5 Runway Highlights from LA Fashion Week SS23
Los Angeles Fashion Week came to a close on Sunday inside a 7,000-square-foot soundstage in Hollywood, flanked by large-scale projections and drenched in the sound of tiptoeing percussion. As the last model exited the runway and the designers took a bow, guests were left to sit with the looped background of waves lapping gently on the shore and the stark nothingness of an arid desert. Soon enough, we were gestured to leave. That’s it. It’s all done — finito.
I’ll be honest; It was tough to separate with this world Demobaza — a post-apocalyptic, post-socialist Bulgarian brand helmed by duo Demo and Tono — created for its spring-summer collection, but in a way, it was also a fitting ending to the newly reimagined LA Fashion Week, which was filled with so much visual dazzle.
But first, some background: Earlier this year, LA Fashion Week was acquired by N4XT Experiences, marking a distinct shift in the way the organization has done things in the past few years. The biggest change perhaps was the location. Frequent fashion-week goers know that LA Fashion Week — or the one that Mayor Eric Garcetti declared the city’s official fashion week, anyway — and its festivities typically unfurled at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard.
This time around, the four-day extravaganza of runway shows, fireside chats, panels and parties was spread out across a handful of different venues: Citizen News, The West Hollywood and The Hangar, with the Lighthouse ArtSpace acting as its main playground. Anyone who’s ever walked through the “Immersive Van Gogh” experience knows the technical wizardry the venue is capable of — and why it made for a perfect, versatile backdrop.
More importantly, however, was the fashion. Every fashion week welcomes a new slate of fresh talent to watch. This season at LA Fashion Week, our eyes were on both homegrown and international designers. These collections gave us greater depth in understanding fashion as an art form, and excelled in marrying the event’s four pillars: fashion, beauty, technology and sustainability. Here were a few standout moments.
Photography by Manny Llanura, MFA @mstrartist
AnOnlyChild might be fairly new to the fashion scene, but its creative director and founder Maxwell Osborne isn’t. You might recognize him as the talent behind Public School, a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund–winning brand that put him in the spotlight. But that was co-created with Dao-Yi Chow, Osborne’s business partner; AnOnlyChild is, as the name implies, very much a solo endeavor. Growing up as an only child, Osborne had to adapt to creating worlds sans a live-in playmate. It’s this “make do with what you have” approach that anchors his freshly minted brand, which is made entirely out of deadstock materials.
Osborne’s Los Angeles show follows close on the heels of AnOnlyChild’s second show at New York Fashion Week, where he showcased a spectacular lineup inspired by his West Indian heritage. The show offered another look at the pieces we saw in New York, but with a few changes — not to mention, an added layer of storytelling. Those fabrics? They were sourced from Los Angeles, which is why coming here, where those materials were born, brought the collection full circle.
It worked out for fashion lovers here in Los Angeles because Osborne’s collection was a sight to see. The Lighthouse’s main space was transformed for the show. Guests sat on a hodgepodge of baroque sofas, stools and benches, and models walked on a runway made of layered Persian rugs. Titled “It’s Getting Late – The B-Sides” (Chapter 1.5), the collection featured so many memorable looks and lessons in styling: a red lace turtleneck paired with a voluminous tiered skirt, effortless silk separates, an outsize dress, and many, many more backed up by Osborne’s unmatched technical prowess.
It was a few years ago when Yoni Atias and Omer Barnea met at a party, and over a few drinks, bonded over a love for fashion. Neither of them had any design experience making garments, but both envisioned a boldly creative career in the industry. “We sort of were like, ‘Let’s meet up tomorrow morning,’” Yoni told me after the show. A loose, booze-laced promise turned real when Omer showed up at Yoni’s house the next day, a small, portable sewing machine thrown over his shoulder. Despite having vastly different backgrounds, their aesthetic was their connective glue. In 2020, Attachments was born — and this season, so was a very sophisticated collection.
Dubbed “The Worst Generation,” these looks represented what’s taken root in the latest know-it-all ne’er-do-well generation: the warp-speed ascent through careers, the need for instant gratification, the precarity of the creator economy. Kicking off the show, a cellist sat in the middle of the venue, sliding his bow against the strings of his instrument as deep, guttural notes reverberated across the space. Then, a brief pause ushered in a faster, galloping beat, and models stomped with such fury you could practically feel the hurry. But where to? Wealth? Success? Fame?
Raw, unfinished edges mirrored the impatient, coddled and narcissistic attitude of today’s cohort of youth. The traditional work suit was flipped onto its head — edges were left unfinished, sleeves were ripped, and shirts were cut up and transformed into something else. Buttons were carelessly held together by pins, barely attached. My favorites? Puffer vests, two-tone outwear, and Y-shaped puffer scarves (Y, for Yoni). “We wanted a free-flowing silhouette that can also be functional,” Omer says. “It also allows the user to get creative with it, which we like … we don’t like for the creativity to end once the garment is made.” This sort of reinvention is what gives Attachments a decidedly inspired appeal. The collection might be called the “worst” generation, but it certainly was one of the best shows I’ve seen at LA Fashion Week this season.
3. Gypsy Sport
Unlike most brands on the roster, Gypsy Sport isn’t particularly new to LA Fashion Week. In 2019, designer Rio Uribe moved back to his hometown Los Angeles from New York, with plans to show a collection here where he grew up. Of course, the pandemic stalled any plans of a runway show at the time, but two years later, Gypsy Sport was ready to take on Los Angeles. On the outdoor deck of the Petersen Museum, Uribe sent a high-voltage lineup of streetwear that embraced his Chicano heritage and a gender-fluid approach to tailoring. It was an absolute celebration — as evidenced by the cheering crowd. That same sentiment greeted him again at fashion week this year. You could feel the anticipation. Positive vibes abound.
Heads perked up when the first beat of a mesmeric looped soundtrack echoed around the space. Over and over, a disembodied voice uttered the brand’s name; Gypsy Sport, Gypsy Sport, Gypsy Sport was everywhere. The logo — a planet formed by two upside-down hats, symbolizing Gypsy Sport’s origins as a headwear brand — was splattered across the walls, on matching short-jacket sets, on sheer slips and even a bridal gown. Again, Uribe tapped into Chicano street culture in Los Angeles, pulling references from deep-rooted design codes and inspiration from gender fluidity present in Indigenous cultures. We saw Pachuco zoot suits, buttoned-down flannels, baggy shorts, as well as a make-your-own-rules blending of high and low streetwear.
Overall, the show was a little goth, a little emo, with lots of spirit, buckles, piercings (and tats!), and an abundance of plaid, which showed up as voluminous, puffy skirts, minis and shirts. It felt young, but grown-up, carefree, but with genius moments of well-thought-out, sophisticated tailoring. True to the brand’s identity, Uribe featured a diverse cast of models, proving once again the brand’s unwavering dedication to building a true community around fashion.
4. Revice Denim
Denim is everywhere — especially Los Angeles, which is widely considered a manufacturing home for the ubiquitous textile. That’s what Revice Denim founder Shai Sudry leaned on when he established the brand back in early 2016. Instead of sourcing materials from somewhere else, he focused production on his home turf, sourcing deadstock materials, selling directly to the consumer, and doing away with unnecessary marketing. Subsequently, he was able to dream up pieces that were fashion-forward while bearing a humble price tag. For his sustainability efforts and commitment to domestic production, Sudry was awarded the Moss Adams Fashion Innovator (MAFI) Award before the brand’s runway show at LA Fashion Week.
Revice Denim has always been steeped in Americana and vintage jeanswear galore, and this collection — themed after six different genres of Hollywood films — was no exception. We saw bestsellers like the “Hollywood Heartthrob” retro-inspired jumpsuit, with its signature heart-cutout back and zippered plunge neckline, rendered in a cool red. Of course, Revice wasn’t immune to today’s noughties resurgence, in which denim plays an important role. Waistlines were dropped low to gravity-defying levels, and chunky buckled belts harkened back to the era of Destiny’s Child and Paris Hilton — minus the ostentation.
Denim tops were shrunk down to Miu Miu proportions; pants featured paneled designs, cutouts and contrasting washes. I particularly loved a tie-dye look, with an asymmetrical waist that fell sensually off the hip and a matching asymmetrical crop top. But there was something amiss. I would’ve loved to have seen more amped up, creative styling. Runways are, after all, where we get the best styling education. What’s more, I also would’ve appreciated a more diverse-sized model casting. The clear win, on the other hand? Perfect tailoring of all things indigo, proving the brand knows how to do one thing better than most — and that’s damn good denim.
If my introduction didn’t make this clear enough, well, it’s worth mentioning again: Demobaza is a master at creating a world that transports. It’s a world that takes you by the collar and reels you in like a good movie; once you start, you can’t stop watching. This is exactly what happened at one of Hollywood’s soundstages, which Demobaza turned into an immersive experience: a desert planet inhabited by warriors — and finely dressed ones at that.
The soundscape bloomed, urgent like the thump of a fluttering heartbeat, as the first model cut into the scene. It seemed like the characters had jumped straight out of a post-apocalyptic film set or a galaxy far, far away. Think: dust-hued robes and sweeping hoods, fabric that trailed and danced with every imaginary, dusty breeze. As the show progressed, the sandy tones gradually darkened into inky grays and blacks — showcasing a more evening-appropriate collection.
Oftentimes, fashion crossed the line over to the fantasy realm, losing the promise of wearability. Despite Demobaza’s fantasy-like sensibility, there were some incredible, practical separates: effortless jersey dresses, pocket-festooned cargo pants and bomber jackets, with body and sleeves structured like banded armadillo shells. That’s what I loved most about Demobaza’s show: you can take a look, deconstruct it, and wear it as you please. It did what fashion shows are meant to do: inspire.