The Fall 2012 Orange County Fashion Showcase culminated in a grand finale at the Rooftop of the Westin Hotel at South Coast Plaza on Sunday night. The glamorous venue brought together fabulous designers and merchants to fundraise for scholarships for creative arts students through the Orange County Fashion Trade Association.
The first show of the evening was “Hodges Collection” by the OC Fashion Showcase’s founder, Deanna Hodges, who has been designing for over 20 years. The barefoot models, wearing a variety of dresses, long skirts, and flared-bottom pants, could be easily imagined taking a walk on a sunny Malibu beach, and with a simple change of footwear or the addition of a glitzy necklace, could go right into a dinner scene in Santa Monica. The models were accessorized by KD Luxe Jewelry, a merchant at the Showcase. The California-cool vibe of Hodges Collection is based on the designer’s preference for “comfort.” Some of the more dramatic dress styles, in striking red or crisp white, with plunging necklines, were very bold, showing variation in the collection. While she “doesn’t like prints,” she likes to “play around with dyes…that are more upscale or classy.” She explains that with prints, “you have to invest in so much of the same print fabric…[and] it instantly becomes dated… [and] last season.”
Her insight into the need for looks that can go from day-to-night is, as she puts it, because “people are just busy people; we don’t really have a lot of time.” With her pieces “you can throw them on in the morning, and you run out of time, and then you’re meeting some friends for lunch, and next thing you know, [you can] change it up and go to dinner.” All of her fabrics are cut, sewn, and dyed locally in Los Angeles and Orange County, and are available domestically as well as in Canada, Japan and Austria.
Next up was Zerrin Akinci, who won for “Outstanding Emerging Designer” of the event. The Cypress-born designer describes her style as “Ethnic Modernity,” or “the integration of ethnicity in the east with the modernity in the west.” Indeed, her dress collection was very elegant and sophisticated, but still unexpected and fresh, as she says “you’ll see the little details in my style.” These elements of surprise, or “little details” were evident in one of her first looks, a neutral-colored dress accentuated with a half-sleeve and a teal panel, and the back adorned with “buttons” that were teal sparkly gems. She demonstrates a very deliberate construction and exquisite tailoring, but plays with unexpected length, such as a lower hem in the back and higher in the front, surprising colored side panels, as well as using a variety of shapes in the dress straps. Her use of color is not really color-“blocking” because it is more subtle, like thin panels. The colors chosen for the panels were fun–teal, neon orange, even lace overlay–while the main fabric was more neutral with shades of olive green, cream, and gray. The tailoring of her dresses was first-rate, or as she puts it, “fitted as the skin.”
An empowering women’s collection was put on display by designer Sabrina Barnett, who focused on glammed-out t-shirts with profound messages of love and positivity. The Sabrina Barnett Collection is part of the designer’s socially-conscious philosophy that “fashion needs to have a message.” Sparkling tees with messages such as “Let Love Shine,” “Live Your Smile”, “I am Worthy,” and “I admire kind people,” are just a few of the multitude of powerful messages she was sending in a casual way. The designer supports many charitable causes with the proceeds from her lines, which can be found online, and at boutiques in the US and internationally.
Alicia Hardesty, a contestant on the most recent 10th season of Project Runway, showed her collection and proved why she says she is “the best thing to hit women’s wear since Chanel wore pants.” Indeed, Hardesty’s designs for her clothing company “Original Tomboy” which she has described as “not too masculine or not too girly” can be styled by the individual wearer to express their unique style, having a broad appeal that is still ultimately original. Her style sensibility is clearly informed by her upbringing in Kentucky, and her designs, which she describes as “fashionably tomboyish;” are comfortable, in that you can do anything in the them, yet with a style and fit that is decidedly modern. The silhouette and fit of her bottoms are her signature, as well as her affection for suspenders which can be functional and fun, and harken back to her experience in men’s wear. Her designs feature both denim and knits, and are made in the US, which she says is part of being “socially conscious” as a “person…[and] specifically picking out pieces that are very cool, and wearing them proudly,” and knowing where they come from. Her online boutique will open soon–in time for the holidays–and she is also looking at West Coast boutiques as well as those in her home state to feature her popular designs.
A special presentation by acclaimed denim designer Mychael Darwin was put to music and featured a dancer, because, he says, “I love music and I love presentation…All I can say is that I was inspired to do it.” Darwin has several denim lines for the “premium denim enthusiast,”
and is hailed by some as “the world’s best-made custom jeans” designer. His work has made “denim acceptable for evening,” and his Bespoke Denim line features sterling silver and platinum hardware, custom woven-fabric, special finishing, and a special softener, among other luxuries. He will debut the “Art of Denim” in Spring 2013, a denim collection that does not exceed $90 a pair, as he makes a bold statement on the average price associated with a victim of human trafficking, a cause Darwin is committed to combating.
The event’s final show was a highly theatrical collection by Dubai designer Dar Sara. Exaggerated shoulders, almost like wings, were incorporated into the dresses, with a plethora of beading, sequins and sparkle. Nearly every shade and color was used in the luxurious collection of party dresses galore.
Photography By Scott Naide