Heidi Klum, canary in the Fashion Week coal mine
One of the challenges of going to runway shows and presentations off the "official" Fashion Week calendar -- no matter how loosely scheduled it may seem -- is that there will inevitably be a situation in which one feels the need to be in two places at the same time. That was the situation we found ourselves in last night, nervously checking our watches and cooling our heels in David Arquette and Courtney Cox's Beverly Hills backyard waiting to catch a glimpse of Propr, a new menswear line by David Arquette, musician Ben Harper and David Bedwell.
It was scheduled to show at 8 p.m., precisely the same time Christian Audigier's show was supposed to drop at Smashbox Studios nearly seven L.A. surface-street miles due south. Our original plan was to linger at the Arquette manse (apparently open for a quasi-public event like this for the first time ever) no later than 7:30. Then, among the celebrity scrum that included (in no particular order) Jamie Lee Curtis, David Spade, Garry Shandling, Cindy Crawford, Rande Gerber, Rosanna Arquette, Laura Dern and Jennifer Aniston, we spotted supermodel/"Project Runway" host Heidi Klum.
Klum, you see, happened to be one of the bold-faced names included on the celeb-obsessed Audigier's front-row press alert, and we knew there was no way in Hades the show would start without the leggy German model in the house. As long as she was tromping through the same yard as we were, we wouldn't miss a beat.
At about 7:53 p.m., with the Propr show yet to start, we caught Klum and company angling for the exit, so we headed for the valet parking line, where before she stepped into her chauffeured car, graciously offered to give us a lift to the tents -- an offer we were compelled to decline (less out of journalistic integrity than in concern for our car which appeared to be lost in valet limbo).
We sped down the hill, rolling up to the tents at approximately 8:21 p.m. and into our seats about five minutes later where we could see Klum across the sod-covered runway in a halo of flashbulbs.
When the show (dubbed "America Lord" and showcasing his eponymous crest-encrusted line rather than the Ed Hardy line he showed two nights earlier) got underway a few minutes later, it was classic Audigier showmanship -- opened by break-dancing British Beefeaters and black-leather-clad cheerleaders backed by a live band fronted by former Eurythmic Dave Stewart, followed by a platoon of punk and plaid pieces in every possible permutation; leggings, suit jackets, feather pied-piper hats, essentially a grab-bag of well-worn street influences that mined several decades and two continents; a snatch of Johnny Rotten here, a soupcon of Comme des Garcons seasons past there, smothered in a whole lot of red and black plaid scarves and skirts.
We thought Audigier had topped out in the self-aggrandizement department with the black and white punky designs on jacket backs that spelled out "American Lord" (though as far as we know, the Frenchman is neither) under a photo of him. Until he came to take a final bow. As Dave Stewart and company started singing a version of the Chapman/Knight tune "Best," as Audigier strolled down the runway and planted a big kiss on Heidi Klum.
Wait, I guess he already has ....
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos from top: Heidi Klum in the front row at Christian Audigier's "American Lord" show on Oct. 15, by Jesse Grant / Getty Images for IMG; A women's look from the Christian Audigier Spring 2009 collection, by Chris Pizzello / Associated Press; A men's look from the same show, by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for IMG; Detail of jacket-back design featuring a picture of the designer and the words "American Lord," by Adam Tschorn.