From the debut collection of Uriel Saenz to the worldly sophistication of Sue Wong, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Culver City is proving to be a hodge-podge of different styles and influences. Designers looked to the past, the present and even the future for inspiration. Seasoned veteran Sue Wong presented a nearly 70-piece collection, with international vintage glamour as her theme. Inspiration came from Shanghai in the 1930’s, Paris and Hollywood in the 1920’s, pre-war Berlin, timeless Cairo and New York’s Jazz Age.If the devil is in the details, then Sue Wong is the devil incarnate because piece after piece of her couture collection was flawless, beautiful almost beyond words and, unlike other designers, wearable for real women. The sumptuous fabrics included silk, tulle, velvet, antique lace, intricate beadwork and embroidered designs. Dramatic hats, perhaps a bit over the top for most occasions, were fashioned from chopsticks and little Chinese lanterns. Her models jauntily walked down the runway, smiling and blowing kisses, a much-needed relief from the many vacuous stares many designers prefer.At the other end of the spectrum, there was Los Angeles designer Uriel Saenz presenting his first collection. The theme of his designs was “The New LA.” Say Saenz, “The Fall ’06 Collection was inspired by the revamp of downtown LA, creating new looks that combine the past, present and future for a more sophisticated atmosphere in the new LA.” Like Sue Wong, Uriel Saenz’s collection is something that regular women with regular bodies can wear. The black and gray pieces felt futuristic while other outfits had a Mondrian feel to them. The clothes were ladylike with a bit of street-hip at the same time. A pillbox hat with lace was a nice nod to the past, and the wool-gabardine fabric used in several outfits felt at home in this decade, past decades and decades yet to come. Uriel Saenz has a vision, and it will be interesting to watch him explore that vision during future fashion weeks.
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