Zebras, antelope, and catwalks: amidst taxidermy wildlife in the African Hall, models prowled down a snowy AstroTurf runway at the California Academy of Sciences’ Fashion Forward Nightlife. An intermittent lion soundtrack roared as the doors opened for the 2nd annual show, unleashing a buzzing, cocktail-swilling crowd into the room. Eager to glimpse the latest collections from local designers, the audience packed the space from wall to wall and lay in wait as a succession of bold San Francisco style soon hit the stage.
Sara Shepherd began the night with an array of slim-fit models exuding polish and panache. A subtle edge of color-blocking and a coolness ruled the collection, transitioning starkly into Ken Chen’s dark, sultry coats and gowns with geometric detailing. Daniel Chimowitz crafted painterly punk jackets and dresses with layers of color and pattern, forming an aesthetic all his own. To contrast Chimowitz’ fresh, free spirit, Lan Jaenicke brought a tailored, business vibe to the runway with menswear-inspired garments and classic coats. For the penultimate designer’s collection, Camelia Skikos unleashed a whirlwind of neon modernity with a slew of structured and loose garments that sparked the audience’s attention, revving them up for the grand finale.
Lucien Shapiro’s hodgepodge masks criticizing consumer culture wrapped up the show, questioning contemporary notions of identity and turning brand loyalty on its head. In a final act of defiance, an antlered mask with burning tea lights was sent down the stage against security’s wishes, dripping wax dangerously close to audience members’ legs and singing the Astroturf in its wake. The intense tension of Shapiro’s final look erupted throughout the crowd in applause, sending attendees into the evening with swimming minds and stylish thoughts.