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Los Angeles Fashion Week: Anthony Franco mines 'Scarface' and Helmut Newton for fall 2011

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With Los Angeles' assorted fashion weeks rapidly receding in the rearview mirror, there was one last show I wanted to mention: Anthony Franco's fall and winter 2011 menswear and womenswear collection, which debuted at the Craig Olsen Designs space on La Brea Boulevard on March 18.

For fall, Franco was inspired by the bad-boy style and swagger of the 1983 film "Scarface" (thankfully sparing us the outsized lapels) and the sexuality of Helmut Netwon's photography.

For men that meant sharp-looking wool-cashmere blend, tailored suits (some with vests) and knitwear pieces including chunky scarves, cardigans and a couple of pairs of what appeared to be cable knit long underwear.

The men's pieces offered some subtle references to the criminal element: layered pieces creating the illusion of a shoulder-holstered gun under a suit coat and pops of red -- in pocket squares and bold geometric patterned neckties -- bringing to mind the bloody evidence of gunplay.

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The women's side was all about the smoldering sex appeal of the gangster's gal. In fact I was hard pressed to find a piece in the collection that wouldn't have fit perfectly with the the attitude -- and figure -- of Michelle Pfieffer's memorable Elvira Hancock character from "Scarface."

Here the shade of red (for this collection Franco limited his palette to just five colors) was used to meorable effect on a strapless floor-length gown, a thigh-grazing beaded cocktail dress, and a diaphanous silk shirt dress with matching neck scarf and garters and belted with a snake-pattern belt. (If Tony Montana and Richard Branson started an airline together in the '70s, this last outfit would be exactly what I imagine the stewardesses would wear -- and I say this with great admiration because I find myself imagining this specific scenario a lot.)

Although Franco clearly loves the dress silhouette -- which for fall he lavished with embellishments like feathers and intricate beading (some pieces were so densely beaded the resulting garment looked like finely pebbled stingray skin) -- he also sent some seriously sexy menswear-inspired women's suiting down the runway. The standout was the opening look, a cream-colored, waist-hugging, cleavage-baring shawl-collared tuxedo jacket paired with flared-leg trousers.

By consciously chosing to limit his color palette, and opting to show in an intimate storefront space instead of staging a runway show, Franco underscored his considerable skill in designing for both men and women -- and served up one of my favorite Los Angeles shows of the season.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Looks from Anthony Franco's fall and winter 2011 collection. Credit: Jeff King

 
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