All The Rage

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Ed Hardy drinks the Kool-Aid -- make that energy drink

October 14, 2008 | 11:15 am

Half an hour before his “Street Fame” show at the Culver City tents, master showman Christian Audigier was backstage in a scrum of video cameras, air-kissing friends and well-wishers.Rage_hardy42

“This collection was inspired by the street, by the famous people I know –- the colors, the bling,” he told us before posing for pictures with a cadre of kids who would soon be busting serious break-dancing moves on the checkerboard runway –- and be clad from head to toe in Christian Audigier kids wear.

You see, Audigier has expanded his Ed Hardy tattoo-inspired line to include dagger-stabbed skulls, roses and leaping tiger tattoo art on kids hoodies, T-shirts and shoes. He’s also added swimwear, underwear, neck ties, faux-Ugg boots, foil-printed slip-on sneakers and even air fresheners and eau de toilette to the Ed Hardy-branded empire, and he seemed to throw it all on the catwalk in what felt like a full half-hour show (most last in the neighborhood of 10 minutes).

Audigier did seem to borrow liberally from the world of celebrity kids in tulle skirts reminiscent of  Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” video, and models in shutter shade eyeglasses a la Kanye West’s “Stronger” video. The collection itself also seemed to borrow signature riffs that seem familiar from elsewhere. Swooping white paint along the back yoke and pockets of blue jeans like Evisu’s stylized white sea gull logo, the soles of women’s high heels were covered in tattoo print designs the way Christian Louboutin’s are a signature red.

Overall it was a cacophony of color and tattoo-art designs, ankh-peace signs, crouching tigers, top-hat-wearing wolves against a backdrop of bright oranges, teal blues and mostly raw denim. Multiple embellishments, embroidery, screens and foils layered upon one another made it seem like after four years of plumbing the archives of tattoo artists Don Ed Hardy, Audigier feels constrained rather than inspired by the conceit, and sees his only option to burn through as many designs as possible as quickly as possible.Rage_hardy7003
It hardly seems possible that a master showman like Audigier -– whose stable of brands has gotten so big he recently held his own trade show in Las Vegas  and who has adorned a Culver City building near Smashbox Studios with wall-sized banners bearing his likeness -- could go off the rails in the shameless self-promotion department, but when a male model in Ed Hardy board shorts hit the catwalk cradling a 2-foot-tall can of Ed Hardy energy drink, we couldn’t help but think that even Audigier would have to admit his lifestyle branding juggernaut had jumped the runway shark.


Photos by Kirk McKoy/Los Angles Times