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Elmer Ave Stays the (Punk Rock) Course for Spring 2010

October 19, 2009 | 11:31 am


Elmer Ave's Spring 2010 runway show started out dramatically enough. A pair of models dressed in sexy, punky '40s USO get-ups climbed a tower of scaffolding ascending from behind an elevated catwalk erected inside downtown Los Angeles' cavernous Bank Building. Once they reached a sky-high platform, the dueling models stared haughtily into the crowd for a few moments, then positioned themselves behind twin DJ decks, sending a wall of droning industrial rock over the black-and-leather-clad audience.

But the theatrical prelude proved to be one of the few surprising elements at the L.A. brand's "secret" show on Saturday night (invitations went out only days before the event, with details of where and when the show would be released only upon RSVP.)

When models started strutting down the runway -- showing off scores of rocker-inspired separates for guys and girls -- it became apparent that the brand's designers, Jonny Day, Collin Pulsipher, Ward Robinson and Sean Murphy, would be staying firmly in the punk-rock pocket they've carved out for themselves since launching as a suit-maker for the flamboyant rocker set in 2002.

Blazers silk-screened with stars, fitted vests, tuxedo pants, military trousers with suspenders, knee-high Doc Martens -- we've seen it all before, and from the Elmer boys. Even the exposed nipples (on guys and girls) and "Velvet Goldmine" make-up felt familiar.

It all felt like a missed opportunity -- especially when the collective's combat-rock style seems so ripe for mutation. Designers such as Ann Demeulemeester and (locally) Endovanera regularly mine similar countercultures but manage to surprise us with something new most seasons. How many times can we get excited over military pants stuffed into boots?

There were -- as ever at Elmer Ave shows -- a handful of stand-out pieces. A classic men's black wool overcoat felt very cool and Franz Kafka, while a steam punk-ish women's vest with pleated tails was charmingly riddled with old timey hardware (was that a monocle in her waistcoat pocket or were my eyes deceiving me?)

But ultimately, the collection left us pining for something you can't drape on a (deathly pale) model -- change.

-- Emili Vesilind

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