Michael Costello, desert fashion experts rock the Vegas runway
In dramatic fashion, Michael Costello’s model hit the runway in a shimmery floor-length dress as an animated live band played the notorious riffs of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
Each step the model took on the catwalk seemed in sync with the music, deftly showcasing the marriage of rock and fashion.
Celeb designer Costello, Astrella Celeste from Palm Springs — better known simply as Astrella — and Claudia Lua Alvarado of Indio all contributed to Monday’s rocking runway show that was a collision of art, music and fashion.
A couple hundred people sat in couches surrounding the Foxtail pool at the SLS Las Vegas hotel and crowded the stage sides as the iconic Stratosphere towered in the distance. The runway show coincided with MAGIC, a global fashion tradeshow that originated in Palm Springs in the 1940s.
“It was nice … to see some of the models react to that music. Because normally it’s a DJ and it’s very predictable and I think this was a little more emotional and I like that,” said Astrella, who showcased her Musical Ts line at the show.
The audience couldn’t help but dance in their spots and nod their heads to the music as the rotating all-star band continued to cover well-known and iconic songs, making the evening feel more like a rock concert.
“Because we come from music, we can pull a few favors from our friends,” said Astrella, the daughter of English folk singer and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall-of-Famer Donovan.
The performing musicians included Bob Forrest of Thelonious Monster, Stevie D and Kelly LeMieux, both of Buckcherry, Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction and Amp Fiddler of Parliament. All were friends of Astrella and her husband Jason Rothberg.
They all support her Musical Ts line, which in turn supports the music industry, she said. Each of her T-shirts, which feature the graphic designs of artist album covers, come with a scannable code that allows the purchaser to download the entire album of the featured artist — only once, though.
At the Monday show, she featured her summer line of shirts featuring Elton John, Queen, The Who, Slightly Stoopid, Spencer Davis and The Vandals.
In the early 1940s, in addition to attracting the Hollywood elite, Palm Springs played host to the country’s largest annual fashion trade show — The Menswear Manufacturers Association of Los Angeles.
The annual event was considered such a boon for the city that it spawned the construction of a “giant amphitheater” west of the Las Palmas area to host related fashion shows and events which coincided with Western Week.
“I think when buyers go up to market or to a trade show, it’s always nice to have an enticing place to go. In the 1940s and ‘50s, this was where all the celebrities went,” said Susan Stein, a Rancho Mirage fashion expert and runway show producer who also worked Monday’s show in Vegas.
The trade show eventually outgrew Palm Springs, then Los Angeles, and is now held in Las Vegas.
Lance Bass, of N’Sync fame and a Musical Ts wearer, served as MC and kicked off the fashion show on stage alongside his husband Michael Turchin and pop artist Miguel Paredes, both of whom had art work of album covers on display.
Stein lent her runway production expertise for the Las Vegas show. Stein also worked with Astrella in March for Fashion Week El Paseo, held annually in Palm Desert.
“I am very happy. And I have to say I feel good,” Astrella said about the overall show. She said she learned a lot from the other designers, specifically how the structure of a runway show works and preparing the order of looks for the show.
“I think that’s probably, deep down, one of the reasons why I wanted to share in this experience, because I have a lot to learn and I did learn a lot tonight,” she said.
“It was a little scary, a little stressful, but I learned a lot and I feel honored that I got to learn that from designers I have admiration for.”
In addition to Costello and Lua, the other designers who participated in the show include: Band of Gypsies, Romeo + Juliet Couture, Bella Dahl, D.J. Ashba and Dr. Martens.
Costello, a seasoned designer who gained fame on “Project Runway” and got his start in Palm Springs by opening up a boutique downtown when he was 15, showcased his Nirvana collection — a series of his favorite show-stopping silhouettes.
For Lua, who recently launched her line of one-of-a-kind, special occasion dresses after 14 years of designing for corporate companies such as Forever 21, the fashion show was “a dream come true.”
She showcased 12 looks that included evening and cocktail dresses and “mother/daughter” outfits.
Lua had her own cheering section at the show. In addition to her family, a few members of the Fashion Group Foundation of Palm Springs traveled to Las Vegas to provide support and see Lua’s first major fashion show, featuring her own label.
Diana Strickland of Indio, a member of the local fashion group, loved how Lua’s looks were different than most of the other collections that veered more toward rock ‘n’ roll.
“I had to see Claudia. I felt like her showing really softened the whole thing. It was sweet and really soft and pretty and really glamorous clothing,” she said.
Lua was able to sneak out during her show to take a peek as her fashions walked the runway to Kemo the Blaxican’s Latin style of hip hop.
“I feel so happy and thankful that everything turned out really well,” Lua said. “It was so cool because it was a different kind of set-up. Not your traditional set-up. It was live music, rock ‘n’ roll, rap, Spanish, it was a mix of everything and I loved it,” she said.
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