Concept Los Angeles' one-day slate of runway shows and informal presentations at Mack Sennett Studios in Silver Lake served up designers from across town, across California and across the globe.
But the one thing they had in common was an admiration for L.A. as a global style mecca, from the skateboard culture that inspired local designer (and Concept organizer) Mike Vensel’s grungy nod to his ’80s and ’90s youth to the Hollywood red carpet that is the holy grail for Turkish designer Özgür Masur, who is already well known for dressing film and TV stars in his intricately beaded gowns in his home country of Turkey and now hopes to make it here.
Masur was one of several haute carpetbaggers showcased at Concept, his presence the result of a new effort to showcase Turkish designers called Istanbul Designers, spearheaded by Turkish actress Fadik Atasoy (who in typical L.A. fashion made the Concept connection through Vensel, who lives in the same apartment building).
"I always wear his dresses," Atasoy said from the front row before Masur's U.S. debut, "I have been for years." Atasoy said she'd first met Masur when he was just starting his career. "I helped lift him out of obscurity," she said, "he's very well-known in Turkey now," she said. "And I said to him: 'Now it's time for you to come to L.A.'"
Masur's gowns — draped goddess styles with cowl backs or fronts, scarf-like details, illusion mesh and intricate beading climbing over a shoulder or down a sleeve — were beautifully made and sophisticated enough for an A-lister.
Hailing from not quite so far away was another Concept highlight: Camelia Skikos, a Romanian from the Bay Area who launched her own fashion label after a stint as head of customization at Levi’s. Her electric-hued, graphic mini-dresses, asymmetrical tops and pants were inspired by a San Francisco street map.
Emily Daccarett, from Madera, Calif., showed a collection of sexy ’60s looks inspired by B-movie sirens. (Think “Barbarella”-like mini-dresses, swingy tops and hot pants in velvet, chiffon and tartan.)
Vensel, who lives in Santa Monica, titled his collection “Nothing,” though it was hardly that. He showed 22 looks that included wrap dresses and drapey skirts, vests and capes in soft plaid flannels, denim and twill, which had a certain grunge girl glam.
Although it's now the longest-running of the remaining Los Angeles Fashion Week events, Concept still has kinks to work out -- though in all honesty they mostly have to do with delayed start times and the flow of foot traffic through the venue.
But when it comes to showcasing new and lesser-known designers, Vensel and company seem to be clear on the concept.