Seven emerging and established designers — all graduates of FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising over the past 30 years (1984-2012) — owned the night on day four of Fashion Week El Paseo. And they did their alma mater proud.
Clay Sadler, who specializes in red-carpet gowns at Nolan Miller/Mark Zunino Couture, set the bar high for the rest of the alumni, festooning the runway with ball gowns fit for the opening of any opera in the world. In addition to his eight looks — which boasted feathers, beading, glitter, satin, and paillets — the designer projected the original drawings for the gowns on the larger-than-life video screen. His final gown looked like the whipped top of a gigantic cappuccino — 200 yards of hand-cut tulle, cut in squares, with green sequins on top. Each of his gowns had a matching headpiece.
Angela Avanesyan — whose designs are in Bebe and Forever 21 — sent modern dresses down the runway. Highlights were shimmering blue skirt and top, a black-and-white combo with extreme shoulders, and a long bronze tulle gown that drew a collective gasp from the crowd.
San Diegan Paul Hernandez burst onto the runway with a new line of dresses and accessories (hats and shoes) in brilliant citrus colors — orange, yellow, emerald green, turquoise, purple, and fuchsia.
Joe Vilaiwan showed his latest collection of extreme jewelry, was inspired by "Oz the Great and Powerful." Huge crystals on necklaces and bracelets punctuated his plain black strapless column gowns. We also saw a mother of pearl jet-black flower necklace, a crystal-beaded necklace, and a giant white rose crystal necklace and earrings. More Vilaiwan jewelry will appear on Thursday evening, when Sue Wong’s collection takes the runway.
Nick Verreos, a FIDM instructor and Project Runway designer, showed the perfect collection to be worn in the evening in the Mediterranean. It featured long and short sequined dresses, as well as a lime-green gladiator dress, a gold lame long gown with front and back draping, and — his finale — a white gown with a risky-deep slip on one side.