Southern Comfort

Our west-coast connoisseur uncovers the best of L.A. Fashion Week. By Sydney Pfaff
Alright already! Enough about the cliches and predictability of Los Angeles Fashion Week. In fact, there were a number of talented designers showing off noteworthy collections, and if this ends up being the last of the city's 5-year-old event due to the mighty IMG dissolving their participation, well, it was a strong finale. Here are our picks of the almost-week's highlights…
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Suh-Tahn
Contrast was a common theme in Suh-Tahn's spring collection. Black and white, opaque mixed with transparent, and so on. Designers Shannon Nataf and Dimitry Tcharfas created an ethereal feeling within the monochromatic looks, many of which were inspired by the body and details of jellyfish. Transparent white blouses with flowing ruffles and sleeveless cowl-neck tops were paired with partially transparent, tight leggings and cuffed shorts, while the few non-monochromatic outfits incorporated chambray vests and blazers. Toward the end of the show, models worked some slightly edgier looks covered in zippers and continuing on that intriguing transparent/opaque path.
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Katy Rodriguez
After co-founding renowned vintage boutique Resurrection and dabbling in design with her business partner, Katy Rodriguez decided to set out on her own to create her eponymous collection. The line focuses heavily on dresses, many in bold geometric prints and others in solid black or white. Her cuts are pristine, as are her tailoring skills—whether it's a tight, hourglass cocktail dress or a striped A-line prairie dress, Rodriguez truly has an eye for flattering fits. Rounding out the line with colorful tunics, sleeveless vests, and cuffed pants confirmed she's capable of producing more than just pretty dresses. We'll say it: This collection could possibly fill our entire spring '09 wardrobe.
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Crispin & Basilio
Designer Donny Barrios started designing menswear before venturing into women's clothing. And we're glad he made the move. Heavy on subtle details like knots of fabric and delicate folds, his spring collection was full of luxurious silks and chiffons, and lots of gorgeous draping. Barrios created simple silhouettes in beautifully bold colors like salmon, peach, and shades of blue, and the lustrous sheen of metallic accents offered just enough L.A. glam without going overboard.

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Maxine Dillon
Although color and prints were thoughtfully applied in Maxine Dillon's spring collection, beige was the dominating force here. Standouts were single-colored looks like the cable-knit skirt with a sleeveless motorcycle jacket and safari-like shirts with short-sleeve cardigans. Dillon kept to a simple color palette of black, gray, and beige, but added pops of purple in silk dresses and tapered, printed pants when appropriate. A few looks resembling schoolboy uniforms were fun and wearable, and a couple of party dresses—particularly the black tank dress with silk accents and a full skirt—will probably make the rounds at many a Hollywood cocktail party.
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Whitley Kros
Despite the celebs in attendance, there was plenty of star quality at designers Marissa Ribisi and Sophia Coloma's spring 2009 turnout. The pair's collection was full of wearable beachwear: printed tanks, flowing silk trousers and long dresses, color-splashed short-shorts and tunics. Inspired by the romantic African travels of their fictitious muse, Whitley Kros, poet Allen Ginsberg, and the melodic sounds of Bob Dylan, the laid-back style of the collection was full of pastel plaids and bright floral prints, bohemian blouses and pajama-esque pants—West coast comfort at its best.
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Quail
One of the newest to join the list of Urban Outfitters collaborators, Quail is a quirky, feminine line for women everywhere. Founded by Michelle Nguyen Williams, the label's name came from a slang term used to describe women in the 1960s. The spring collection showcased playful pleated high-waisted shorts with ruffled blouses in vibrant tones, while the shift from leotards to graphic T-shirts to jumpers revealed the true scope of Williams' designs. Effortless, ruffle-covered pieces in sweet colors—yep, life is grand, when you're a girl.
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Secta
Tiered and tubular were common shapes in Secta's spring line-up. Nude shades made up the bulk of the collection, but belted jumpsuits and draped dresses in purple and peach mixed things up a bit. Similar to quite a few other spring collections, baggy, tapered pants in silks and flowing fabrics were paired with tanks and bandeau tops (or rather, bras). Complemented by clutches and belts made specifically for the collection by architecture student-turned-accessories designer David Galan, the femininely structured pieces well represented Secta's elegant, almost androgynous shapes that the label is fast becoming known for.
Our west-coast connoisseur uncovers the best of L.A. Fashion Week.
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