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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at Gen Art Los Angeles 2011

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From ultra-feminine to preppy to gothic, Gen Art's display of up-and-coming designers seemed to be a near variety show. As usual, there were highlights and lowlights -- that's what keeps it exciting right? We'll start with the good news first.

Our favorite collection of the night, Ellis Yu's debut line 71 Stanton made clear her classic-movie inspiration, and married it perfectly with her California sensibilities. We absolutely loved her romper with sequined shorts, layered with a wide V-neck pullover, her layered skirts, and her juxtaposition of geometries with fluid fabrics. Chic but wearable sportswear that we can't wait to get our hands on.

FIDM graduate Jennifer Park's collection Funktional's look lived up to its name. The silhouettes were fairly basic, but very wearable, and the prints and color palette channeled 70s funk almost to the point of looking vintage. The line's accessories and the models' face paint seemed to be Park's attempt to keep current with this season's Native American trend, but we found ourselves wishing she had just kept with the natural 70s look of her saddle bag's fringe and brown suede shoes, rather than pushing it towards the Reservation.

Carrying on the 70s vibe was Stephanie Lampkin's line Odylyne, with lush florals, a sunny yellow color palette, and ruffles galore. Her fabrics were absolutely dreamy; and although we perhaps wouldn't wear half of her designs out of the house, we're fairly sure that we'd still feel like a queen wearing them.

Photographic prints abounded on the runway of Aussie-designed swimwear line We Are Handsome. We were less than impressed by the animal face prints -- wolves and deer, didn't see see those on every sweatshirt coming out of Urban Outfitters a few years ago? -- but we loved the maillot printed with a hot air balloon and field of yellow flowers and the front-zip one-piece printed with windmills.

Created by Grammy-nominated metal bass player Corey Parks, Stand and Deliver's debut collection gave us a dose of goth that we weren't expecting, and frankly hoped we would never be given again on the runway. Spikes, exposed gold zippers, chains, and a lot of black leather transported us straight back to a 1980s Siouxsie and the Banshees concert -- a feeling augmented by the appearance of a male model on a skateboard, an ensuing fight on the runway. The show was also punctuated by a model in a Blue-Man-Group-like body suit, sporting a chain-link contraption on his shoulders and chest. This accessory, along with the majority of garments in the show, appeared far better suited to a novelty display in Maxfield's than an actual runway, which is in fact how the musician-turned-designer got her start. Since then, she's also designed tour costumes for artists such as Rihanna and Marilyn Manson, which seems like a good gig -- one we wish she'd stick with.

The polar opposite of Stand and Deliver, design duo Bianca Benitez and Rob Sinclair's Dear Creatures collection was a bastion of prep, with sailor collars, anchor adornments, seersucker, polka dots, and front-facing bows. We especially loved the tiered, two-toned champagne cocktail dress, with its refreshing simplicity.

The single menswear collection of the night, Chambers, struck a solid middle ground between edginess and wearability, with urban layers and comforting fabrics. Collaborated on by four men, the line's viewpoint is very accessible and endearing, and the garment construction is appealingly durable.

· Gen Art LA
· All LAFW coverage [Racked LA]