Saturday, November 1, 2008
Optimism Graces the Runway at Fresh Faces in Fashion
Local designers presenting their Spring 2009 collections at the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion Show held Thursday at the Regency Center proved there is adequate space in fashion for vibrancy and lightness despite what the evening news might say. Following suit with trends seen at the major Spring collections shown in September, the designers presented a variety of views that show optimism still reigns supreme on the runway.
Christopher Collins opened the show with his collection of modern Elizabethan silhouettes in luxurious fabrics, incorporating ruffles, organza and chiffon in the tiny details. The show opened strong with a soft neutral ruffle collar sleeveless top paired with a pin stripe short and Elizabethan jacket. A champagne sleeveless cocktail dress with a folded tulle-lined collar was sweet and demure, while a palace blue and emerald floral chiffon/charmeuse dress with a rouched waistband presented a flirty modern take on a sheath. The show closed with my favorite look – a blue and green print on white full skirt with fuchsia tulle below the hemline and a silk organza top with shirred collar that just floated the model down the runway.
Serial Cultura, designed by Jennifer Jennings, provided a stark contrast to Collins with more close to the skin shapes and experiments in digitally printed silks and chiffon. It’s important to note that all of the prints and graphics incorporated into the clothing are designed from original photographs and inspired by abundant elements in the environment. A large percentage of the fabrics used are sustainable and produced in less environmentally hazardous methods. Particularly interesting looks from the collection included a digitally printed silk mini-dress in bold colors of the season – lemon, fuchsia and black - over a pale lavender canvas and a matching print pleated triangle top and skirt hand silk-screened on sophisticated hues of blue and lavender.
The only Menswear collection at Fresh Faces, üba was all about utility and function. The color palette didn’t stray far from khakis or army greens, but the focus was on the usefulness of the clothing, urban wear to the hilt. Models marched down the runway with iPod ear buds (I couldn’t help think of Project Runway’s Jay Carroll and his final “headphones” show), showcasing utility jackets with shoulder-strap pockets and detachable waist pockets, cargo pants with detachable cargo pockets, and finally eliciting the most attention from the crowd, short sleeve shirts with detachable chest, waist and sleeve pockets. Throughout each look, models sported “why-not-peace” T-shirts in different languages - a reflection of the company’s goals and a current project of üba’s designer Rajesh Ananda. According to the company’s web site, “over 50% of üba’s profits are channeled to non-profit organizations focused on the promotion and protection of peace and human security” with input from the company’s customers.
From streetwear to “sweetwear” next up was my personal favorite – OdileOdette - designed by Stephanie Bodnar and Nicole Kreglow. The collection was green and sustainable and completely chic – think Parisian café society meets the French Riviera. The range of fabrics used was astounding – the first looks showed an asymmetrical pencil skirt made from blue hemp/recycled polyester denim with red tagua nut (vegetable ivory) buttons going up the front of its high waist. Paired with a simple ivory gathered open-front top and wedge heels, I could be equally comfortable in this ensemble on the weekend and at work, paired with a dressier heel. Much of the collection had a summery feel with lots of bare legs and shoulders. Mixed in were high-waisted asymmetrical sailor pants in 100% hemp herringbone paired with a green and white striped sleeveless knit top of organic cotton; a beige chevron hooded jacket also in hemp herringbone with ivory tagua nut buttons and for the finale, a wedding gown made in ivory hemp/silk charmeuse and ivory cotton Chantilly lace.
Sofie Ølgaard presented a sophisticated and supremely wearable collection of mostly knits and silks in dusty purples and greys most likely inspired by her homeland of Denmark and the melancholic Scandinavian landscapes. A two-tone pink/taupe dress in silk/cotton with a belted waist could work equally well in summer or kept later for cool weather layered with a little cashmere. A knitted dusty purple silk dress with a detachable bow was daring and very bare, while a taupe empire waist pant paired with a black silk/cotton tie-back top was as crisp and breezy as a day in Copenhagen. And a cropped black jumpsuit with buttons along the front, hidden pockets and a detachable belt could be the outfit of the season for a girl and her bike in the city.
The final collection by Louisa Parris was a bonafide swirl of long flowing yet wispy dresses in saturated hues of pink, blue, green and orange. Every look was ripe with drama from the first blue, grey and black double silk georgette gown that billowed around the model’s legs to an almost completely open black and cream silk charmeuse gown with a silk chiffon underskirt. In addition to her bold use of color blocking, Parris showcased a tiny collection of delicate black hats that paired with a burnt orange, grey and black silk charmeuse might be a bit over the top, but worn to an intimate masked ball somewhere in a castle in the English countryside seem perfect.
Fresh Faces is known to be a springboard for fashion’s emerging design talent, including Zac Posen, Rebecca Taylor and Philip Lim. Here’s hoping that at least one or all of these local designers receives an opportunity to travel through wide-open doors while keeping the spirit of San Francisco alive in their practice and aesthetics.
To see more pictures of the show please visit The Innovative Fashion Council on Facebook.