Los Angeles Fashion Week, presented by N4XT Experiences, ran from October 18 to 22, 2023. showcasing, more than anything else, up-and-coming talents. When one typically thinks of a Hollywood-based fashion extravaganza, brands like Revolve and Alo come to mind; so do the Kardashians. But instead, we saw futuristic fashion, sportswear-inspired looks and a dash of the macabre. Some of highlights included silk pieces, quiet luxury beige and sci-fi couture.
It may be hard for young designers to make it in the fashion industry, but it’s even harder for women. In a sea of male fashion designers, LAFW showcased a total of 12 runway shows and presentations. Three and a half of them were female designers—Sami Miro; Imitation of Christ designer Tara Subkoff; Demo, co-designer of the Demobaza brand; and Claude Kameni (sadly, a show by Tiffany Brown was canceled last minute).
In this space, Kameni was a star. Think of statement silk pieces, bold patterns that aren’t too loud or abrasive and a quiet confidence that only a female designer brings to our closets. A woman truly knows what a woman wants to wear. Sophistication and style were welcomed to the runway, along with modern takes on historic cuts.
Every Los Angeles Fashion Week show needs a splash of New York City for it to really vibe. Gypsy Sport, a brand first founded in Harlem by designer Rio Uribe, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. While Uribe is now based in Los Angeles, he still has the spirit of New York in his collections, even this one. Bring all the “L.A.” silver bling and hats to the runway and I still see New York, sorry. It’s the oversized jackets, bandana paisley patterned skirts, the jersey numbers emblazoned on nighty-style pink dresses.
It was refreshing to see a Europe-founded brand at LAFW as well. Demobaza was founded in 2007 by a Bulgarian duo named Demo and Tono. No brand does what feels like desert couture quite like they do. It’s otherworldly, almost space-age.
Science-fiction fashion is seeping into the mainstream, and with space travel evolving at an exponential rate, it makes sense that interplanetary chic is on the rise. Demobaza brings a functional, almost industrial touch to galactic style, something they’ve seemed to master.
Luis De Javier welcomed darkness back to the runway, but seen through the lens of “La Ruta Del Bakalao,” a 1990s underground rave movement. The designer who has dressed celebrities such as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Cardi B, De Javier is currently being mentored by Riccardo Tisci.
At his New York Fashion Week debut, which had Julia Fox walk the runway, jeans and latex were materials at the forefront. Now, it’s a bit more about red devil sequins, leather, bandeaus, veils, corsets, jerseys and workwear.
Meanwhile, Sergio Hudson’s chic, clean attire (which calls to mind hints of Halston) lit up Nya Studios, focusing on quiet luxury. Yes, latte girl neutrals are wildly popular this fall, and this look will never go out of style in a city like Los Angeles. Some of the best items were sheer white, floral patterned and featuring traditional blazer cuts.
But this presentation would have been better if everyone had stayed in their seats, or stood against the wall. It became difficult to see the presentation when the audience stepped into the show, holding up their phones (the event’s security did not object).
Sadly, this is something we are seeing increasingly at fashion weeks everywhere. Runway shows are more about the photography than the fashion. The entire fashion industry is seen through a smartphone, and it feels like there is no alternative.
There were also several fashion-focused roundtables and panel discussions at LAFW, but none of them focused on financing a brand or profiting in the fashion industry as a creative professional, something that desperately needs to be talked about.
While LAFW has grown since its reinvention last year, when president Ciarra Pardo and Imad Izemrane re-launched it with N4XT Experiences, it still needs time to grow.
Even though the Council of Fashion Designers of America has now officially recognized LAFW (which, I know, sounds like some kind of knighthood), the best way for LAFW to really establish itself is to not be afraid of mainstream brands or big-name celebrities. Star power goes very far for a Hollywood-based fashion week, as we know, and there’s nothing wrong with packing your front row with A-list talents.
Within their vision of showcasing “the future of fashion,” LAFW also need to honor the past. Rarely do we ever see a panel discussion with women fashion photographers, for example, or female stylists or makeup artists who have been honing their craft for decades—representations of the female gaze in fashion, something that is seen from more than one perspective.
Women need to feel seen, truly be heard, and take up space. Los Angeles is full of women leaders that need no introduction and deserve the spotlight, and hopefully, we’ll see more next year.
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