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Animal attraction carries the day on the Otis runway

May 5, 2009 |  2:00 pm


Despite raising close to a million dollars, the Otis College of Art and Design's 27th annual scholarship and benefit show Saturday night was not without its sad moments.

Looming large over the International Ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel was the legacy of Dick Baker, longtime Otis mentor and former president of surf brand OP, who passed away last month, his absence all the more notable because the evening's two honorees -- Hurley label founder Bob Hurley and PacSun CEO Sally Frame Kasaks -- both hail from the action sports segment of the business Baker was so much a part of (in fact, Baker had been scheduled to present Kasaks with her Otis Creative Vision award).

OtisTodd3sm For a split second after a moment of silence in Baker's honor, it seemed as if all the air had been sucked out of the room -- after all, who feels like having a party when one of the big kahunas has caught his final wave? But then the fashion show started, and I can't remember the last time I've been as thoroughly entertained.

This year, junior and senior fashion design students worked with mentors that   included Max Azria for BCBG MAXAZRIA, Mark Badgley and James Mischka, Scott Sternberg for Band of Outsiders, David Meister, Monique Lhuiller and Ed Hardy Swimwear (proving that the classroom, not the wine rack at Whole Foods, was the most recent tattooed territory to bear the unmistakRage_otis2able designs of the Ed Hardy branding juggernaut). 

The highlight of the evening came from the students mentored by Todd Oldham, who had directed them to: "Use animal-like textures, colors and graphics to create sportswear for the entire family -- a salute to, and a celebration of, the animal kingdom."

Not only were the clothes a stylish cacophony of color and fabrication, the background barnyard of dancers -- models clad in suspenders, bowties and animal masks -- were the mood-boosting lightheartedness the night needed.

From where I was sitting I could see a rooster -- doing the chicken dance, naturally -- as well as a cow, a bunny, a bear and a duckling of sorts. Glaringly absent was a farm staple, the pig.

Swine flu, maybe?

-- Adam Tschorn

Photos (from top): Designs by junior class students Carina Bilz, Pam Yang and Anthony Garcia. Credit: Volker Corell, courtesy of Otis.

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Fashion Forward: Otis College students take their designs to the runway