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Alternative Apparel debut grabs the spotlight at L.A. fashion week's three-ring circus

March 23, 2010 |  1:06 pm

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Los Angeles label Alternative Apparel staged its first-ever runway show on Monday night at its new downtown Fashion District headquarters and showroom space on Spring Street, and the choice of a vintage circus motif to present its fall/winter 2010 "The Show Must Go On" collection couldn't have been a more appropriate theme for the chaotic big top atmosphere of Los Angeles Fashion Week.

Four blocks south of the maiden voyage of last-minute fashion week Concept  -- which boasted a colorful audience of its own (attendees at one show included a ghostly bleach blonde sporting a garish toy version of a Native American war bonnet, a camouflage-clad faux flower child and what may have been the world's oldest living Mohawk hairstyle framed by the glare of male pattern baldness) -- the familiar faces of fashion weeks past including Smashbox Studio's Davis Factor, Cameron Silver, Michael Baruch, and the ever--present and snapping Cobra Snake, mingled with Hollywood starlets like Lilly Collins and Nikki Reed.

Throw in People's Revolution's Kelly "Kell on Earth" Cutrone and crew pulling the strings for the run of show, and Brent Bolthouse spinning in the DJ booth post-show (until The Walkmen took the stage) for Rage_alternative1 production value and star power alone it easily stole the spotlight away from the other rings of the three-ring fashion week circus - popcorn and caramel apples on the house, naturally. (And that was even before we'd seen the pack of wolf-hat plushie urban woodsman and the gal in the tank-top/tulle skirt outfit)

Alternative's show also reaffirmed the value of staging an old-school fashion show -- both to communicate the theme and vision of a brand, but also to get it out there in a way trade shows and showroom appointments don't. I'd long since mentally relegated to thinking of Alternative Apparel as not much more than the fashion T-shirts founder and chief creative officer Greg Alterman started the label with in 1995.

There were T-shirts a-plenty to be sure, including thermal crewnecks, heather gray racerbacks, and spaghetti-strap tanks, but there were also tweed newsboy caps, bowler hats, black floral print dresses, sleeveless cardigans, rumpled henleys, satin tap pants, overalls, wool pinstripe trousers and several styles of leggings -- including the traditional thermal texture and the aforementioned black florals (apparently this collection marked the brand's first foray into prints).

There were also a couple of collaborations with designers Richard Chai (a pink silk/Modal top) and Jeremy Scott (a black scoop-neck body suit and black T-neck dress worn by the bowler-hatted beauties who opened and closed the show).

Backstage, an ebulliant Alterman told me he'd decided to show during L.A. Fashion Week as a way of both celebrating the new space and the collection, which he called "American-work-wear inspired -- but with a Japanese twist."

"We've been here a couple of months, we've got our name up on the building and we wanted to put our own spin on" fashion week, he said.

And, as The Walkmen started their set, and the wolfpack started wilding on the dance floor, fueled by passed trays of mini pigs-in-a-blankets and free-flowing tequila shots. anyone soaking up the scene would be hard pressed to disagree that Alternative had done just that.

Mission accomplished.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Looks from Alternative Apparel's fall/winter 2010 collection, shown Monday at the label's new 833 South Spring St. headquarters and showroom. It marked the first-ever runway show for the 15-year-old brand. Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times.

More coverage of Los Angeles Fashion Week

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