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Sep 28

Haute couture on the Central Coast

New fashion documentary showcases Central Coast style

"Haute Couture: A Fashoin Documentary" chronicles six weeks of Central Coast style.

Mention the words “Central Coast style,” and you’re likely to picture sun-kissed college coeds in tank tops, board shorts and flip flaps.

It’s a casual, comfortable aesthetic that evokes lazy days spent lounging on the beach or beside the pool. Blond-streaked hair is a must. Giant sunglasses are de rigueur.

At night, however, the city’s fashion-conscious clubgoers trade that casual look for dramatic makeup, mini-dresses and four-inch heels.

“It’s a community that loves to put on lipstick and high heels and dresses and go out,” Johnny Kenny said. (Although the gals go glam, he added, most guys stick to their usual uniform of jeans and T-shirts.)

Central Coast fashionistas are the focus of “Haute Couture: A Fashion Documentary,” a new short film that premieres Wednesday in San Luis Obispo.

Directed by Robin Chilton of Peregrine Media Group and Two Trips Motion Pictures, “Haute Couture” centers on Central Coast Fashion Week, a six-week series of fashion shows and soirees launched in 2008.

This spring’s event featured four local designers – Francisco Castro, Kristina Michelle, Nancy Westerfield and Kate White – as well as Hawaiian swimwear designer Elena Merritt of BoomBoom Bikini and hiphop group LMFAO’s Party Rock clothing line.

Kenny, the film’s producer, said the filmmakers focused on up-and-coming designers with fresh new looks.

Take Westerfield, a spunky 19-year-old who recycles Goodwill finds into retro-style cocktail dresses. She joined Central Coast Fashion Week after auditioning (unsuccessfully) to be a model, then spent sleepless nights downing Red Bull energy drinks and 5-Hour Energy shots in order to finish her dresses in time for the show.

“Her work is amazing,” Kenny said of the “very vintage” Westerfield. “She really will be something special in the fashion world.”

Kenny also heaped praise on Castro and Michelle, two Cuesta College standouts, and White, a buyer for Central Coast Surfboards whose clothes are “far from surf.”

“We really wanted to showcase who these designers are, what their struggles are,” the producer said. “To see these kids come together and almost be a family, it’s really moving.”

In addition to interviews with designers, models and producers, “Haute Couture” features backstage and runway footage shot this May and June at Native Lounge in downtown San Luis Obispo.

“Robin captured every aspect, from the (model) casting leading up to the shows,” Kenny said, plus a post-show shoot at Old Mission Cemetery, Prefumo Canyon and other spots.

The result, he said, is a 20-minute movie that showcases San Luis Obispo at its most fashion-forward. “It’s a piece that’s really going to showcase this town,” Kenny said.

Kenny and their fellow filmmakers plan to show “Haute Couture” on the festival circuit before shooting a full-scale, feature-length documentary at next year’s Central Coast Fashion Week.

That event will feature about a dozen shows at the all-ages Avila Beach Golf Resort, showcasing six designers from across the United States.

“As much as we want the local people to come out and view this, we’ like to have (fashion professionals),” Kenny said, such as bloggers, buyers and boutique owners. “We have something special here.”

Watch “Haute Couture: A Fashion Documentary” at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday at The Palm Theatre, 817 Palm St. in San Luis Obispo.

Although all three film screenings are free, moviegoers must RSVP by contacting Johnny Kenny at 503-0288 or johnnykenny@gmail.com.

***

In other film news:

A class about the humble origins of Hollywood’s greatest movie moguls continues Friday at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library.

Cuesta College film historian Phil May will take participants behind the scenes at the film industry’s most famous studios, including MGM, Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros. Using documentaries, movies and more, he’ll show how these colorful, often contrary, personalities formed the studio system and shaped the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The free series kicked off Sept. 24. It will run for eight consecutive Friday evenings.

Classes start at 5:30 pm in the library’s community room, 995 Palm St. in San Luis Obispo, and will last about two hours. Water and snacks are available free of charge.

For more information, call Steve Kinsey at 781-1215.

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2 comments

  1. Pat

    Can I wear my flip flops and board shorts to this?

  2. teresa

    is this documentary for sale or available on netflix?

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