City of Angels inspires Jacob's Wild West look

April 01, 1992|By Valli Herman | Valli Herman,Los Angeles Daily News

When Marc Jacobs comes to Los Angeles, he sees Hollywood glamour, good taste in the bad and inspiration in the things residents take for granted.

Mr. Jacobs, the designer for Perry Ellis -- a collection of designer womenswear sold in better department stores -- has a strong Wild West feeling, with all manner of cowboy fringe, trims and bandanna prints.

There are outfits named for the flowing chiffon skirts called the Malibu Cowgirl; the Rodeo (Drive) Dress with Western piping; and a dress fabric that borrows the palm frond print of the Beverly Hills Hotel's wallpaper. He also pays homage to the diverse cultures of Los Angeles, with an East Los Angeles group that uses Mexican serape stripes, and the leather jeans and bandannas of lowriders.

"It was just sort of irreverent, which is what L.A. is," said Mr. Jacobs, in Los Angeles last week to preview his line for a show benefiting the American Foundation for AIDS Research,

sponsored by I. Magnin and L.A. Style magazine.

Not everything has such a direct interpretation.

"There are things that are L.A.-ish in terms of how they are put together -- a chiffon skirt, tank top, cowboy boots and jean jacket. That, to me, is very much what reflects the sensibility of what the young girls wear there that I like so much," Mr. Jacobs said.

Even if Los Angeles does not figure into future collections, Mr. Jacobs said he believes the city deserves better than its second-class fashion status.

"I think the sort of snobby fashion world says people are so tacky in L.A. They wear cowboy boots with chiffon and rhinestones during the day. What is happening in fashion right now is anything that was chic is now passe.

"The idea of having a perfect Armani suit may be in good taste, but it is not a change in fashion," Mr. Jacobs said. "In fact, it is hipper and more fashionable to wear white cowboy boots with a chiffon skirt."

Mr. Jacobs noted that he has plenty of company among designers blending themes from the American West with just about everything else.

"A lot of people in a lot of places are taking references from things that are not what your mother always told you was chic and proper," Mr. Jacobs said.

He noted the collections of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Gianni Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, and Richard Tyler of Los Angeles as examples of the eclectic mix.

Mr. Jacobs plans to return to Los Angeles just to soak up atmosphere and hang out at a few of his favorite places such as the Hollywood Canteen.

But he's not ready to move his operation from New York to the shores of Venice, or anywhere else in Los Angeles.

"If I moved here, I think that would kill it. For me, it's just a fantasy."

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