Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fashion in a Cathedral

First, my BSJ is sitting in a corner of my couch right waiting for me to finish the last 10 rows. Last 10! And here I am procrastinating! I can see it take shape now and can't wait till I'm done - maybe this afternoon it will be all finished. Tomorrow, blocked even!

One can only dream...

Anyway, last night, Leo and I went to the last night of L.A. Fashion Week, which was a show featuring three Filipino designers - Philip Rodriguez (Filippo of Cebu City, my hometown), Alexis (Bong) Monsanto who's L.A. based, and Furne One (Oh-ne) who dresses the uber rich of Dubai - called Passion...Revealed.

At first Leo didn't want to go - he said it just wasn't his cup of tea. So I told him that I was going to take my client with me - a client who happens to love parties and women (and boy, there'll be women there, right?)

"But people will think he's your husband if you get photographed," he blinked.

"Well, I'll send him away to meet women. After all being seen with a huge pregnant woman can cramp any single man's style," I replied.

"No," Leo said. "That can't happen. I can't let you go all alone."

And so, according to my original plan, he went along. And whether it was his cup of tea or not, he had fun. I had fun, too, of course. Nick Verreos of Project Runway was there (Leo commented that he was wearing really tight jeans that revealed his, um, package - but I reminded Leo that this was a place to be seen, so...why not? Besides, most young people there were dressed like that - which was a reminder to me that I am definitely getting old - who of us never went out to be "seen" eh?), as well as Project Smile artist Bren Bataclan whose paintings literally make one smile. I never got around to meet him because I ran into so many old friends I used to party with before I could.

Overall it was a great fun night. The first designer featured was Philip Rodriguez, whose fashion I grew up with because my mother used to visit his mother's store to have clothes made, which at that time he was managing. He's been around in the fashion world for 25 years, at which time I also developed my, um, fashion skillz (which are glaringly missing these days). Can you believe it? I actually took classes on dressmaking, beading, and tailoring (there's a suit missing a left sleeve somewhere in Manila) before I permanently moved to California! I loved his collection! I just have to deliver the little bun in the oven first and then lose like 70 pounds before I can fit into a single one!

Next was Alexis Monsanto and it was great to see an old friend model three months after her twins were born! Then came Furne One, who flew in from Dubai, Saudi Arabia to showcase his intricately beaded (and blinding) gowns. I had to remind Leo that his was a "concept" collection because he was constantly distracted by the models' white curly French style wigs and outlandish "hats" and their entire heads encased in tulle, and that while one can truly wear those beautiful gowns, that's not all Furne makes.

This was after all Leo's first fashion show.

Anyway, here's some of the highlights of the show. I didn't get to film Philip's dresses because I was too busy looking at the designs - reminds me of the judges on Project Runway, the way we all looked like we were truly judging everything that walked past us.

This brings me to a little rant, if you don't mind. Not about the show, but about the venue. First of all, I was raised Catholic but I wouldn't call myself religious about it. I'd call myself spiritual first. But this isn't about me but the location.

The location was the former St. Vibiana cathedral, a 130 year old structure said to be the oldest cathedral in L.A. This was considered the "mother church cathedral parish" of Los Angeles. After the 1994 earthquake however, the gods apparently smiled upon the Catholic diocese and gave them a reason to, instead of retrofitting this landmark, build a $45 million L.A. cathedral. They claimed that the damage from the earthquake wasn't worth repairing the cathedral, so they figured they had every right to demolish it - historic or not.

In fact, without waiting for permits, the catholic church started demolishing the site, starting with the bell tower in 1996. After a frantic campaign by preservationists, the demolition was halted and the city swapped the St. Vibiana cathedral land with one much bigger for the church to now build their "Cathedral of Angels" right by the 101 freeway - it's that beige monstrosity of a church you see when you look up instead of watching where you're going.

If I offend some people, I apologize. My idea of churches is pretty simple - I have to admit I am in love with the historic designs of cathedrals with their arches and alcoves, stained glass windows (reflecting actual natural light, not fake light because it's installed in the basement) and dark corners - the new cathedral is cold with too many sharp angles and when you go in you wonder where the hell the altar is...until you see the throne where the cardinal sits while conducting mass.

Anyway, these days, the former St. Vibiana Cathedral is simply called Vibiana and is owned by a private contractor. It is available for events like Emmy after award parties, weddings, and fashion shows. The stained glass windows and sarcophagus of St. Vibiana were moved to the new cathedral but relegated down in the basement.

Who ever heard of stained glass windows in the basement?

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