California doesn’t follow trends — it sets them — and the opening night of El Paseo Jewelers Fashion Week El Paseo “unzips” the diverse collections of three Golden State designers whose unique aesthetics represent the quintessential California lifestyle. Each maintains a distinctive interpretation of what it means to be a West Coast fashionista, from powerful gala wear meant for sashaying down a red carpet or catwalk to easy yet elegant ensembles designed for the avid traveler to poppy dresses and separates for those who dress with attitude. Tonight, we introduce a few of our favorite tastemakers.
saturday, March 16
Presented by Stacy Bartlett Renshaw and benefiting Junior League of Palm Springs Desert Communities and Make-a-Wish Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Cocktail reception and book signing with Ari Seth Cohen
$95 Reserved ; $80 General; $35 Student
For tickets, visit fashionweekelpaseo.com
Sunday, March 17
California Unzipped Trunk Show
Located in the Reception Tent
at Fashion Week El Paseo.
10:30 a.m.–2 p.m.
Emil Gampe, Roger Canamar, and Zandra Rhodes present their collections for purchase.
Los Angeles designer Emil Gampe defines his client as a star who seamlessly balances beauty and power and never blends into the crowd. His first gown to grace the red carpet was worn by Kristen Wiig during the 2010 Emmys, and Gampe has dressed many celebrities since. For his current “Limelight” collection — his most ambitious yet, he says — Gampe was inspired by the golden age of stage performances, before movie theaters and televisions rose in popularity. “I channeled how it must have felt to be an audience member at a time when women onstage were the big stars of their generation,” he explains. “How important it was for them to have a unique style, being praised and adored.” Both timeless and avant-garde, his creations are individualistic, and they’re made for the catwalk: “In the past, I focused on editorial,” Gampe says. “But pictures of gowns do not show their movement. Their energy is best displayed on the runway.”
One of Roger Canamar’s first designs was a shift dress made from men’s suiting. “The fabric doesn’t wrinkle and travels well,” says the Orange County–based designer, who describes his client as a jet-setting socialite who loves to “dress”; her clothing reflects her bold confidence and must accommodate effortless travel. Inspired by the Maldives in the early 1980s, Canamar’s current collection is “very ethereal” — a few structured pieces but mostly statement ensembles in flowing silk gazar, organza, or chiffon. “The lines are classic but have a modern edge,” he says. Ivories and camels mimic the seascape and play well with pops of fuchsia and cobalt blue. Among his monochromatic designs are whimsical “watercolor painting effects” and abstract “Picasso-esque” prints.
In Britain in the mid-1960s, Zandra Rhodes’ motifs were so daring that she couldn’t get anyone to produce them. So she started making her own textiles. Her colorful, playful aesthetic would soon make her one of the most sought-after designers in the world, with fans including Helen Mirren, Bianca Jagger, and Freddie Mercury. (“I only realized how fabulous that pleated outfit was after I saw the photo of [Mercury] that was printed later.”) Rhodes travels from her San Diego studio to share her latest collection —
pleating, frills, and eye-catching metallics in the form of chiffon dresses, blouses, trousers, and butterfly prints. “My clothes are made for a woman who loves dressing up but isn’t uptight about it,” Rhodes says. With vibrant pink hair as her most recognizable accessory, the designer fits that description perfectly.