A Look That Could Save L.A. Fashion

The debut of two lines by Lloyd Klein brings the Fashion Week El Paseo crowd to its feet.

Gerry Maceda

“I want California to be famous for fashion,” designer Lloyd Klein said after his runway presentation last night at Fashion Week El Paseo. The show marked the L.A.-based designer’s second time showing his custom, red carpet-ready confections at the desert’s fashion week — and the debut of two lines: LKLA, Klein’s first foray into a more casual breed of ready-to-wear sportswear, and Lloyd Klein Beverly Hills, a collection of ready-to-wear formalwear.

Klein is known for his impeccably draped, expertly finished gowns that are worn by the likes of Natalie Cole, Gwen Stefani, and Glee star Naya Rivera, who sported one of his simple black column gowns at last year’s Emmys. The LKLA line of mostly black jersey and leather pieces is a major departure from his Old Hollywood aesthetic.

“I wanted to make a more sophisticated way to dress casual in L.A.,” Klein says of his the LKLA pieces, which include chunky cowl neck sweaters, asymmetrical mesh and leather blouses, and a selection of sculptural jackets with hand-applied leather details that carry the slight flavor of a more grown-up Rick Owens.

The line comes with L.A.’s, angsty cool-kid vibe — black, drapy clothes that could be paired easily with either combat boots or stilettos.

And like his gowns, simple backless jersey T-shirts and leather pants are hemmed and cut to perfection, with nary a stray thread. One architectural jersey jacket is completely covered in dozens of thin, hand-cut leather strips that are straight as a ruler. In the right light, the jersey Klein used on most pieces in the line looks like graphite-colored silk.

“I used a lot of jersey because I wanted the clothes to be easy,” Klein says. “No steaming, that was the idea. I want people to be able to travel with it.”

While designer will likely draw new fans with his edgy, leather goods — which will range from $225 to $825 when they hit select Saks Fifth Avenue and Klein’s own L.A. boutique later this summer — his ready-to-wear gowns brought last night’s crowd on their feet.

Klein is a gown man, having held the reins at famed Madame Gres in Paris at the beginning of his career. And it showed through a selection of asymmetrical, backless jersey dresses that draped and ruched in all the right places.

The matte black, highly moveable fabric lent a modern feel to glamorous, architecture-heavy silhouettes. The dresses were largely simple, letting their construction make the statement — except for one gray-beaded and sequined short-sleeve column gown that we expect to see on a red carpet in the near future with the long velvet cape worn with it.

The dresses top out at $1,200, considerably less than Klein’s usual charge for one of his couture creations (“Why shop at Zara when you can buy a Lloyd Klein?” he playfully asked).

But more than merely opening his brand to a new tax bracket of shoppers, Klein is a man on a mission to save West Coast style one pair of sneakers and skinny jeans at a time.

“L.A. can be so messy,” he says. “I wanted to add some sophistication to everyday dressing here, make lunch a prettier place.”

See LKLA in person and meet Klein during his trunk show and meet and greet Wednesday, March 21, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Big White Tent on El Paseo and Larkspur Lane. The trunk show is free and open to the public.

View Runway Show Below



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