CONCEPT Fashion Week served as the opening ceremony for L.A. Fashion Week Fall 2011. Held at the ACE Gallery, in the heart of the Wilshire district, the venue was the perfect place to host the artistic installations. Friday’s installations were presented by Valerj Pobega, martinMARTIN, Liaison, and Mike Vensel.
Mike Vensel and Brady Westwater founded Concept Fashion Week in 2010 as an alternative for designers who wanted to showcase their latest collections under their own terms. The duo have actually been producing fashion shows since 2004 and have recently expanded CONCEPT to New York Fashion Week as well. They also just partnered up with Doug Christmas, owner of ACE Gallery, to bring their vision of a fusion between art, fashion, and culture to life.
Valerj Pobega had fun with her ‘Kabaret 1939’ installation. The models were dressed up in Valerj’s vaudeville influenced creations. Born in Alghero, Italy, the designer started sewing at a young age – first for her dolls and then for herself during her modeling years. Order for her clothing soon followed, which led to the launch of KG363. The line was very successful in Italy. Having conquered Italy, Valerj moved to Los Angeles and started a new collection under her moniker. She treats every piece as a work of art - designing, cutting, sewing, and dyeing each garment herself. You can see her magnificent attention to detail in the slideshow below.
martinMartin’s ‘Destruction and Rebirth’ installation was quite interesting. It was hard to tell if the models were mannequins or actual live bodies. Founded in 1999 by husband and wife duo, Eric Martin and Diane MossMartin, martinMartin apparel explores the relationship between masculine and feminine. Made from woven and stretch fabrics the clothing is avant-garde with an urban edge. It represents the marriage of three cultures by merging shaping and draping techniques from Japan and the tailoring of Italy with the casualness of the American lifestyle.
Aside from his duties as partner in CONCEPT, Mike Vensel is also a designer/artist/photographer. Mike’s love of travel and architecture inspire his work as his creations are often focused on architectural themes and reflect many cultural influences. His installation featured models in a desert type setting wearing long, flowy dresses.
I was thrilled when I found out that my favorite model, Algo Brehane was walking in the Chemline show and even happier when I ran into her lovely mom Mary. It was great catching up with Mary and even though it had been several months since we last spoke we easily picked up where we left off.
Chemline was launched in 2007 by Averi Bell, a former costume designer. Her love of storytelling inspired her to write a graphic novel with a central heroine who evolved into her muse for Chemline. Averi’s creations, which are made from sustainable and organic textiles and materials, reflect her love for all things cinematic - elegant, dramatic, and classically tailored. The collection featured retro-inspired dresses, tailored blazers, and jumpsuits. A number of the outfits were paired with long gloves, which added an elegant touch.
After the runway show had ended we waited with Mary for Algo. It was awesome to finally get to meet Algo in person. She is even more beautiful up close. We hung out with Mary and Algo until the next show began.
Founded in 2008 by Yugoslavian native, Natasha Gindin, Lavuk is an eco-friendly line that blends classic silhouettes with futuristic looks. Made from organic cotton, tencel, hemp, and dead stock silk the pieces are multi-functional, which allows them to be worn in alternative ways. The Fall 2011 collection was titled “Infinity” and was inspired by the linear symmetry and crisp angles of the Art-Deco movement. The color palate paired orange, deep purple, and pink with black, grey, and gold. The garments were cut using a special technique that gave them a two-dimensional look, and buttons were produced from recycled metal dipped in rose gold.
Narrative by Nikki Neil, Photos by J. Red Top in intro photo courtesy of LisaMichelle