By Melonie Magruder
September 11, 2012 -- Not to be outdone by Fashion Week currently underway in New York City, Santa Monica celebrated Fashion’s Night Out Thursday evening with a runway show, lots of trendy styling and dozens of participating local vendors.
There were plenty of towering heels and little black dresses in attendance at Santa Monica Place and the Third Street Promenade, and the crowd’s notion of couture ranged from retro rock to ultra-sophisticated, with a smattering of cargo shorts paired with tee shirts promoting concerts from 10 years ago.
“This once-a-year event is really great for rolling out special new trends,” said Jaymie Brooks, manager of the boutique 7 For All Mankind at Santa Monica Place.
“It brings in new customers with an eye to fall fashion," Brooks said. "We love seeing our models on the runway in our new denim and snakeskin for women.”
Whatever the style, guests were treated to instant studio-quality photos (lit to look their best), beauty lounges hosted by Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, free gifts and incentivizing store discounts, and even a fashion illustrator who would quickly interpret your wardrobe in a sketch worthy of Dolce & Gabbana’s drawing board.
Artist Simone Elum drew sitting guest Dora Christophi as an elongated version of herself, sporting polka-dotted leggings and slouching élan. When asked if she thought the sketch looked like her, Christophi answered, “Well, the ideal me!”
At Nordstom’s beauty lounge, makeup artist Vicky Lo was carefully blending foundation onto a young woman’s face whose skin didn’t look like it needed too much help.
“With someone like this, who’s in her 20s, I don’t want to go with anything too heavy,” Lo said. “Something light and fresh, like a tinted moisturizer.”
Behind Lo, a couple of models strutted on platforms, wearing some of Nordstrom’s best upcoming fall tweeds and rakish fedoras.
Several of the mall’s fashion stores participated in the evening’s festivities. 7 For All Mankind promoted “snakeskin” jeans and shirts designed by actor James Franco: a sigh-worthy soft tee featuring fuzzy Polaroid photo images presumably taken by Mr. Franco.
Juicy Couture was offering a 20 percent discount to those eying some flowered skinny jeans ($198) and a eucalyptus-colored tank ($158).
Other shops teemed with young fashionistas checking out even tinier skirts and designer shoes whose heels brought to mind the ancient Chinese custom of foot binding, so unnaturally did they distort the foot.
But, as any woman under the age of 30 there would attest, fashion is never about comfort, and some 1,500 visitors crammed into the Central Plaza to watch the runway show from all three levels of the plaza.
Los Angeles magazine’s Fashion Editor Linda Immediato set the tone with a sparkling sequined cocktail frock as she introduced the designer wear featured in the show and opening act Stefano, finalist on season 10 of “American Idol.”
The young singer crooned a few cuts from his upcoming pop CD “I’m On a Roll” and he certainly lived up to the title. Moussed hair in disarray and tenor voice flowing easily into falsetto, Stefano looked unstoppable on his route to FM radio pop stardom.
Stefano. Photo by Lookout staff.
But the audience clearly was restless for some fashion and Immediato promised that the show would feature the couture message of the moment, “This fall is about power-dressing.”
The lineup of presenters included Lorna Jane, True Religion Brand Jeans, Johnny Was, Kitson, G-Star Raw, Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, Eva Varro, White House Black Market and others.
Ensembles were geared toward fall colors of russet, smoke, burnt sienna, charcoal and crème and fabrics ran the gamut of leather, fur and silk. The look was skinny leggings, impossibly high heels and authoritative jackets.
The audience seemed enthusiastic. FIDM (the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandise) student Michelle Park “loved how they incorporated leather into the other fabrics” and felt that the accent on shoes really tied the power dressing meme together.
Kendra Tio, who is new to Santa Monica and works in marketing, summed up her impression of the evening in one word, “Sequins.”