Leslie D. Weinberg for LAFashionweek.com – Rose La Grua and Victor Wilde

October 30, 2013

Day 2 LAFC Runway shows – Two Designers with Two Radical Perspectives

Rose A

Rose La Grua won the LA Fashion Council’s ‘Open Runway’ Competition for most promising emerging Los Angeles designer which earned her prominent spot in this year’s Grove show Oct. 10th.

Rule the Runway she did with her collection and show, That’s Totally Fine, which featured artistic whimsical designs and her ‘Totally Fine’ hand carved wooden platform shoes which stole the show.

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The shoes or spaceships, as they appeared from the front row, had the models teetering down the runway and guests teetering on the edge of their seats hoping the models didn’t fall down – which fortunately they didn’t -  but we were all holding our breath not only hoping they wouldn’t fall but for how stunningly original it all was.

Rose B

Runway shows come and go but nobody will forget those one one-of-a-kind shoes each hand crafted with only six pairs in existence. According to their creator Rose La Grua, “They are inspired by a combination of traditional Chinese rice-paddy shoes and 90′s river platforms. I had the idea for them as far back as my Senior Thesis collection but didn’t have the time or the resources to bring them to life until now.  Six weeks before the Los Angeles Fashion Council’s Open Runway Finals it suddenly occurred to me that they had to be made for the show.  I got in touch with my good friend Frances Kao, who studied furniture design at RISD, and commissioned her expertise on the matter of their creation.  Between my design work and her understanding of materials and process we were able to put together some really amazing shoes for the show within a very limited time-frame!”

Did I mention the Rose went to RISD, graduating only two years ago?  The school with a decidedly fine art orientation turns out designers with a scholarly and modern art gallery perspective.  “RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) was founded in the Bauhaus tradition where craft and art are synonymous so there was a very strong emphasis on construction techniques combined with artistic sensibility.  The faculty pushed us to create garments that were beautifully made and tapped into our personal understandings about life and culture rather than trend.

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“At school I had a lot of lofty ideas about wearable art.  I spent a semester making a full body spandex onesies that featured a hump back and cone head paired with velvet shorts, heavily decorated with beads, vintage toys, crucifixes and other thrift shop finds.  I’m still not really sure what that piece was all about but it helped me to realize that the things I was making had no home.  They didn’t work on the runway and although they were theatrical they weren’t suitable for film or the stage as they had no inherent purpose or characterization.  Perhaps they could have worked in a gallery installation setting but I couldn’t see how that would be a fiscally responsible approach to fashion.  Since then I’ve worked towards making garments that can be legitimately worn and enjoyed by real people and are infused with a hint of this high-art ideal,” said Rose La Grua.  I would expect to see much more in the future from this the nubian designer.

In her short ascent in the L.A. Fashion world over the past two years, Rose did internships and took freelance pattern jobs with local designers including one unconventional designer of, The Bohemian Society, which also graced the catwalk on Day 2 of the LAFC at The Grove.

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Designer Rose La Grua


Victor Wilde’s Bohemian Society journey into fashion was through film which he studied at North Carolina School of the Arts. That’s when he became obsessed by costume design of his films creating worlds of the character through costumes.  He was also a character in his own fantasy world as a silver statue street performer which he says led him into serious performance art in places like The Standard where he did installations inside a glass box in the lobby designing off the wall costumes for his performances. Inside the box was where it hit him to do clothing outside the box.

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Although Victor Wild’s runway show was reminiscent of practical clothing people would wear after the apocalypse, he claims that The bohemian society is not just clothing label – it is a lifestyle. “We are a society within society that does not necessarily hold the same values that ‘normal’ society does.

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His latest collection is inspired by his own personal philosophy which he encapsulates as

O.W.N.- Own Won Now. Victor Wilde sums his philosophy up like this, “Live for the moment. forget winning, you’ve won!”

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Bohemian Society designer Victor Wilde

- Story and Photos by: Leslie D. Weinberg


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