seen in videos, on the red-carpet, and at well publicized public events.
Valerj was born in Alghero Italy to a family of artists. As a child her mother taught her to sew and she would fashion her own designs for her collection of dolls.
As the story goes, Valerj, at sixteen, was a model in both Rome and Milan. While working for Valentino and Alexander McQueen she would study the clothing she was wearing; learning as much as she could about construction and fabric.
Rather than wear designer clothing to auditions, she would wear her own hand sewn designs. Before long she was asked where she got her clothes. The answer got her a number of orders and she eventually started KG363.
Valerj is a true designer of couture; everything she makes is hand sewn. Her collections are limited to ten to fifteen items; some painted as well as sewn. This means that any Pobega item you may purchase is guaranteed to be one of a kind.
She prefers silk as a fabric often dripping paint upon it to create a unique pattern.
One of her lines was inspired by the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, another by a line from a song by Massive Attack. She has also been inspired by world war two Berlin and the film The Night Porter.
She is one of the new breed of designers who uses high definition video rather than a glossy book to promote her designs. She currently lives in a west-side neighborhood of Los Angeles.
You can see her current line at Valerj Pobega dot com. Just follow the link at left.
Mildred Von Hildegard
Von Hildegard is another Los Angeles fashion designer of note. She has no formal training and actually got her start designing club attire for friends. The attire was dubbed "Febot Couture," by the British press.
She lived in London for a while and started a line of clothing there under the banner Mother of London. After a break-up with a long time boyfriend she moved to Los Angeles retaining the Mother of London banner just the same.
She currently lives in Chinatown, just east of downtown Los Angeles. She says she loves living here; having been befriended and warmly welcomed to L.A. She credits Lady Gaga for opening the door to her avant-garde fashion.
She is also a couture designer, with all of the current clothing hand sewn. Her designs have been featured in videos by Alice Cooper, The Black Eyed Peas, Kylie Minoque and Marilyn Manson. A couterfeit of one of her designs was featured on Willow Smith last year on the red-carpet.
"I thought my audience would be goth girls and trannies [cross-dressers]" - Satanica Batcakes
These days when we think of hats we automatically associate the concept with the British and high society; particularly if that high-society are guests of the royal family.
But many of the hats presented at the royal wedding of William and Catherine were designed right here in Los Angeles by Satanica Batcakes.
Perhaps what is more interesting than the hats is the millner herself; she is [or was], by profession, a burlesque fire-eater. When burlesque started to lose popularity a friend suggested she make hats. Fortunately Satanica had a puppet-making hobby early on so she is quite familiar with constructs with dissimilar materials. With this experience she is able to create objects without leaving any evidence of the mechanics that hold the parts together. In other words you will never see a staple, glue beads or any other indication of the mechanics that hold the hats together and this, as well as the style, make them highly sought after.
She also makes wrist cuffs.
If you want to see other designs (beside the two pictures at right) visit etsy.com and key in "satanica" in the etsy's search bar.
Los Angeles Fashion Facilitators
Fashion designers wouldn't have a chance were it not for the effort of people with an eye for style that actually have the store-fronts or clout to bring trends to the forefront.
Ilaria started fashion life working for her aunt as a buyer. From there she worked for Satine and Milk. One day, Danny Masterson (of That Seventies Show), a high-school chum, suggested that she open her own store.
Six months later Urinati and Masterson opened Confederacy on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Urbiati is not a designer, but many red carpet walkers will consult her for their opening night wardrobe and for good reason. Uribinati has had her fingers on the pulse of Los Angeles fashion for decades.
If you visit her store in Feliz/Silver Lake (really Los Angeles 90027) you'll be happy to know that valet parking is free. They have no choice at Confederacy you see. There is no parking without a valet in that part of town and they'd rather their customers not have to pay for parking.
No, she is no relation to Lindsay.
She currently works for WGSN.com as a fashion forecaster (of sorts); her focus is on trends that have not yet made it to our clothing. In her own way Lohan is a seer. She can look at graffiti, popular items at swap-meets, and yard-sales and predict how those trends will show up in our clothing.
From her blog, shop-eat-surf.com she predicts that the next "big thing" in fashion trends will be a fusion of "vintage" and "mythology." She predicts that future fashion will be a balance of the very old with the very new.
She predicts that there will be more shopping via smart-phone, where a friend messages a store location and a shot of the front window (or interior) to tell others about styles or clothing that catch their eye.
More boutiques will trend toward a club feel so that customers will have a sense of belonging to a particular look or style. Larger stores are exploring an in-house tailor to give the most loyal of their customers a sense of exclusivity.
On the flip side will be clothing stores that adopt the co-op (cooperative) model. Customers will become members and volunteer to work four hours a month at a particular store to earn a ten percent discount on future purchases.
Los Angeles style is like London, Rome, New York, or Paris style in that it is ever evolving. The only difference, really, is that we here on the west coast are infants in the grand scheme of things. Where the aforementioned cities have their own mature and well-established sense of style we Angelenos are still discovering our own.
But we are getting there. And some of the trends we pioneer do end up being seen in Tokyo or Paris.
The author was not compensated in any way, either monetarily, with discounts, or freebies by any of the companies mentioned.
Though the author does make a small profit for the word count of this article none of that comes directly from the manufacturers mentioned. The author also stands to make a small profit from advertising attached to this article.
The author has no control over either the advertising or the contents of those ads.