I’m on vacation. I may be in town today, but believe me, my brain is not here. Much like the rest of the country during these final, fleeting days of summer. I thought—rather naively, I suppose—I could take a few days off from this animosity, this rancor that confronts our city. But as I’ve discovered, LA hate never takes a vacation, my friends. This week, we had some fresh repugnance plopped into our laps—amorphous, slippery, evil, much like the breast implants that we all have installed at age 18. And just when we thought they liked us.
Title: “On the Verge | Los Angeles, Where the Wild Things Are”
Author: Aaron Gell (website, Twitter)
Publication: T Magazine
Date Published: August 20, 2013
Length: 2101 words
You might not realize it until you’re stuck in traffic on the 101, halfway through a whirlwind odyssey that spans a pop-up dance party in Westlake and a benefit in Bel-Air, all in an earnest attempt to understand Los Angeles’s emerging fashion scene, that there’s something very New York about the whole effort.
- Traffic +2
- First-sentence traffic reference bonus +2
- Does anyone really call it “Westlake?” +5
- “SOMETHING VERY NEW YORK” +20
The City That Sleeps Just Fine has undergone a style awakening.
- We see what you did there +3
A vanguard of fashion types from points east are taking the reverse trip in droves, quietly making a home (or at least a second home) in Los Angeles, joining a cadre of beloved and critically respected designers.
- Not as much for this sentence but for the entire subsequent paragraph illustrating this sentence, where the author lists 14 people who either have homes here, are thinking about getting homes here, or are “regular visitors”—regular visitors, as if we were some kind of trendy timeshare on a remote Indonesian atoll +14
Daft Punk is here.
- Bonus for putting “Get Lucky” back into my head just when I had just replaced it with “Blurred Lines” THANKS A LOT +3
“East L.A. is all French now,” marvels Natalie Portman
- Obviously we cannot award haterating points to the author for the words of Ms. Portman, but… WHAT? +2
“I had to move to New York to be taken seriously,” says Eva Chow, a former designer and social pillar on the West Coast. “There was a certain stigma when a person was working out of Los Angeles in those days.” But now, she adds, the city has “a real cool factor.”
- Again, we can’t evaluate the quotes themselves, but MAN +5
So what if Los Angeles is still better known for implants than outerwear? Or if it still hasn’t apologized for popularizing spandex, man jewelry and the Ugg boot? Never mind. Rents are cheap! The light is amazing! The beach! The mountains! The avocados!
- Implants +2
- Spandex +1
- Man jewelry (you’re welcome, by the way) +1
- Uggs +2
- The beach! +1
- The mountains! +1
- The avocados! +1
- We get it! You’re totally mocking us! +5
Nobody goes out much — if they really wanted to go out, they’d be in New York
- WE TOTALLY WOULD, YOU KNOW US SO WELL +5
This isn’t to say L.A. doesn’t have real style, which is something very different. Its signature style just happens to be a sort of antistyle. Southern California, after all, is the place that turned comfort into a spiritual doctrine, the place you went to discard your clothes and run barefoot into the surf. New York dresses up, L.A. dresses down. New York is tailored, L.A. is flowy. Its official uniform might as well be the supersoft T-shirt and jeans, followed closely by the maxi dress. Such apparel might come off as a tad low-key sashaying down a runway, but it’s a look.
- Actually, this is all to say LA doesn’t have real style +10
Even in a young city like Los Angeles
- We are sixteen going on seventeen, we know that we’re naive! +3
So great is the marketing power of modern celebrity that a Jessica Simpson, whose 2009 misadventure with a pair of high-waisted jeans still provokes gasps of horror in some circles, can helm a brand that now takes in an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue. And Kim Kardashian can go from sex-tape stardom to expanding a retail chain, a few fashion lines and a range of fragrances.
- Jessica Simpson (that’s the best you’ve got?) +2
- Kim Kardashian (yep, that’s best you’ve got) +2
It’s noteworthy that Ford wound up making his foray into another art form after becoming an Angeleno: you can do that here. It’s a more forgiving environment.
- As forgiving as a pair of high-waisted jeans +1
And the cross-pollination between the worlds of fashion, music and art shows a promiscuity that more siloed New Yorkers rarely experience, perhaps as a result of a shared outsider status that haunts anyone in L.A. who is not in movies.
- So now we’re sluts +3
- And we’re losers +3
And then there’s Tommy Perse, the legendary retail impresario behind the haute cabinet of curiosities Maxfield, who recently erected a demountable vintage Jean Prouvé house in the parking lot, just for fun.
- Because we’re SO WACKY like that, always erecting Prouvé houses in parking lots +1
- Parking lot +1
Los Angeles is still the kind of place where you can stumble on an Art Deco building on a sketchy side street — perhaps a building that once served as the headquarters of Howard Hughes and still has the walk-in safes and mysterious passageways to prove it — and open a luxury boutique
- It’s this store, which is on Romaine between Highland and La Brea, but sketchy side street sounds SO much better +2
But is the L.A. fashion scene actually having a moment, one that could allow it to compete on the international stage? Local fashionistas are loath to employ the term, perhaps because they know that moments are fleeting — yielding, in short order, to other moments — or perhaps because the land of the endless summer, lunchtime Botox and near-mandatory yoga tends to put one in the mind-set not of moments but of eternities.
- Endless summer +1
- Botox +1
- Yoga +1
After years in which the city’s style was typically represented by a starlet in terry cloth track pants and a matching hoodie clutching a Starbucks cup, Los Angeles is finally starting to be taken seriously as a design capital in its own right. Which might well be the worst thing that could happen.
- Starlet +1
- Terry cloth track pants +1
- Matching hoodie +1
- Starbucks +1
- Hater bonus for choosing a brand New Yorkers would know over the more authentic hometown company Coffee Bean +2
- I love how throughout the piece the LA look he describes is Britney Spears circa 2007 +4
It’s nearly magic hour after all, and Palm Springs is just an easy convertible ride away.
Cut to clip from Less Than Zero, and SCENE +3
TOTAL SCORE: 122
In its own perverse way, this article is actually a kind of love letter to LA, this place that no one really is ready to admit might maybe possibly someday have something going on with fashion. Yet the condescending tone, dissolving argument, and the sheer ridiculousness of the stereotypes within transform what could be a critical exploration of a changing design scene into a superficial story—like Botox injected into a desperate, withering narrative. I’d write more, but the light is so amazing right now, and I just cracked open a fresh avocado.