Since I moved to LA, I have been amazed by the diversity and experimental creativity of LA designers. LA Fashion Week, the "official fashion week for the City of LA," leads the charge in bringing together a unique perspective of global designers. It's a true expression of the LA fashion vibe.
This year, LA Fashion Week (lafw.net) has included me as an official ambassador and influencer for their SS17 showing, which will be happening at the end of this month – September 29th through October 2nd, 2016 (see the schedule here). For those not attending in-person, it can be livestreamed directly from their website.
As LAFW is growing each year, I wanted to share a bit more of what it's all about. So I had a conversation with the woman who puts it all together, Landra Dulin.
What is LA Fashion Week all about?
LANDRA: Well, obviously there is our brand verbiage, which you can read on our website - but to me it's about changing the perception of LA by creating a global fashion community here. I love discovering talent - meeting cool new people and bringing them together. LA Fashion Week is a way to (hopefully) garner a little bit more credit for LA in the fashion world, other than just for our manufacturing.
What do you think the fashion world can learn from the LA fashion scene?
LANDRA: I think it could learn how to have more fun. :) The west coast has a very laid-back attitude. Sure, we wear alot of black, too - but I feel like people in LA tend to take things (and themselves) not so seriously - which I love.
Which designer presenting during LAFW do you think will inspire people?
LANDRA: This is always a hard one because I think all of them are great, and each will resonate with different people. On a grander scale than even just LA, I am honored to be bringing Bezgraniz Couture to LA via Moscow - they are truly doing a beautiful job of making stylish clothes for a huge and hardly catered-to demographic. It's beyond exciting. Samsara is starting an online and irl tour with his collection - which is going to be very cool. His collection this season is huge.
What are some of the challenges of putting a large fashion event like this together?
LANDRA: It's just a whole lot of work that most people don't see. We are a very small team and each of us wear multiple hats - which can be a blessing and a curse. It's amazing that we all work so well together and keep a tight ship for integrity purposes, but we are almost always "all hands on deck." Procuring sponsorships is important to keep costs down for our designers, and to keep our office and shows running smoothly. Communication is everything, especially when doing big things with small budgets.
What is the most exciting part of your job?
LANDRA: I just love working with the designers and models. I love watching people blow up. Sanchez-Kane is killing the game right now, tore VFiles a new one in NY. I love her, and I have seen her process, so it's fun to see her doing such huge things with such humble beginnings. Lots of heart. It's always exciting to see the transformations and growth of the people I've worked with. Never not inspired!!
What would be your ultimate goal for LAFW in the future?
LANDRA: This SS17 season marks our 3rd season, and second year as a company. I think we are always progressing. I love how curated our shows are, but I also love doing the one-off shows like the Sav Noir presentation last season, and this season's Samsara Collections presentation. When it's a single-branded event, you have way more freedom to create a unique experience. In a bigger-picture sense, I would love to have LAFW mean as much to people as NYFW has for so long. I don't feel like we are in competition with NY. I think we are very different, and that's something to embrace. I would love for the local media to be more positive and supportive, but I know that will take some time.
What are some trends you're expecting in the upcoming SS17 showing?
LANDRA: I guess to wrap it up in a nutshell, I'd say "Conscious Customizations and Collaborations." Last season was very gender-fluid. This season has a good mix as well, but I feel like there is alot of social content (and context) this season. Diversity, eco-friendly fabrics, artistic collaborations, and custom design elements in the garments themselves.
What advice would you give new designers in order to be successful?
LANDRA: Know yourself. Be bold. Be strategic. Be kind. Have a clear vision and voice, but maintain flexibility. Mistakes are ok. Dream big and work hard!
Rest in peace, Bill Cunningham. He said: "Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life." Agree?
LANDRA: Sometimes. Sometimes fashion is armor, and sometimes it is expression. Sometimes I use what I wear as a way to engage with new people. I love statement pieces because I love talking to strangers. But then again, like I said earlier - the west coast has a very laid-back attitude, and Bill Cunningham was about as New York as a man can be! :)
Beyond the seasonal runway shows, what else does LAFW have in store?
LANDRA: We are having our second edition of Reprise at the W Los Angeles with Lex and LAFW on Thursday of this week, featuring the band The Kickbacks. We're super excited to be partnered with Lex and the W. The Reprise event allows us the freedom to showcase design talent that might not be ready for the main event runway yet. We love supporting new brands and local artists, so this is really fun for us. The next one will be in December, and will be AMAZING. We have to keep it under wraps for now, but definitely stay tuned to our social media channels. We have a lot going on before the turn of the new year!
How can people not attending LAFW participate?
LANDRA: Those who can't attend the shows in person will be able to livestream all the shows via www.lafw.net. We are kicking off the season with a really special livestreamed fashion performance by Samsara, which will combine aspects of music, theatre, and fashion in a truly innovative way. The following four days of shows, from September 29th to October 2nd, will also be livestreamed.