Concept Los Angeles, one of the more veteran L.A. Fashion Week players, staged a one-day slate of shows, presentations and installations at Quixote Studios in West Hollywood on Saturday, an event that underscored both the upside and downside of the city's fashion show circuit.
Let's start with the positive, shall we? This season's new venue, just south of Santa Monica Boulevard and a few blocks west of La Brea, seemed to be just the right size, installations and presentations swapping out of one small studio space, alternating with a second studio where the runway shows unspooled. The common area in between allowed attendees to mill about without too much jostling. (The biggest complaint? An apparent lack of organized parking -- doubly important on the streets of West Hollywood.)
Another bright spot? The chance that one could discover new brands -- or see familiar brands trying new ways of presenting their collections.
Mathiasen is one of those lines I'd put in that first category. Matthew Mathiasen, a 2009 graduate of Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising whose fashion world CV includes stints at Elmer Ave. and Betsey Johnson, showed the debut season of his women's sportswear and accessories collection in a presentation format. His inspiration? "A group of my personal girlfriends," he told us. "And the things that they wear -- the way they mix and match separates and the things that they like."
The result was a collection that varied from sporty street wear -- shorts, skirts and zip-front crop tops layered under hoodies -- to glittery sequined sleeveless mini-dresses and a curve-hugging floor-length gown.
In the old-brands-trying-new-tricks category was Mike Vensel (who also happens to be the organizer of Concept) who decided to showcase his fashion line and abstract expressionist artwork -- together -- by having models cross the room, pick up one of his paintings from a pile and place it on the floor on the other side of the room. This bit of performance art, Vensel says in his show notes, "explores evolution and chance by allowing the models to select art they find most interesting and arranging it in an evolving sculpture that focuses on the progression of time and changing tastes."
Gimmicky? Sure. But it was more interesting than simply staring at a staid tableaux of models and afforded the audience ample opportunity to see the clothes close up -- a collection that included a chiffon fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and some hand-painted, one-of-a-kind dresses.
We won't dwell on the downside beyond reiterating what we've said before: No fashion show needs to last 39 minutes -- as Nuvula's did on Saturday. The label beat its own L.A. Fashion Week record, set in March 2012, by a full four minutes). Inspired by circles and semicircles, the colorful collection was full of references to the '50s and '60s -- and Asian-inspired touches like kimono sleeves and mandarin collars -- but the collection would easily have been twice as memorable with a show half the length.