What A Gala That Was

I couldn't help but radiantly gleam when I received an email from Carlos Reaves (this time, toiling the producer hat) cordially inviting me to The Washington Chiefs Gala Fashion Show. It was a natural reaction. Invitations that pour on my inbox are always well appreciated. According to press notes, Washington Chiefs is a youth service organization that provides support to underprivileged kids in the Washington DC metropolitan area. In their own words, they put kids first. Though it might be obvious that I come off a bit harsh at times, I still have a tender heart. So I made it my obligation to attend. Showing up is not the dilemma here, but what to wear. I was initially planning to wear vintage Cardin, but from matters out of my reach, I was not able to. Needless to say, I had to execute plan B with just a few hours shy of the event. I rushed to Georgetown to pick up a pair of pants, because the ones that are sitting on my closet were not speaking to me at the moment. When I arrived, I realized I shouldn't have worried. 

The "gala" was held in the 2nd floor at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The art-nouveau deco present all over the walls and columns, and carpeted floors gave the hotel a quaint feel, though the bathrooms' floor, if I might add, were covered in vinyl tiles with sleek detailing on the sink (I don't particularly like pee-wafting-stench type of bathrooms). Once I checked in, a lady with a clipboard unprecedentedly appeared and proceeded to walk photog Matt (who showed up earlier) and I to the reception room. The hallway that connected the reception room to the ballroom where the show would take place, was filled with vendors from assorted types pushed against the wall. The attendees were treated with hors d'oeuvre that included cheese/crackers, and a few celery and fruit options, placed in a long white table at the entrance of the room, right across was a small bar area with an amicable bartender ready to pop bottles. I, of course, stayed away from not-age-permitting beverages and poured myself a glass of punch. As I mentioned to Matt while sitting at one of the many round tables occupying virtually the entire room, this is the way the press should be treated. I'm not asking for a personal assistant, but feeding me (though I wasn't that hungry), and assigning someone as usher was a nice treat. Kudos to Carlos for that. 

In case you didn't know, Washington D.C. or many of its fashion followers have their own way of doing things. In this case, it seemed, the meaning of a "gala" was deprecated a few notches. This was my very first "gala", but I never consoled the idea of wearing a tux. In the back of my mind, something suggested it was not those type of haute events. Regardless, a tux was not in conversation (maybe when I get invited to The Met Gala someday). The perfect scenario would be: I dial Tom Ford's number and he proceeds to invite me to his studio (I would go to Dubai if I have to) to select a look from his fall collection. In the same vein, I would be as equally as content to be outfitted by Domenico Dolce/Stefano Gabbana, Mr. Armani or Stefano Pilati. Now, back to earth. I chose a white shirt vs. a tuxedo shirt from Hilfiger, the pants and coat from Zara, and vintage shoes. Once there, it didn't take long to spot a coterie in jeans or skimpy, short and tight dresses more adequate for a boite around the block. I was speechless. 

This picture, taken while waiting at the foyer to be seated, depicts a mixture of frustration, impatience, and timidness, but I waited patiently. I can't profess enough my perpetual love for this Zara military coat.

Unfortunately, the show started with a sour note. Never mind, the blindingly bright lights (my shades came in handy). The show started with deafening sounds of an anonymous DJ hidden behind a wall of navy blue curtains that divided the runway with the backstage area. Out comes local artist Ki-Mani, I wasn't sure if he was rapping or singing (at one point while I was answering an e-mail, I looked up, and he's suddenly groping a woman on the middle of the stage. Though he attempted to appear as The Adonis, he come off as The Perpetuator. He exited with his pants sagging below his butt. Now you know why people like Lil' Wayne don't get invited to fashion shows) while "models" ostentatiously walked around the rectangular-shaped runway, wearing accoutrements from Coogi (think of it as oversize sherbet-colored tees, shirts, and jumpers with sparkling details. I was confused as to why they thought their line needed to be on the runway? This is coming from someone who has been at their showrooms in New York). The tone was set for the rest of the night. The girls, or young ladies, I should say, looked pretty, but being pretty does not make you a model. I couldn't help but noticed, in some, their exaggerated strut and superfluous hand gestures and long pauses at the end of the runway. I don't know if they were trying to emulate an intoxicated Naomi Campbell or if they nursing a hurting leg, or maybe the lights affected their performance, but it all made sense when the host, who seemed to have difficulty reading her script uttered, "this is urban modeling!!!". "Urban modeling?", I pondered for a second, "Is this a new term in the fashion industry?", "Or was she referring to those models in hip-hop videos who seemed to have forgotten their clothes at home, and thought exposing themselves to goons was sexy?". I don't think baffled is the word here. I looked over at Matt, who was sitting on one end of the runway, with my mouth slightly open in complete disbelief. I signaled him not to take pictures since those shots would most likely won't end up here. It all went downhill from there.

A few looks from Tyrell Collections. Every woman (and drag queen) loves a great evening gown, but I thought Mr. Mr. Tyrell presented scantly clad models in gowns that seemed to be unfinished. Black works, but it would be nice to see him explore other colours. 

One of the few reasons that kept me on my seat was the fact that designers that I've never heard of were going to show their collections at this event. I thought they will take this opportunity to introduce their brand to a new market. As far as first impressions go, it wasn't a particularly good experience. Tyrell Collections (his last name is nowhere to be found) was intriguing, to say the least. The source of inspiration behind this dark collection was most likely Cat Woman stepping out of a strip club. He focused on eveningwear, but the gowns he presented made me wondered what type of event she was going to. Not a red carpet, for sure. Most of his designs included diaphanous chiffon panels, exposing the models legs, breast and at times their underwear, leaving not much to the imagination (I don't know any woman who would go out showing that much skin). He elevated this fetishistic obsession by adding wide leather corsets that seemed to be pulled out of an S&M shop. But why were pink embroidered rosettes cascading down the side in one of his gowns? If he attempted to juxtapose sex with the romance and delicacy of the rosettes, it didn't work. Not because some other designers have done it better in the past, but because the execution and vision were not there. LT Dickens was on the same boat. The problem here was fabrication. It was visible the materials she chose to work with were not on her favor, or maybe they were just the wrong fabrics (bingo!). A shiny taffeta pant suit just looked odd, if not revolting, and a bicolored lace gown was downright sad. If there were any signs of youthfulness was a pantsuit with a perfectly fitted, belted jacket and gathered slim pants. Not only did it looked great on the model, but you could see it work in a variety of sizes (there were other casualties that occurred on the runway, but I'm trying to stay positive). 

Meena Tharmaratnam presented an array of dresses, versatile enough for every woman in attendance. 

Meena Tharmaratnam saved the night. She owns a boutique in Bethesda, Maryland, where she carries an assorted line of womenswear from designers such as Joseph Ribkoff and Samuel Dong. I love her eye for clothes, no wonder she selected some of the best looking pieces of the night, such as a white top with an asymmetrical zipper that looked hip and modern, sexy laser-cut cocktail frocks, a variety of day dresses with exotics motifs, and a gorgeous lilac floor sweeping gown (the best of the night). Another one that stood out was Philissa Williams, the creative mind behind Thembe. It's always delightful to watch her use of draping and far-flund references, but somehow it all came together in vision. One of her best offerings was an open-neck white shift festooned with beautiful soft blue rosettes (from far away they looked like blurred blue splotches, intriguing nonetheless) and a cowl-neck navy top worn with a grey felted wool long skirt. 

I came in with an open mind, and left light-headed. It was not the event that I was expecting. I didn't stay for any type of post show festivities. But I was still inquisitive of the story behind this event. I called Carlos the day later but there was not a response. We finally talk two days later, and he provided me with some insight that I would not discuss through this medium. There were obviously, as Carlos puts it, style differences, or even better, a "tug-a-war". In the midst of the debauchery, something good happened, they raised approximately $20,000. At least the kids would be happy. 

All pictures by Matt Statler


The Nubian Ibex said...

Oh this was simply lovely. I love the fashions!

ALso sidebar, JIMMY you all out there jet setting and wining and dining but what about our kids JIMMY! They are hungry too!

**storms off**

Jimmy De La Cruz said...

You're so out of control! Thanks for the comment though.

Anonymous said...

This is amazing. Love your blog I am your newest follower:) Loving male blogs lately<3


Anonymous said...

oh nooo wrong blog (up there haha forgot to sign out that) hehe

xx muxh love

Jimmy De La Cruz said...

Thank you.

Tayo.O. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tayo.O. said...

looks like it was a great fashion show :) i love the dresses!


loveletters said...

You look good :) it's been a while since I checked you out ....nice.

Jimmy De La Cruz said...

Thank you!

Liam Osbourne said...

I just discovered your blog and i have to say its quite impressive. i like it a lot and i love your outfit (especially your jacket) in this post! keep it up mate

greetings from NYC, Liam