For the Boys

Photo By Gerry Maceda

Anthony Franco — the headliner Friday night at Fashion Week El Paseo — is a man who wears many hats. You may have seen his styling on the small screen, where he put Kate Bosworth in sweet, cotton sundresses and straw hats for a Cotton Inc. commercial. Or you may have seen the peppy, ’50s-style menswear he put on Outkast’s Big Boi and Andre 3000 in their “Roses” video. But on Saturday night, the stylist/costumer played the part of tried-and-true fashion designer, showing 98 current- and past-season looks for men and women to a nearly sold-out crowd at the Big White Tent at El Paseo and Larkspur Lane in Palm Desert.

The massive show opened with garden party-worthy wares including a pastel blue sleeveless cocktail dress, light pink tailored men’s suits, and a lavender trench coat that fit into spring’s Easter egg color palette.

For men, a selection of light gray and pastel jackets paired with matching shorts were a dapper, dressy take on a daytime outfit. And, as one watcher proclaimed, “What I want my boyfriend to wear to a polo match.”

Also exciting in the men’s camp was a small selection of knits, including a burnt orange and brown sweater that had a so-retro-it’s-modern feel.

But Franco’s socialite-appropriate gowns stole the show. A backless, purple sequin spaghetti-strap dress swept the floor and many viewers’ breath away. While a black, floor-length number channeled a 2012 version of a 1920s screen star with its plunging V, beaded skirt, and leather midriff.

Franco is a designer who mixes textures, fabrics, accessories, and prints. So we greatly appreciated his simple but strong red and black satin gowns that showed off his construction and draping. Other standout ladies’ pieces included an awe-inspiring, beige butterfly-sleeve beaded gown and a simple, ivory satin backless wedding dress.

But fans of his womenswear — which include Selena Gomez and singer Colbie Caillat — may be disappointed to know that Franco is ready to turn his focus toward the boys.

“I really want to move forward with men’s and start getting it placed in stores,” he says of his made-to-measure menswear line, which he launched in 2007 after spending four years styling and designing for Outkast. “I love showing both men’s and women’s together; it belongs together. But men’s is the direction I want my business to go.”

Ironically, the most novel menswear seen on last night’s runway was actually made for a woman. Franco created a slew of Spanish bullfighting suits to accompany a short film directed by his photographer boyfriend, which played in the background during the show’s last few minutes.

“There’s something so beautiful and elegant about bullfighting,” he says of the Flamenco-themed vignette. “The romancing of the bull feels like the birth of something. And in this case it was, it’s a story about a birth of a collection.”



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