Project Ethos kicked off LA fashion week with yet another extravagant event. The transformation of The Avalon nightclub, on the epic corner of Hollywood and Vine, into a melting pot of creative arts, was breathtaking. Once one got past the check-in, red carpet shutterbug frenzy, Absolute Vodka Honey Lounge, Fredrick’s of Hollywood & Carlton Hair sponsor booths, the venue was a maze of floors & rooms. Each nook of this grand venue nestled a plethora of designers/creators.
The top floors of the Bardot lounge looked mesmerizing, decorated with paintings/photographs showcasing a surfeit of new talent. The tier of balcony’s and private VIP terraces overlooked the grandiose center stage where seven upcoming designers showcased their new collections. As anticipated from the success of all their previous shows, Jason Peskin, Executive Director of Ethos, is known for booking the best entertainment. Robonists and Yolanda Be Cool rocked the night with their tunes.
The show was kick started by vivacious host Cham Nou, with the Vitamin Water Zero Flavor Fashionista Challenge. Each Designer was challenged to design a garment in their individual style, inspired by a specific flavor & color of Vita Zero. It was an audience choice award and the winner was determined through a text vote poll. This was such a relevant challenge and the prize offered for the young designer was a generous $3000. Designer Renata J won this challenge with her design for Vita Zero flavor XXX. Her dress that won the maximum votes was her red one-shoulder shaded maxi dress with exaggerated rosette detailing & embellishment.
The show unfolded into a fascinating mélange of styles that each designer presented for their Spring/Summer collections. The line up for the night was: Fredrick’s of Hollywood Swimwear, Melissa VeliaReneta J, Age of Aquarius, Ermelinda Manos, Dominique Ansari and Seth Aaron Henderson. Designer Melissa Velia had the most prominent start to show. A ballerina arabesqued down the runway doing an interpretation of the Black Swan. The model ballerina was styled with a theatrical bow shaped hairdo and wore dramatic black pointe shoes. Fredrick’s of Hollywood Swimwear models used beach ball props that they tossed out into the audience. Most of the music used on the runway was electronic mixes of contemporary top 40 music. Age of Aquarius definitely switched the pace and set a cool mood using old school hip-hop tracks. The retro refined velour jumpsuit in bold shade of aborigine & antique buttons stood out in this collection. Dominique Ansari and Reneta J played it safe with neutral colors and pastel ensembles. There were a lot of asymmetrical silhouettes and dresses with use of ruching and appliqué.
Designers Ermelinda Manos and Project Runway Winner Seth Aaron Henderson really stood out with their distinctive collections. Ironically both collections were inspired by 50’s-60’s military look but each designer had such a polarity in the way they showcased this style.
I caught up with beautiful Ermelinda backstage, radiating exhilaration after her successful show. This Vegas based designer has been making clothes since she can remember. She shared with me that she was experimenting with the “hippy reflex” look in this collection as she celebrated a strong independent look. Her use of lace, raw silks and net in this summery dress collection was exquisite. Flowing silhouettes and flirty hemlines strongly identified the youthful nature of Linda. Her entire collection was wearable and had great marketability. Her design sense permeated through the styling of her models as they sashayed down the runway to a mix of French vocal music. I like how the opening garment of her show as well as the finale, were variations of the same composition and shared sheer accents. The finale dress was a stunning floor length maxi with décolleté that elegantly revealed the model’s back and shoulders. Runway still maintains that Ermelinda is a force to be reckoned with.
Project Runway Winner Seth Aaron debuted his SA MOD line to close the show. He stayed with his signature hues of black, white and red only adding nuances of purple to complete this brilliantly crafted collection. Seth was such a vibrant bundle of energy when we talked. He came across as a humble & driven designer. His entire SA MOD collection was created to perfection in just 11 days. The defined silhouettes and precise fit of these structured garments told the story of Seth’s experience and training. He said “ I wanted to create a ready to wear collection, that resembled the 40’s-60’s style (i.e.: a 50’s cocktail dress deconstructed), just reinvented to make them relevant now”. A few of these pieces are available already under the label: Seth Aaron.
Seth’s attention to detail and flare for couture intermixed well and the product was a classy contemporary ready to wear collection! He styled the outfits to a uniform style of shoe, a clever trick designers use to keep focus on just garments. His use of herringbone really spiced up the runway in audacious cocktail dresses. The use of leather, bold accessories and his trademark rocker-military style captivated all spectators at Avalon that night. He concluded by saying “It was such a pleasure to work with and support a cause like Ethos which gives young designers such a great podium to present their trade. The level of professionalism was one I am used to and enjoy working with. I am done with this collection, and now its ready for production. It’s always humbling to hear feedback from fashion forward audiences”. Seth leaves back for Portland next week to go back to the drawing board at his studio. He will be taking some time off soon to relax in his newly purchased home in Washington. He expressed his love for this city, and hopes to set up a workshop here in LA soon.
The after party continued into the wee hours of the morning. The air was abuzz with musicians, models, stylists, press, celebrities, artists and a bevy of Hollywood fashion royalty. Ethos orchestrates such a brilliant platform for all these art forms to integrate. Events like Carpe Diem, build a network for aspiring and upcoming designers to launch their labels. Ethos continually manages to put on premium productions and event,s while still giving each designer a launching pad to start making their LA dreams come true.
Ethos has done it again! I left the venue charged and inspired. The echoes of lively laughter and the up-tempo thump of house music trickled onto the Blvd., parking lots aflurry with rolling racks and labeled collections. Excited buyers compared gifts from their swag bags whilst handing out cards to persistent publicists. We seized the night and kicked off the start to another LA Fashion Week.
Article by AmbiKa “B” Sanjana
Photography Raphael Maglonzo