“California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.” –Joan Didion
Beneath the palm trees, the endless stretch of cars on the 5, 10, and 405, and the constant stream of sunshine lies a land populated by many and emulated by those who do not live here. The West Coast holds a sense of vivacity, a certain charm and pace that has been admired for years. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi that conveys to others that this is truly the land of opportunity and that things are well, better here. To Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière, “there’s a certain freedom” that only California holds that “stay[s] in his dreams”.
And Southern California is quite the golden dream. In a place where winter is just a season that Southern Californians observe from afar, the Southland, (or more specifically Los Angeles), is a welcome reprieve from fashion capitals like Paris and New York who face the embittered coldness each year. The “California cool” (not cold), a subject of fads, movies, songs, and pop culture, has started to emerge and cement itself as sunny backdrop for the fashion industry. While Los Angeles has always been a player in the fashion game, just this year, Burberry, Tom Ford, and Louis Vuitton had fashion shows in the Southland (Burberry and Tom Ford in L.A. and Louis Vuitton in Palm Springs). And even European mega fashion bloggers Chiara of The Blonde Salad and Kristina of Kayture have decided to settle in Los Angeles. During the downtime between their many projects, the two are slowly starting to immerse themselves in their new home and explore the Southern California landscape and lifestyle.
With many celebrities, pop stars, and actors (our culture’s opinion leaders) being based in L.A., it only makes sense that Los Angeles is rising in influence. Coupled with these collection events, these moves only suggest that this is yet another wave of fashion’s appeal for SoCal. In fact, Tom Ford explained that his motivation for moving his Fall 2015 show to L.A. instead of staying in London was mostly promotional:
“How much global press worldwide, newspapers all over the world do you think you’re gonna get for a fashion show in London on the same, you know, day of the Oscars?”
While the interviewer asked why he had the “audacity” to present in Los Angeles, Ford (who owns a home in L.A.) was merely being ahead of the curve and appealing right away to the A-listers who are among the first to buy (and promote) his line. And as the intersection between fashion and celebrity only narrows each day, more designers should immerse themselves more in the scene where some of their most influential clients live.
And some are picking up on this cue. As a contrast the the backdrop of historic London, Burberry’s Christopher Bailey matched the English charm to the California cool in his “London in Los Angeles” show. He mentioned the appeal of L.A.,
“Los Angeles is an incredible city and is in the center of a creative explosion right now. There is an amazing and inspiring mix of people from the worlds of film, technology, music, architecture, food and culture and now fashion, all doing such interesting things there”.
However, while Bailey only echoes the sentiments of admiration for L.A., fashion’s current obsession with the Southland might only be temporary. While the SoCal culture instils a sense of freedom and a “creative explosion” that has resonated with many fashion players, a permanent move for many designers to Los Angeles might not be feasible. And if it does become a fashion capital, Los Angeles may not be of the same calibre as New York or Paris; it will always be second string to the other fashion capitals who have established houses, magazines, and agencies (and not to mention the easier public transportation) that have been around for decades.
But, only time will tell if the California cool is just a fad. While Los Angeles has so much potential as a fashion capital, it seems like California is more like a sunny and dreamy paradise for most. Scott Sternberg, former founder of Band of Outsiders, believes,
“I’m assuming L.A.’s just the latest stop on the cruise ship that is the megabrand. Next season it’ll be God knows where”.
Only time will tell if this sense of vivacity and charm will only be admired from afar.