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Grave Glamour at the Calavera Fashion Show and Walking Altars

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It sounded like the most cracked-out Project Runway ever: Take barbed wire, tulle, paper mache, a shower curtain, and glitter, and use it to design a dress that honors the memory of your immigrant ancestors. (Which, now that we think about it, sounds like really good TV.) It was the 7th Annual Calavera Fashion Show at Tropico de Nopal gallery and art space in Echo Park. About 600 people turned up Saturday night for the spectacle. More than 20 artists and designers created work, and accompanying theater, that paid tribute to causes, people and ideas that inspired them. There was high concept, like Abel Alejandre's "Newsie" look, and paper mache skeletons that mourned the passing of the age of the daily paper. Stephanie Mercado Reyes created a Galliano-worthy masterpiece to honor working class sewers and garment workers; and Marianne Sadowski created a delicate, black and white frock with red beading to honor her mother, and the act of immigrating. There was even a house-rockin', calavera-style Michael Jackson.

Didn't make it? Stop by the gallery to view selected dresses from shows of the last five years. "Like a Prayer"-era Madonna would have killed for some of these getups.
· Tropic de Nopal [Official Site]