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Modeled Fashions Designing Women 2009
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S. Tiara's Birthday and Fashion Show- Kress
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UNIQUE LOS ANGELES: 12/13-12/14

Modeled Fashions Designing Women 2009

                              It’s the beginning of the new year, which didn’t stop entrepreneur JS (John Smith) from putting on the first show of the year- “Modeled Fashions, Designing Women 2009,” held at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood. Smith founded his company, Modeled Fashions Entertainment Group in September 2008 as a result in wanting to change the attitude and concept of his first company, First Take Entertainment. He chose Modeled Fashion as the new name because he wanted to be “modeled” and emulated by other people in the industry.  He wanted “Modeled Fashions, Designing Women 2009” to be the first show in 2009…thus setting the bar in fashion in 2009. He is about enhancing creativity, not only his own, but fellow artists as well.   He will go out and find entertainers, models, designers and comedians that haven’t had their chance in the industry and give them the opportunity to live their dreams. He also gives 110% effort helping fellow artists. And “Modeled Fashions, Designing Women 2009” did just that.

      It was held on Saturday, January 17th at the Celebrity Centre’s Garden Pavilion in Hollywood. Being somewhat early I was able to catch up with the designers of the show before taking my seat at the front of the runway.

Houstina Summers of Cowgirl Heaven was the first designer I ran into. She has been designing for one year and is self-taught. She specializes in couture and party dresses. She makes all the patterns and sews everything herself and loves experimenting with different styles and looks. Her inspiration is God (is love.) She credits the colors in the sky and sun that inspire her as well. Also that she loves dresses and she knows that every woman loves a great dress. Her advice to budding designers and business owners, “If you can see it, you can do it…If you can envision it, if you have the heart and passion for it, you can do it.”

Another featured designer of the evening was Katie Manzella of K. Manzella. Katie has done a few shows with JS and they support each other. She has been designing since she was thirteen in the Punk Rock Era. She made her own clothes and refined her style. She does everything herself- from the sketching to the sewing. However, when she does manufacture, it will be here in LA under regulation. She is adamant on helping out the economy and making sure that people are treated well (health insurance, no child labor and livable wages.) Her inspiration for this collection came from the women of the 1900’s- 1940’s because they were glamorous and cared about how they looked.  To them, going out and dressing up was a special occasion. When her company gets bigger, she wants to create a trend in LA of giving back more and being more aware of people. “It’s not just about the clothes that come out, it’s about the process of creating them.”

The next line are was also the first to show their goods down the runway. This team of three generations- Grandmother, Mother and Daughter created a line of leggings and vests named Tru Britt. The collection for the show was comprised of leggings ranging from mid-length, stirrup, long and gathered. They used liquid latex and faux leathers. The price points for the leggings range from $40-45. The tie- vests are very versatile and since they are made from soft netting, they take up hardly any room in the suitcase! The vests are $35- a great deal in this rough economy. Their website is coming soon!

As I kept interviewing the designers, I found that we had one thing in common…FIDM. Like the designer I’m about to introduce- Pam Mbanga. She has been designing for four years. So far, she has showcased in seven shows in Canada as well as Edmonton Fashion Week. Her inspirations for the the evening’s show is the sexy woman…She’s confident, she knows who she is and doesn’t have to show too much skin to be sexy. Pam’s favorite fabrics, and the most difficult to work with, are chiffons and organzas. She makes all the patterns and sews everything herself. She sells online and at the FIDM Scholarship Store, as well as selling in boutiques in Toronto and London. Check out her collection at www.mbangainc.com.

Another Canadian and fellow FIDM student is Erica Cee Steeves, who has been designing for five years. She has done two other shows in Canada for her school. She found her inspiration at the Balloon Festival in Canada. She loved the hot-air balloons and their colors. She does evening wear, cocktail and party dresses. Her favorite saying is “Life’s all about working, so why not like what you’re wearing.”

The last fantastic designer on my roster is Kimberly  Alfaro of Kimberly Alfaro Collections. The “Collections” mean that the pieces are the best of the best of everything she has done. Her pieces have a lot of silk and peacock influences.  She also incorporates Swarovski Crystals and embroidery into her designs. She is also a fan of trains on dresses. Her silhouettes  are sleek, classical and accent the hour-glass figure. She uses Marc Jacobs and Roberto Cavalli as influences. One of the dresses in the collection, a denim dress with a long train has an Oscar de la Renta influence. She grew up with a family of sewers and has pretty much been designing all her life. She has been designing professionally for seven to eight years. As far as hearing about JS, she heard from the head of the texile department at FIDM and immediately jumped at the great opportunity. Her designs can be viewed at www.kimberlyalfaro.com.

I want to give special thanks to comedian, D Shorte, who did a very funny routine during intermission and Miss Guatemala, Krys De La Mora. They were great MCs throughout the event. Also, Terra Incognita, who performed during the runway shows. The wonderful models that rocked the runway. The creative eyewear, Tingaling. The sponsors of the show: Vice, Glass House PR, Jacob’s Shoes for the Stars. He handmakes 70% of the shoes and has a boutique on Melrose. Lastly, Glammin School of Make-up in Orange County.

S. Tiara's Birthday and Fashion Show- Kress

Hollywood’s latest hotspot, Kress, was the place to be last Thursday the 18th. It was the birthday of hairstylist Stephanie Tiara, which also included a fashion show; featuring designers: Michael Benz and Kristen Don. Despite having to be at work early the next day, I went…Partly because I knew Michael and the show’s producer, Brand, from past fashion events.

After a half-hour or so of waiting to be let in, I finally was “branded” with a mushroom stamp on my inner wrist and was ushered in with a “Congratulations…” by one of the security guards. I breezed up the stairs and into a small lobby where I had to wait for an elevator that would whisk me up to the rooftop festivities.

The elevator doors opened and I walked around. Due to the cold weather, the roof was semi-covered and there were heat lamps (not enough in my opinion, but I get cold easily) that scattered the venue. The evening was clear and the view of the surrounding city was spectacular.

While waiting for the fashion show to begin, I caught up with one of the designers, Michael Benz, who is also a VJ. He is the designer of the line, Blive Couture (pronounced believe.) Blive is a mix of rock, cool, classy and edgy couture. It’s slogan is ‘Respect, Love, Couture.’ The line boasts hats and jackets, all handmade by Benz, without the help of patterns and measurements; and will feature a shoe line in 2009. As a friend of Stephanie, who’s also modeled in some of his fashion shows, he did the show as a birthday and Christmas present for her. She also wore one of his designs that evening.  Michael likes to “live now, forget tomorrow.” He is inspired by music, art and people; one person in particular is Jen. He says that she a style that no one else has. For the latest news and events on Michael, check out www.vjmichaelbenz.com.

I would like to also give kudos to the other designer, Kristen Don. I loved the denim, flowy dresses and the tops that were made from scarves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to speak with her.

Since the show’s producer was a little busy due to taking care of the show, I caught up with him at the Bourgeois Pig in Hollywood. Brandon Birtwistle or Brand, as he likes to be referred to, is an actor, model and most importantly, an entrepreneur. He started out as an actor and booked a photo shoot in Tokyo for Baby Dior at the age of two. He told me that since he’s been in the industry for awhile he become the “go-to guy”, people started coming to him to find other people to book other people…ie models, photographers, etc. That being said, brings us to the present. Everytime he has produced a show, it has gotten bigger and better. For the Kress show, it took one and a half to two months to plan. He is good friends with Stephanie and she approached him with the idea. The show did not have a budget, but he credits the will of the awesome people that helped along the way. Brand believes that it’s better to work with people than to work above, below or for someone. He wanted to give some special shout-outs to some of the sponsors of the show: MUAH make-up artists who have always helped at his shows, Welcome Clothing, Elitescene *thank you Gio*. He also wanted to bring awareness to another designer, M the Movement, an eco-friendly company that specializes in bamboo and silks. They plant trees to offset the energy they have used.

Since Stephanie Tiara was somewhat busy herself during the show, I caught up with her on the phone. She is a well-known  hairstylist at 9022 Salon in West Hollywood. She chose Kress because her friend who did Thursday nights there, got her the venue. She wanted to add a fashion show to her party because she wanted to first performance as a rapper to be with the show, since the song is about fashion. She also did shows with Brand and wanted to combine his and her talents to put on the show. She chose Michael Benz as one of the designers and Brand and her thought that Kristen’s style was good for the show as well. During the show, she and Jazmine performed, “We Got That” while the models strutted down the center aisle. She had help with the song, but is starting to write her own lyrics. Her inspirations are hip-hop and rock. She wanted to combine her talent and style with fashion.

Congratulations to Stephanie on her birthday and to Brand for directing/producing a fantastic show!!

UNIQUE LOS ANGELES: 12/13-12/14

              The cold weather that hit Los Angeles this weekend didn’t seem to put a damper on the holiday shoppers that flocked to the California Market Center in search of last minute  gifts at the first annual Unique Los Angeles gift and design show. The show boasted over 200 vendors, as well as booths by the LA Weekly and Myspace Music. There were drink promotions by Izze, Bossa Nova and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

               I had a chance to sit down with the founder of Unique Los Angeles, Sonja Rasula. She not only is the creator of this wonderful event, but she has a line of stationary that she was selling there as well. She developed the concept of having an independent designer show in later September of 2008. She wanted people to realize the value and worth of design. She wanted a modern, fresh way for people to shop, without having to shop at a mall.

        I was also curious to see if the current economy has had an impact on the vendors and what her prediction for the consumers. Due to it being the end of the year, some merchants had items left over. Others were fine, however there were some stores that had to close in the past few months . This show was a great way to help them sell their extra merchandise and get their name out there. As for the consumers, the prediction is that people don’t have the money that they did a few months back, though there was something for very budget. I must add as a personal observation, that it is different from buying at a mall. Buying local means that you can meet the person(s) that make the products and there is a one-on-one relationship between the transactions.

         There were a few designers that have celebrity status in the fashion industry and had booths at the show, such as Rojas, who recently was featured at the BoxEight shows during fashion week. Freddie Rojas is a men’s and women’s designer based in LA and does four collections a year. He chose to be amongst the vendors due to overstock and it’s a great way to promote his line. Among his signature pieces are tie necklaces-little bow ties and skinny long ties on a chain that both sexes can wear dressed up or down. This season, he updated the cardigan. One style with kimono sleeves, pockets and an elongated body. Another version is a draped body with no sleeves. Personally, I loved them both and was eyeing the men’s Mondrian printed tee, which would look great with leggings and boots. You can view his collections at www.rojasonline.com.

I also ran into Smoke and Mirrors designer, Emily Brandle, of Project Runway fame.  She, along with business partner, Michelle Chaplain, started the line in late 2006. Ms. Brandle was on ‘Project Runway Season Five’ during the summer and fall. She wanted to include pieces (for the show) that would be good for the fall. One of the key pieces was a cute reversible flipside jacket. Her line is available online at www.smokeandmirrorsclothing.com.

Other fashion designers I thought were interesting were ‘Clothing of the American Mind’, an eco-friendly company that launched in 2004, the one year anniversary of the Iraq War. They sold tees at one of the LA rallies. COTAM raises money for other progressive organizations with the sale of their t-shirts. Some tees are connected to specific organizations, such as: HCLW and Unscrw America. There is a special tee with the slogan, “Love Across Barriers” designed by Project Runway contestant Jack Mackenroth. This tee was launched on December 1st, World AIDS Day. Most of their tees are made with polyester, spun from recycle bottles and organic cotton. Check them out at www.cotam.org. Two of my designer friends shared a booth at the show. Corrie Hill Sullivan, a children’s designer and Julia LoVan. This is Corrie’s second craft show. She has been interested in baby clothes and interiors since she finished college. After she moved to LA from Ireland, she has worked for several designers before started her line. She finds inspiration through color, fabrics and textiles. She believes that it’s important that each child has something individual and handmade. For more of her beautiful designs, go to www.corriehill.com. For my other friend, Julia LoVan, Unique Los Angeles is her first big show. Over the years, she has designed under different names, however, in July 2008, she started Julia LoVan Dresses. Her specialties are dresses, totes and handpainted tees. She also specializes in DIYing vintage pieces from the dollar sales at Jet Rag on LaBrea. Her totes, made from vintage fabrics are one of her best-sellers. She finds inspiration everywhere from junior-high kids and kids where she works to magazines and style.com; though her biggest inspiration is from God. Whenever she makes something, she prays a lot. She is currently working on getting one of her dresses mass-produced. Her prices points range from $50-60 for a tee to the low $100’s for when the dresses get mass-produced. For more on Julia, tune in to www.julialovandresses.etsy.com.

There were many jewelry lines at the show. A few that caught my interest were, Tiger Lily by Heather Gardner. Gardner is based in Malibu. Since Heather was not present at the show, I spoke to her assistant, Ally. She told me that Heather loves nature. She finds her inspiration in Malibu and nature. She loves making jewelry that is delicate and that women can wear. Her pieces are very versatile. They can be worn long or short or even in layers. Her pieces range from $60-200 and $65 for earrings. For more of her line, go to www.tigerlilycollections.com. Another line had some very cute handcrafted fruit necklaces. Go to www.juliabristowjewelry.com. At a booth that she shared with an Eco-Friendly company, jewelry designer Amy Annab, who created beautiful bracelets and earrings from gemstones and ornate wire-wrapping. She is reachable via www.myspace.com/namastecreations. Another booth had pop-art jewelry for sale. Product designer (as he likes to refer himself) Steven Shein loves to play with color, line and form. He sells globally and at Fred Segal. The line has a celebrity following and he is doing a collaboration in February with Toki Doki. His words of wisdom, “Fashion shouldn’t be taken too seriously…” Check out his fab line at www.shopstevenshein.com. The last line that caught my eye was Myfriendroze. Some wares in particular were the necklaces, bracelets, etc, made from molds of bubble wrap, which designer Rose Braunstein made. She made the cast and then made the pieces out of sterling silver. She loved popping the packing material as a kid. (Let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Her other inspirations were circles, which are never ending. You can reach her at www.myfriendroze.com.

In the midst of all the handmade goodness, I came across an oasis, known as The Body Bar. I then saw a sign beckoning customers with a “$25 massage.” I just had to stop by. I spoke to the massage therapist, Roxi and she told me that the massage was 25 minutes, basically $1 per minute. Knowing my budget was tight, I told her I would be back later. I thanked her and then walked away. After a few minutes, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Roxi. She told me she spoke with her manager, Julie and since they haven’t had any customers yet, I could be the ‘guinea pig.’ I gladly accepted, knowing that my aching shoulders would thank me. Roxi did a fantastic job and when visit the Body Bar in Silverlake, I will ask for her. Before I left, I also received another perk. An eyebrow waxing by the fabulous Vivian. She was quick and the end result were two perfectly arched brows.

For the last leg of the journey, I would like to point out (despite this being a fashion blog) that there were also some great handbag, as well as photographers and all things kitsch. There was a booth with leather purses that have been seen on the arm of Hayden Panetierre and other celebs. The line is Tucker Paisley and was created by Tracy Franklin, who also founded www.stylechick.com with business partner, Kevin Tidwell. Stylechick.com is a great site to network with other fashionistas and industry insiders. And check out www.tuckerpaisley.com. There was an eco-friendly portion of the show, one booth in particular was Ecobooma, Inc. And just who is responsible for this line of environmentally conscious and extremely fashionable totes and tees? Ms. Hillary Danner. The company is 100% women owned and are geared toward manufacturing here in the States. As they want to support the country they live in. Danner, along with Maria Newman also have a parent company, Jenkins Jellies, which they make right at home on their stove and is of course organic. I had the opportunity to taste the mandarin marmalade and it was wonderful. Check out this great company at www.ecobooma.com.

Now I don’t know about ya’ll, but I am a fan of kitsch. Pamela Barsky’s booth was definitely the right fit! There were fabric buttons and fun little buttons with slogans and pictures of states. Journals on divorce and therapy and luggage tags that were uber-hilarious. Ms. Barsky designed everything herself. Go to www.pamelabarsky.com for more information! I also stopped by a booth run by Portland, Oregon photographer, Misha Ashton. She had prints, prints on woodblocks and abstract photo jewelry available. Her work is amazing, you must check out her site at www.mishaashton.com.

For more info on UNIQUE LOS ANGELES, check out www.uniquelosangeles.com. The next show is scheduled for May 2009. I want to extend a special thanks to the volunteers! You guys are awesome! I can’t wait to work with you again!!!!

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