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Runway Rhythm Showcase 2/28/09
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Runway Magazine's Oscar Gifting Suite 2/21/09
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"CHOOSE CHINATOWN" Boutique Grand Opening 2/13/09

Runway Rhythm Showcase 2/28/09

What mixes fashion, models and hip choreography? Why  “Runway Rhythm Showcase” held at the Celebrity Centre on the last day of February. The brain-child of  Samuel Westley, featured six incredible designers as well as up-and-coming models, both male and female, ranging from kids to juniors to adults. I was incredibly lucky to be sitting in the front row, getting wowed by the rhythmic choreography (another endeavor by Wesley), performed by the models.

    In 1991, Mr. Wesley founded “Runway Rhythm”, though, at the time, it was another name. The company is based on Christian ethics and they strive to bring about emerging designers, models and entertainers. For more information on this inspiring man and the company, go to www.runwayrhythm.com.

May I present the ‘designers of the hour’…

QUEEN AMINAH- The African- Inspired clothing is sold at the African Marketplace in Crenshaw Mall. The Queen Aminah label features colorful tunics/tops, pants, dresses for men, women and children.

RAW- The designer for this line pays high attention to detail in her clothing. The line is eco-friendly, meaning that she uses natural fabrics and recycles old clothing to make beautiful new creations. RAW was featured in the Runway Rhythm Adult Show. For more information, please contact erinnvogt@gmail.com.

ARIANA’S BOUTIQUE- Located in Valley Village, this boutique features one-of-a-kind special events, wedding, prom, casual and club wear and accessories from international, as well as local designers. These pieces are available in juniors and womens sizes. ARIANA’S is located at 12464 Magnolia Blvd. Valley Village, CA 91607. Their phone number is 818-602-6334.

NIC- The designer, Nic, emphasizes design, texture and color into her collections of day and evening wear. She is currently getting her 2009 loungewear, made from silk charmeuse, ready for viewing at future events.  

COWGIRL HEAVEN- Designer Houstina Summers awed the crowd with her colorful party dresses. The models strutted down the runway, while also performing a dance routine that  truly fit the CowGirl Heaven ‘look’. Houstina’s inspiration for her new pieces included in the collection that I had previously seen in another show; was “glitter”, she loves sparkle and it indeed, showed in her collection. She also designs for the plus-size women as well, as were shown in the runway show.

HEIR- This line, founded in 2003, features fun designs for men, women and children. Heir is showcased in 90 stores nationwide as well as online. The company is also following the “it” trend of the season by being ‘Green’ in their baby line.

7  STAR- Designer Michilen continued to impress the audience with flowy dresses, perfect for the Summer season. She also provided the men with African-Inspired tunics and pants and they did a fantastic job showing off her designs and even walked her down the runway at the end of the show.

Special Thanks to Jeena Quansah for being a wonderful MC for the show and for providing additional information about the designers, the twins from www.twinofakind.com,  who provide self-esteem classes to children and adults; the models, Sam Wesley and his wife, hair/make-up provided by Miss Tanya’s and Marinello School of Beauty.

Runway Magazine's Oscar Gifting Suite 2/21/09

          It’s not often that an invitation to an exclusive gifting suite for the Oscars, comes knocking at the door. But in my case (and a little help from LookbookLA.com) , I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a gifting suite, hosted by Runway  Magazine, held on the 20thand 21st of February. So, not only do I get a taste of “stardom” if you will, but I also had a rare opportunity to step inside Liberace’s Penthouse. The penthouse is owned by a friend of Runway ‘s President- James Buccelli. Runway also has offices in the space. Some amenities of this venue include a mirrored hallway, small pool and a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Hollywood Hills.

         I caught up with James out by the pool. He started Runway  Magazine two years ago. The company is also doing a TV show that will teach the viewers how to start a magazine…from concept to creation. Runway has been doing the Oscar gifting suit annually, along with suites for the Emmies and  Grammies. He explained that Runway’s Gifting Suites are different from others. It’s not about making money, it’s about everyone having a good time. It’s where the celebrities can come and not be bombarded…People can relax, eat sushi or other award-winning catered foods or even take a dip in the pool. The goal is also to help promote the clients, whether they be the celebrities, PR firms, stylists, media or a certain product.

Speaking of clients promoting their goods n’ wares, I would like to start off with  artist Juan de Lascurain. De Lascurain, a native of Mexico, paints (on canvas and clothing) and has a television show called, “Dream Big”-available in twenty-three Spanish-speaking countries. He also has a “Dream Big” night on Thursdays at a gallery in Culver City. He does high-end and acrylic paintings, along with digital designs.  About a year ago, he began painting his vibrant designs on clothing. Six years ago, he founded, Vida Youth, which helps to inspire people. He gets his inspiration everywhere. He loves life and from where he’s from, the Latin people love life. He wants people to follow their dreams. He says that if you have a dream, faith and you work hard…you can accomplish anything. Check him out at www.delascurain.com and www.vidayouth.com.

Since California is a “Green” state, then it would only be appropriate to have at least one eco-friendly company at the gifting suite. Darleen Reilly, president of Agreenday.org was giving out Globo Bags- reusable dry-cleaning bags made from recycled plastic bottles and valued at $125. She was approached by Mandy (from Runway) at the GoGreen Expo. She loved the bags and loved the fact that Darleen’s products are 100% American madeand insisted that Darleen be apart of the gifting suite. Celebrities that own this piece of dry-cleaning phenomenon include: Russell Simmons, First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah, Tyler Perry and Jennifer Hudson; just to name a few. If you would like to purchase the “Globo Bag” or other Earth-friendly bags (made from Organic Cotton), go to www.Agreenday.org.

Another vendor, selling fun tattoo-inspired hats was ZZPrado. Designer Elizabeth Prado was on hand to tell me a little about her line. She offers: ZZ Prado Men/ Women and Swimwear, though her best sellers are her one-of-a-kind hats, which sold for $65 at the show, but are $100 on up regular price. She is a very creative person and there’s not a moment when she’s not inspired. Her collection can be viewed at www.zzprado.com.

And then there were shoes…well, sexy and sophisticated high-heeled boots to be exact. Some were Western-style, others were fur-trimmed or if you preferred some blinged-out heels; those were on hand as well. Monique Capelta is the creative head  and CEO behind the company, Capelta. It all started in NYC, when she went to a Goodwill, picked up a pair of boots and some pieces of leather and the rest they say…is history… This past Christmas, she got her first shipment of product and this is her first launch. Her funky, edgy and rock star boots range from $395 – 2,200. Her online store is www.capelta.com.

When I walked inside, I noticed a table with rows of creatively designed hats. The designer was Anita Hopkins, of Anita Hopkins Millinery. She has been designing all her life, but turned her hobby into a career twenty years ago. Her hats are chic, elegant and versatile. She wants to create hats that have a new modern twist. One of her signature hats is the Confederate hat, which resembles the uniform hat worn by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. It is very versatile; can be worn sideways or with the brim in the back. Her hats have graced the heads of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including: Pink, Janet Jackson, Dave Navarro, just to name a few. The hats range from $385 – 450, more if you want it customized. Her hats are available online at www.anitahopkinsla.com.

While I was walking around, taking in the sites, I noticed a girl doing an interview, while showing off her handmade handbags. After the interview, I had the opportunity to also talk to her about the bags. Her name is Jenn Bagby of BagbyRoyal Handbags. She has been in business for six years on and off. Like Ms. Prado, Jenn too, finds inspiration in everything, from a building to another designer…even to a random thought. She loves working with upholstery and  cotton silks, depending on her mood. One of her signature pieces is a purse with a long tulle veil. I thought it was a very unique piece and is what caught my eye in the first place. This is her first gifting suite and she was very excited to be a part of it. Her handmade creations range from $50- 200. Her website, www.bagbyroyal.comis currently under construction, but she does have a myspace page.

Special thanks to: James Buccelli, Brad Barker, Mandy and the rest of the staff of Runway  Magazine (www.runwaymagazinela.com), the kind people of Park West for providing complimentary valet parking for the event, Hydrodynamics, Moxxor, Monavie, Jeff Knight Photography, J-Star Media, Sashi Sushi of Manhattan Beach, gift bags donated by Shoes for the Stars.

"CHOOSE CHINATOWN" Boutique Grand Opening 2/13/09

Nestled in the heart of Chinatown on Gin Ling Way, amidst the kitschy shops selling Chinatown souvenirs, is a narrow boutique, who’s only advertisement is its name, “Choose Chinatown” stenciled in white lettering on the windows.  They were having their Grand Opening on Friday the 13th.After a hearty dinner at Hop Louie, my friend and I arrived at the boutique. Since it was still fairly early, not many people were there, but that meant I was able to connect with the sales people and the owners on a more personal level. There were rows of Tecate set up on the front counter, beckoning for the arriving patrons to grab and quench their thirst. Meanwhile, DJ RoRo was playing the latest hits at his booth set up in the corner.

I met up with the owners of the “Pop-Up” shop, as they referred to it, Raymond Tseng and Jason Gillix. The concept of “Choose Chinatown” began about 3 ½ to 4 years ago, when the slogan was just on t-shirts. A friend of Ray’s designed the logo, while the slogan was based off of “Choose Life” during World AIDS Day. Seeing that the neighborhood kids were sporting them and that they were just selling well in general, they decided to open a boutique. They sell the brands, Cheap Monday and WKND. WKND is only sold in Europe, but they had the line shipped to their store. During these tough economic times, the prices aren’t bad either. Price points range from $20- $250. The best selling item, being the jeans, sell for $70 and the “CHOOSE CHINATOWN” tees sell for $20.

The designers of the installation were also there, Alex Chew and Danielle Wagner of the firm, All that is Solid. They came up with the idea of a playful, kitschy pop-up store that geared towards the target audience of the youth of this generation. I thought the balloons that decorated the ceiling were a fantastic idea. The total layout of the space was very modern and contemporary, with those little kitsch surprises displayed throughout. They told me that from concept to design, it took about a month, with the installation taking about a week. Check out www.allthatisolid.net for further information. 

Note: The owners of “Choose Chinatown” also own “Lion’s Den” and “Welcome Hunters”, also in Chinatown. For more info, please visit www.choosechinatown.com.  Choose Chinatown is located at 441 Gin Ling Way, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Special thanks to Jose Garcia for letting me drag him out with me to the opening after work and on Friday the 13th….

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