LA Fashion Awards 2005

Its official: Los Angeles sets off to be proud of their fashion contributions by the premiere of the LA Fashion Awards. Uphill battle or natural fit?

Set at the historical Orpheum Theatre in the heart of Los Angeles's fashion district, the LA Fashion Awards recognized significant contributions Los Angeles based Designers make in Fashion. "It's in a name." Will the fashion world ever take the "LA" Fashion Awards seriously? Do you think New York would get behind the "NYC" Fashion Awards? I'm not convinced. It's a notch down for Los Angeles based Designers before it's even begun.

Hosted by never-too-far-from-the-spotlight, Melissa Rivers, the LA Fashion Awards tone was part excitement, part awards wannabe, and part fresh startup. Melissa seemed to actually know something about fashion here in Los Angeles which was a pleasant surprise.  Of course, we all know her from the omni-pairing with Mom, Joan Rivers and their 90's inspired red carpet fashion award: the E! Entertainment, Golden Hanger (can you call that an award??). Although stiff and rehearsed, Melissa did seem to convey a genuine interest in the Los Angeles' fashion industry. Pleasantly, she looked better in person than on television. Fortunately, she did convey a respect for this premiere event.

Bob Mackie

With a lame attempt at exploiting famed costume designer Bob Mackie (with an odd reference to Cher), a handful of Awards were given out, culminating with the "MAFI Award". The "Moss Adams Fashion Innovator (MAFI) Award" is given annually for Innovation of California fashion 'through unique and compelling design, production and presentation." 1 The "MAFI Award" has been given out for three consecutive years. The first year, Daniella Clarke of Frankie B was given this award and last year Corey Lynn Calter. This year it went to the effervescent Nony Tocherman of Petro Zillia.

Nony Tochterman of Petro Zillia

Another words, it took an accounting firm to give fashion industry insiders an idea that maybe Los Angeles fashion could be something to celebrate instead of this historical cowering to the U.S. fashion industry's Mecca, New York? That's like saying Hollywood's coveted Best Picture award was created by the accounting team at PricewaterhouseCoopers.  As a Red Sox fan, my fellow Bostonians have spent their entire lives pre-2004 World Championships trying to get out of New York's enraging shadow. It's a sweet thing when the sun finally does shine. Will Angelino fashionistas find similar respite?

Zillia Spring 2006-Alice in Wonderland inspired

Petro Zillia Spring 2006-Alice in Wonderland inspired

This premiere awards show is meant to put Los Angeles on the map of high fashion. MAFI Award nominees recognized were: the exceptional Los Angeles based Haute Couture Designer, Louis Verdad; creative and innovative Petro Zillia (Nony Tochterman); and preppy surfer Trovata (John Whiteledge, Sam Shipley, Jeff Halmos and Josia Lamberto-Egan). All three designers tell a story about dear, sweet Los Angeles fashionistas: they're chic, sophisticated, colorful & fun, and love their casual, yet always trendy beach attire for day or evening. No where else in the world can you find all of such qualities so easily assimilated into daily life.

Louis Verdad Spring 2006

Louis Verdad Spring 2006

Dov Charney of American Apparel

Other awards: NASDAQ presented the "California Apparel IPO of the Year Award" to Volcom, Inc. As this was the first Award of the evening, it appears that Wall Street really is listening. The "Marketing Excellence Award" was won by dark horse American Apparel; the "Fashion Retailer Award" was won by the everlasting LA institution known as Fred Segal Melrose; the "Fashion Achievement Award" was given to Trina Turk for her innovative ways of staying in business for ten long LA retail years; the "Fashion Communication Award" was given to Rose Apodaca from Women's Wear Daily (who knew anyone noticed fashion's press satellite offices?). Actually, Rose exuded enthusiasm and knowledge about Los Angeles fashion. And finally reporting: the "Inspiration Award" given to perky and blissfully positive Rosemary Brantley, Designer and Chair of Fashion Design, Otis College of Art + Design. Rock on.

Trina Turk

Rose Apodaca, Women's Wear Daily

Rosemary Brantley, School of Fashion-Otis College of Art+Design

What these Fashion Awards say very clearly is that Los Angeles not only has incredible design talent, but that Los Angeles can and does make a significant contribution to the world of Fashion. Not only can designers study, train and create their collections here in Los Angeles, they can most importantly, execute them. Los Angeles is the nuclei of the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry which supports apparel and lifestyle designers. Los Angeles is a unique place that is building a culture which in turn will build its brand: Los Angeles.

Trovata (l-r):Jeff Halmos, Sam Shipley, John Whitledge, Josiah Lamberto-Egan

Los Angeles based Designers have an excitement and presence in the industry now more than any other time since the 1960's when Southern California hippie and surf fashion reverberated throughout the country. In this vain, I've recently become friendly with a legend in Los Angeles fashion design, Irene Kasmer.

Irene patented the "hip-hugger" in the late 1950's. Irene becomes animated when she tells me of the uphill battle she faced selling the "hip-hugger" in the late 50's. The idea of having an exposed midriff was considered crude and gauche. To satisfy women's standards, Irene created the first body suit to wear with her hip-huggers. Irene's forward-thinking designs have influenced designers and fashionistas worldwide for nearly five decades.

Louis Verdad Spring 2006

It seems to me that if Los Angeles is really going to celebrate fashion in the most culturally diverse city in the U.S., that it start by celebrating past milestones in fashion. More than creating a legendary award during the Los Angeles Fashion Awards (do they say "AA Awards" or "Academy Awards"?), a Fashion Hall of Fame can and will celebrate design and its process from education, training and design to manufacturing, marketing and distribution. It's no secret how important Hollywood has been and continues to be towards the worldwide success of the fashion industry. There's no other appropriate place in the U.S. for such a glorious fashionista celebration as the Fashion Hall of Fame housed in Los Angeles.  Certainly the pillars of Los Angeles design like the legendary Edith Head as well as designers such as Bob Mackie and Irene Kasmer can be remembered as an important part of the foundation upon which all designers working today stand.

New York is a design force to be reckoned with but Los Angeles, baby, is ready to throw its haute couture hat on the runway.

Petro Zillia Spring 2006-Alice in Wonderland inspired

Petro Zillia Spring 2006-Alice in Wonderland inspired

Grace Cerrone

¹LA Fashion Awards 2005 program.

Photos by Jorge Julian  


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