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Fashionable funding: Emerging L.A. designers get a $10,000 city grant

October 6, 2009 |  7:05 pm

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A who's who of the Los Angeles fashion community (designers Louis Verdad, Randolph Duke, Max Azria, Nick Verreos, Yotam Solomon and Five Four Clothing's Dee Murthy and Andres Izquieta among them), congregated in the lobby of the California Market Center this morning to hear Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reiterate his intention to burnish the city's fashion bona fides, and learn which three fledgling labels would receive the first Fashion Angel emerging designer awards.

Fernando Carneiro, 29; Phong Hong, 31; and the design duo of Krysta Henry, 25, and Jacquetta O'Dell, 27 (whose line is called Krys-N-Jack), got the thumbs up -- which means they will be part of a runway show that kicks off Downtown Los Angeles Fashion Week (DLAFW).

After the announcement, I spoke with Olga Garay, general manager of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs, who said that although the organization annually bestows $10,000 grants in 15 different arts disciplines, this was the first time fashion was in the mix."We feel fashion design is one of the arts and it should be represented," Garay said. "And the mayor is determined to bring fashion downtown."

DLAFW1 The money won't go directly to the designers; it will be used to cover the cost of staging a Oct. 13 runway show at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA that will showcase looks from each label. (CPA firm Moss Adams is also kicking in $1,500 worth of accounting services to each.)

The biggest surprise of the morning came in the mayor's introductory remarks when he described Los Angeles Fashion Week as running from Oct. 12 -- a designer meet-and-greet that's part of the DLAFW calendar -- through Oct. 31, the last night of newcomer Rock Fashion Week L.A.'s inaugural event at Paramount Studios. 

"I'm also happy to welcome Rock Fashion Week, which promises to be one of the more unique fashion events," he told audience members, who took so long to start their round of courtesy applause it seemed as if it might not come at all. If they were like me, they must have been wondering why hizzoner would so warmly welcome what many might consider a carpetbagging competing event that crowds an already crammed calendar.

DLAFW3 After the event, I put that question to the mayor. His response: "I think a rising tide raises all ships. I like the idea that they're doing an event that showcases fashion and music, and it's one that makes use of the sound stages that are part of what this city has to offer."

I asked Villaraigosa if, now that he's officially entered the fashion fray, he might be able to play peacemaker and broker some sort of ceasefire in the calendar-clogging fashion week turf war.

"I'm in the business of ceasefires," he said with a smile.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Winners of the inaugural Fashion Angel emerging designers award are, from top: designers Jacquetta O'Dell, left, and Krysta Henry, flanking Morgan Chelf, who models one of their "more conceptual" Krys-N-Jack pieces; Fernanda Carneiro, with model Dallas Hernandez; and Phong Hong, with model Lauren Anthony. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times.

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