As Gilda Radner once said, "I base my fashion taste on what doesn't itch." But nonetheless, I sacrificed a perfectly good night of TV watching to escort my 11 year old to the California College of the Arts Fashion Show last Friday, May 17, 2013.
The sold out and much touted annual event showcases the thesis collections of CCA's graduating undergraduate fashion designers. The show is juried by industry professionals and worn by runway models. And even though the designs are impressive, the show was fairly wasted on me.
I'm a continual disappointment –- not to mention an embarrassment -- to my daughter; my wardrobe consists of Keds, Levis and old hoodies. Still, in this, my first fashion show, I was certainly in awe of what other people can pull off.
What I know about the world of high fashion is pretty much based on Zoolander. When I think of risky, innovative design that pushes the envelope, I think of Carol Burnett as Scarlet O'Hara, wearing window drapes to impress Rhett Butler.
So I enlisted Sasha, a 13-year-old expert in the field, to help me assess the CCA showcase. She liked Carlsbad Oster's collection, which she assessed as "fun and young." She thought it was a very cool take on sports wear and said she would wear it. Sasha also liked Polly Lai's collection, Doll in a Bubble, noting that the name reflected the clothes well. They were delicate and light and summery and included terrific polka dot socks.
Haven, a collection from Irina Murphy, was one of Sasha's favorites. "It was dark but not sad or evil," Sasha said. I also liked this one -- as it was the least revealing, covers a lot of skin, and I could see it in my own closet. Or, as the designer put it, "humans are fragile. My garments shelter precarious beings from the outside world."
I could also see myself wearing Ann Anglim's collection, Melancholia. "Melancholia speaks of loneliness and suffering," the catalog says. "The textures remind us that hiding is a form of survival." Both Murphy and Anglim's contributions were well-suited for the middle-aged mom.
Sasha aptly pointed out which ensembles were polished and well-finished, cohesive, edgy, electric, or too "matchy." I noted that the model's postures and facial inexpressiveness evoked parodies of their occupation. Likewise, I couldn't help but be entertained by the high concepts shaping the designers' visions.
One collection is inspired by a Mexican folk tale's "most stark and painful moments and culminates in the concepts of sensuality, murderous sin, and remorse." Another, titled Derelicte, is inspired by the homeless people who make "this wonderful city so unique." One line reflects "the mythological Greek vision of a beautiful meadow in eternal summer, the land of ethereal transitions of the beloved ones of Zeus." The collection Nova is fueled by "the grace of shooting stars and contracts the universe into a flash of light, electrifying the senses as it expands the mind." (Wait, one of those was actually from Zoolander.)
Tiśina T. Parker was the recipient of 7x7 magazine's Emerging Talent Award. Her collection, 4th Dimension, uses mathematical algorithms based on geometric patterns to create dresses with cut-outs that reminded me of an Edward Scissorhands aesthetic.
CCA's 2013 Annual Fashion Show took place on May 17, 2013 at the CCA San Francisco campus. For more information about the show, visit cca.edu/fashion show.