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LAFW: Louis Verdad, comeback kid

March 21, 2009 | 11:00 am

Louis_verdad L.A. is the town of second chances, and third and fourth chances too. And on Thursday night, designer Louis Verdad got another chance to face his public -- at the L.A. Fashion Week event at the Geffen Contemporary Museum in downtown. You’ll remember that in 2003 Verdad was poised to be L.A.’s next great designer, following in the footsteps of Richard Tyler and Rick Owens. Madonna was enamored with his 1940s-era, Latin-tinged old Hollywood glamour, and many other celebs were too. His runway shows were the highlight of L.A. fashion weeks — big, theatrical (sometimes too theatrical) productions, and he was on his way. But after a series of poor business decisions, Verdad’s star faded. And then, in 2007, he declared bankruptcy.

Now, he’s hoping for someone to bankroll his comeback. And judging from the small collection he showed on Thursday, he could well find that someone. His new collection is called Louver after LOUis VERdad, get it? "I have joint custody of my name. I'm not allowed to put it on the labels," he told me. And although there are no plans to produce the clothes yet, obviously Verdad would love to.

The presentation was more low key than anything he’s done before -- an installation on mannequins — which was a good thing. And it came together very quickly. “I have no money,” Verdad said. “I just went and bought four bolts of black fabric. Four! I made 15 pieces. And that cocoon coat, I was still sewing the hem at 4 p.m. this afternoon.”

Rage_verdadIt was worth it. The cocoon coat (at left) was fantastic looking, nicely shaped with ¾ sleeves and a pleated collar laced with a silver chain. I also loved the black dress with puffed sleeves, cinched with a black lace obi belt, and the flippy, high-waist skirt worn with a dove gray, double-collar button-down shirt with contouring black insets. He even managed to make silver studs look elegant, draped across the front of a black fishtail hem gown like a beauty queen's sash. 

This collection was focused and controlled. There were hints of the 1960s and the 1980s in the styling (safety pin brooches, over-the-knee boots, etc.), but it never felt too retro. Verdad walked the line beautifully between tough and feminine, which is exactly what fall is all about.  It just goes to show that with fashion, scarcity often does lead to greatness.

--Booth Moore

To see more photos of the Louver collection, click here

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