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Category: Louis Verdad

Louis Verdad returns to the runway

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Los Angeles designer Louis Verdad returned to the fashion scene on Thursday, showing on the runway for the first time in two years. The sexy tailoring that earned him a reputation with the likes of Madonna and Cate Blanchett when he first burst on the fashion scene nearly a decade ago, was back, only with a more measured touch and a more vibrant color palette.

Verdad toned down some of his signature screen siren glamour, showing feminine trouser suits and dresses that fit in with the 1950s housewife, "Mad Men" retro glam vibe that is informing fashion at large. Knits, made in collaboration with Anthropologie knitwear designer Steven Oo (whose work is also featured on Project Artisan), helped round out the collection.

My favorite look was a bubble gum-pink pantsuit. The single-button jacket was nicely tailored, with wide lapels and a sailor collar in the back, and paired with cropped pants. It seems like Verdad could find a niche with affordable suits (the ones in this collection start at $475) with special, designery details. There's not a lot of that out there.

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I also liked the scoop neck, zig-zag crochet dress with candy pink and mint green lining, which was textural and fun, the yellow awning stripe jumpsuit with palazzo pants slit high on the leg, and a ruby red jumpsuit with a plunging neckline and buckle details in back.

Not everything worked, but the stronger pieces were a potent reminder of Verdad's talent for tailoring--and how it might translate to a more mass, mainstream market. Perhaps the Limited or Banana Republic should give him a call for a collaboration.

The salon-style show at the Boa gallery in West Hollywood, which had an audience of stylists, bloggers and local media, was momentous for another reason, too. It was the first time the designer had shown under his own name since settling a 3 1/2-year battle with a former business partner out of court.

It's been a long road for Verdad, who established his label in 2002, and was "discovered" by Madonna's stylist Arianne Phillips when he showed his first runway collection at Los Angeles Fashion Week in 2003. He dressed Madonna in a cashmere suit for the 2003 MTV Music Awards (where she kissed Britney Spears on the lips), and Maria Bello in an ivory satin column gown for the Golden Globe Awards in 2004. He was introduced to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, his clothes were featured in InStyle, Harpers Bazaar and other glossy magazines, and they were sold in Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

He was the L.A. designer name on everyone's lips for a while. But, like so many talents in the fashion business, he expanded too fast, spent money foolishly, and failed to develop a strong business model. Verdad lost custody of his own name when a business partnership went south, and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2007. In the last couple of years, he's shown a handful of looks (made on a shoestring) at L.A. Fashion Week, under the name LA Louver.

Now that he's got his name back, he's committed to doing things differently.

"It was a hard collection because I had very little budget," the designer said. "I wanted to do something sexy, to be more risky with color combinations, and to bring in cleavage, a sexy front or a beautiful leg."

"This show was for me to tell the press I'm back and still alive. Celebrities will endorse my label, they always have. But growth will depend on production." 

The comeback collection was a collaboration with ProjectArtisan, a website that features the work of emerging and socially responsible designers, giving them a platform to sell to consumers who are looking to support grassroots fashion labels. The site is similar to ModaOperandi.com, in that it bucks the traditional fashion system by allowing consumers to bypass store buyers, and vote with their dollars for the next crop of designer talent. A selection of Verdad's runway looks will be available to order this spring on Project Artisan, at prices from $450.

"I’m looking for my visionary," Verdad said, referring to a partner who could be the business-savvy yin to his creative yang. "Someone who knows how to commercialize on this momentum. I need to be careful that I do the right thing. I need to think about business."

He's off to a good start.

--Booth Moore

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Photos of Louis Verdad's spring 2012 runway show. Credit: X Xanthm L-9 Media Group.

Emerging-talent incubator Gen Art halts operations

It turns out Gen Art's reunion-party reboot during Los Angeles Fashion Week in March was more of a death rattle.

Wednesday afternoon we received a mass e-mail from Ian and Stefan Gerard, the founders of  the showcase for emerging fashion designers, musicians and filmmakers, informing us, "As of today [May 5] we have halted all operations."

Rage_Gen_art A copy of the letter, in its entirety, is posted at the organization's website. The short version is that, after an 18-month struggle to stay afloat, during which there was an announced merger with and later split from Rock Media & Entertainment, the final nail in the coffin came "when a major, new, corporate partnership unexpectedly collapsed a few weeks ago."

Gen Art's co-founder and Chief Executive Ian Gerard couldn't be immediately reached for comment on the identity of the potential corporate partner.

The organization, which started in 1994, was based out of New York, with offices in Miami, San Francisco, Chicago and here in Los Angeles, and, by its own count, hosted more than 100 events a year, including film festivals, photo exhibits and parties at the Sundance Film Festival.

But the group is familiar to members of the Los Angeles fashion community as the organizer of "Fresh Faces in Fashion," one of the most reliable showcases and launchpads of local up-and-coming fashion design talent, and a group that would routinely soldier on with its scheduled events even as Los Angeles Fashion Week seemed to disintegrated around it.

For a sense of the group's influence on the local design community over the last 16 years, one need look no further than the March 16 "Alumni Reunion" celebration at the Hollywood Roosevelt's Tropicana bar that was supposed to signal Gen Art's reemergence as a solo entity. The list of featured alumni designers included Eduardo Lucero, Rami Kashou, Jared Gold, Louis Verdad, Jeffrey Sebelia and Katy Rodriguez.

-- Adam Tschorn

Past All The Rage coverage of Gen Art

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Photo: The Leyendecker collection shown as part of Gen Art's "Fresh Faces in Fashion" showcase during Los Angeles Fashion Week in October. Credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times

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

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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.

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It's October, a.ka. Los Angeles Fashion Month

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Welcome to October in Los Angeles, where the concept of fashion week as it exists in cities like Milan, Paris, New York and London has been folded, spindled and mutilated into a month-long series of fashion-themed installations, events – and even a Halloween party -- punctuated by the occasional old-school runway show. Charitable causes abound, Hollywood studios are the new tents (while we aren't exactly taking credit for it, we did suggest just that in last year's Fantasy Fashion Week story) and there's more partnering up than a '70s key party.

As in past seasons, most remain invite-only affairs geared toward the media and buyers, although a few are selling tickets to the fashion-loving public.

Among the events:


October 13-16 Downtown Los Angeles Fashion Week


None other than Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa himself has thrown his weight behind this hybrid event -- a mix of presentations, runway shows and mixers -- back for a sophomore season. This time

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around, it will include a handful of runway shows and presentations from the likes of Louis Verdad (showing his Louver Collection), Eduardo Lucero, and Oliver Tolentino, as well as a showcase of up-and-coming Israeli designers dubbed Mode Israel.
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LAFW: Louis Verdad, comeback kid

Louis_verdad L.A. is the town of second chances, and third and fourth chances too. And on Thursday night, designer Louis Verdad got another chance to face his public -- at the L.A. Fashion Week event at the Geffen Contemporary Museum in downtown. You’ll remember that in 2003 Verdad was poised to be L.A.’s next great designer, following in the footsteps of Richard Tyler and Rick Owens. Madonna was enamored with his 1940s-era, Latin-tinged old Hollywood glamour, and many other celebs were too. His runway shows were the highlight of L.A. fashion weeks — big, theatrical (sometimes too theatrical) productions, and he was on his way. But after a series of poor business decisions, Verdad’s star faded. And then, in 2007, he declared bankruptcy.

Now, he’s hoping for someone to bankroll his comeback. And judging from the small collection he showed on Thursday, he could well find that someone. His new collection is called Louver after LOUis VERdad, get it? "I have joint custody of my name. I'm not allowed to put it on the labels," he told me. And although there are no plans to produce the clothes yet, obviously Verdad would love to.

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