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Petro Zillia hosts runway show with Smoke & Mirrors and Karen Zambos Vintage Couture

October 21, 2009 |  4:45 pm

Petro1 "The traditional runway show isn't very current," said Emily Brandle, co-designer of L.A. brand Smoke & Mirrors and an alumna of "Project Runway." "You see things coming down the runway and think, 'That's amazing, but I can't have it for six months.' "

Brandle -- along with her business partner Michelle Chaplin and fellow L.A. designers Nony Tochterman of Petro Zillia and Karen Zambos of Karen Zambos Vintage Couture -- turned the idea of a traditional runway show (which shows collections months before they hit the stores), on its ear last night.

The designing women staged a group runway show, dubbed "Here and Now," at the Petro Zillia store, with models dressed in current-season looks from all three brands (mixed with jewelry by Noir and shoes by Sigerson Morrison.)

The resulting ensembles were the picture of present-day L.A. style -- full of the kind of contemporary pieces hip gals around town are wearing right now. Among the stand-outs were kicky printed mini-skirts, louche jumpsuits, roomy tank dresses, flowing tunics tops, flirty dresses (worn with chunky-knit cardigans) and a sharp sequined, wear-with-anything blazer.

"Everything you see on the models is styled the way we would wear it," said Brandle, "and it's all for sale in the store. Doesn't that make sense?"

Models walked a taped-off runway that circled the store before posing fiercely on a stoop leading out to the boutique's grassy outdoor area, where guests -- a largely female group -- were perched on white folding chairs.

The friendly, shopping-driven event had me wishing more L.A. designers would jump on the idea of showing "immediates" in a no-frills store setting. Not only was it a good time, but if you're not going to get heavyweights from Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York coming to your show, why not set it up to make a few bucks?

-- Emili Vesilind

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