LA’s fashion week is sort of the neglected stepchild of the fashion industry. New York and Milan hold the attention of the fashion editors worldwide, while Los Angeles becomes an optional visit. However, Louis Verdad has been steadily rising in the media spotlight ever since the world saw Madonna in his clothing during her infamous lip-smack with Britney at the 2003 MTV VMA awards. This year’s fall 2005 show was one of only two during all of fashion week attended by feared, career-making-or-breaking Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue.
Louis Verdad’s Fall 2005 line is inspired by the Mexican painter Frieda Kahlo’s paintings and unique sense of style. The models strut in elaborate flower-bedecked coifs that are familiar to anyone who’s seen Kahlo’s self-portraits. He pairs a sleek, taupe, pin-striped suit with a ruched gold top. Louis Verdad’s fall color scheme is decidedly edible. Berry and plum pants, shirts and jackets float down the runway on the bodies of haughty models with elaborate hairstyles. Burgundy leather, in the form of jackets and belts, creates a dramatic accent point against a chocolate colored jacket. And just in case you’re thirsty, cool turquoise and sapphire shirts and suits call to mind the most perfect of waters. For evening wear, while his chocolate holds its place, there is no doubt that black is back.
The silhouette is classic Verdad: a very curvy line as seen through menswear inspired clothing. Most of the tailored suits run down the catwalk are paired with ultra-feminine blouses. Many of his skirts carried his characteristic knee-length mermaid cut. Trust me when I say that those skirts could make a stick figure look like J. Lo. As with this summer’s styles, the cinched waist is still in evidence. His models paraded down the runway in a variety of wide leather belts. Blouse tops were given a waist by way of ribbon ties. Jackets are nipped at the waist and shrunken. As always, there is a very forties feel to the lines, with slightly padded shoulder and flared hems. His clothes always have a feature or an aspect that moves, whether it’s a subtle flounce at the bottom of a jacket or the billowing fabric of evening slacks.
Leather is a popular accessory material here, ranging from handbags to gloves to belts, but usually with a twist: alligator print, a clever buckle or the occasional line of studs. Purses were also larger, bringing back a more practical size than the itsy-bitsy pocketbooks of the past. The jewelry in this show is (as you might expect from a show inspired by Frieda Kahlo) chunky and colorful; opaque stones such as turquoise took the spotlight.
There is joy and there is sadness in loving an up and coming designer. You get the thrill of stepping outside the pack, being ahead of the game. You also get the agony of trying to find some place where you can actually buy the clothes you’ve drooled over for hours on the Internet. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything … much.) I’ve seen a few of his clothes at Neiman Marcus, but not with any regularity. If you happen to live in Los Angeles, you can find him hanging on the walls at Beige (7274 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036). For the rest of us, www.shoplastyle.com carries some good pieces; check out the stuff from previous seasons, which you can sometimes get on sale. If you’re desperate, just check around your local fashion boutiques (caveat: probably you only want to do this if you actually live in a large city.)
I found Louis Verdad in Houston at a tiny store called Flounce (1621 Westheimer Houston, TX 77006). If all else fails, you can at least join me in watching the runway show of clothes I can’t find anywhere over and over in some sort of masochistic cycle at www.mbfashionweek.com/fall2005/home.html.