Fashion: If every Los Angeles fashion designer had the eye for beauty and the talent for creating perfectly tailored pieces that Kevan Hall has, this town would be the Paris of America. Sadly, that is not the case; but happily, Hall proved once again that he is the master on Monday afternoon at his runway show during the Spring 2008 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week extravaganza going on at Smashbox Studios in Culver City.
The theme was "Africa: A Safari,", as Hall (who is an African-American originally from Detroit) looks "to my personal roots" and takes inspiration from "Dinka, Maasai, and Zulu tribes to the antelopes and zebras" that roam that vast continent. Hall even went so far as to use fabrics, beading, and jewelry designed and created by artisans in Africa, including mud cloth and painted twill. From the first look, a "Nomadic fitted sheath" in tones of brown, white, and tan to the last, a white strapless wedding dress adorned with a colorful ceremonial Maasai wedding neckpiece, the designer successfully evoked the feel of Africa while staying as sophisticated as he has always been.
Gasps of wonder and applause met many of his dresses as the models emerged onto the runway of the packed Main Tent. Some, like the elegant Serengeti silk printed bustier gown and the shorter sheath in the same pattern, evoked the sun rising over the desert in shimmering shades of cream, brown, and rust, while others, like the multi-colored tribal embroidered dress, gave off an easy, more casual yet chic vibe. Other daywear looks featured a strikingly bold black-and-white zebra print on a "dashiki" (long tunic), studded with glittery crystals and worn over slim white silk pants; and a slightly deconstructed tan raw silk jacket worn over matching walking shorts and oversize hat.
But Hall's trademark is eveningwear, and his Spring 2008 collection of gowns did not disappoint, as he continued to mine his extremely flattering silhouettes - think bustier, halter, or crisscross straps up top, snug waists, and long, flowing bottoms - changed up with a touch of Africa. One stunner was the Nebele painted bustier gown, a fabric created by artist Sharon Fauvel, gorgeous blocks of yellow, green, blue, and red worn with a stack of brightly-patterned tribal bracelets. Another great look: Hall's leopard-patterned silk gown with a plunging neckline, adorned with an elaborately beaded waist.
For the less adventurous of his fans, Hall made sure to present some more sedate looks, including a black silk chiffon gown with sheer bell sleeves, a knee-length white cocktail dress with high neck and silver grommets at neck and hem; and a golden silk/cotton gown with a long train.
It's no wonder that Kevan Hall's show drew more famous faces than any other so far at L. A. Fashion Week; people like Shari Belafonte, Jennifer Beals, Eric La Salle, Nia Long, LeVar Burton, James Pickens, Jr., Cuttino Mobley, and Rebecca De Mornay all know that he's the Angeleno designer who knows just how to make women look amazing.
"I thought his show was unbelievably beautiful," De Mornay commented as the show closed to a standing ovation. "He did a wonderful job of combining the African motifs with extremely elegant designs. I've been impressed with Kevan's clothes in the past, and now even more so."
By Jenny Peters
Courtesy Fashion Wire Daily