L.A. Fashion Week's most dedicated follower
Among the chaotic crowd of L.A. Fashion Week revelers who run around air kissing, swigging free booze and rummaging under seats for unclaimed gift bags, is an out-of-place-looking little man who sits quietly through every show during the week.
He may not fit in, but he certainly knows more about clothing and construction than some of the designers showing on the runway. Nondas Keramitsis spent 36 years as the head tailor to James Galanos and now he faithfully attends the shows at Smashbox because he likes to see the clothes.
The 84-year-old moved to Los Angeles from his native Greece to make women’s clothing. He had heard about Galanos, who is of Greek descent, through relatives and soon started working with him in his Los Angeles studio.
Back in those days, Keramitsis and a crew of about 22 tailors he oversaw made everything by hand, a method that he wishes more designers today would incorporate into their clothing.
“I don’t like modern clothes,” says Keramitsis with a heavy Greek accent. “Designers are not interested in the quality of the clothes. It’s not the same.”
He worked on many of Galanos’ famous creations, including coats for Nancy Regan. “I would study the sketches of Galanos for three or four days and then start to drape in muslin.” Says Keramitsis, “Fabric houses in England, Paris and Italy would make the best textiles especially for Galanos. Today there is no such fabric. Everything is plain and flat.”
The shows at L.A. Fashion Week are a far cry from the Galanos gowns he knows, but he just loves seeing the silhouettes go down the runway. He has been at every show since Sunday, and this is his third year attending the event at Smashbox. Keramitsis does not have an invitation to any of the shows, but he manages to make his way into each venue, often finding a seat near or in the front row. His interest and passion for clothing rivals that of a young fashion school student sneaking into the tents at Bryant Park in New York hoping to catch a glimpse of the event they hope to someday be a part of.
It's refreshing to see a loyal show attendee who is after something other than a couple of free Peronis or a chance to be on a cable-access channel no one has ever heard of. Keramitsis genuinely enjoys the shows and appreciates fashion, though he does have his reservations. “I like the idea (of L.A. Fashion Week), but it could better, of course.” Amen.
-- Melissa Magsaysay
Photo: Nondas Keramitsis among the L.A. Fashion Week crowd. Credit: Melissa Magsaysay / Los Angeles Times