Tara Subkoff returned to the runway tonight after a five-year absence that included losing and regaining the rights to her brand name, a stint with mass brand Bebe, and a bout with a brain tumor. "[The industry] definitely feels different than when I started ten years ago," she said backstage. "It's gotten a lot more corporate." But Subkoff has changed, too. "I'm excited to do this in a way I've never done before, which is—big surprise, you guys—all about the clothes," she added.
Those clothes were shown on a grass runway with nighttime footage from the L.A. County State Fair projected onto a pair of scrims set along the path. Most could best be described as a modern vision of what a mildly eccentric fifties Hollywood starlet might wear lounging about the house: lace and chiffon tap shorts and rompers, sheer T-shirt dresses trimmed with lace ruffles, and also sheer robelike jersey and chiffon trenches. The problem was, there were few real clothes in which to actually leave the house, unless you're getting married. Subkoff explained that Imitation is now a contemporary line—thus all the cotton jersey—that she'd like to take to the masses. It's great to see her back in the fray—especially as she's reteaming with her original collaborator, Matt Damhave, who will be designing Imitation's menswear. (There was only an all-T-shirt teaser of Damhave's work tonight at the end of the show.) Still, Subkoff may have to offer a bit more substance in order to play in that highly competitive mass arena.