Did anyone realize Santa Monica has an airport? We didn't either. Apparently, it's been used since 1917, making it one of the oldest continually operating airports in all of the United States. Fascinating. But besides it being a quirky fun fact and a part of aviation history, the tiny single-runway hub served as the backdrop for one of Los Angeles's most eclectic events, Frieze Los Angeles.
On a dreary, overcast day, the art fair commenced in a windswept part of Santa Monica, and a line of Ubers and black cars with VIPs stretched out waiting at the entrance. From across the globe, collectors, artists, curators, and the art curious gathered in two huge tents to see what's next in the world of contemporary art and culture. An offshoot of Frieze magazine, Frieze was conceptualized as an international art fair by the title's founders, with its inaugural event taking place in London in 2003. Twenty years later, the multiday showcase is one of the premier art events of the industry, with festivals in New York, London, Los Angeles, and Seoul.
This year's Frieze fair in Los Angeles included over 120 galleries presenting their works: There was a traveling marching band with an accompanying dance line playing out "Swag Surfin" (from performance artist Autumn Breon), cutesy inflatables the size of a small building (from ceramicist Alake Shilling) and bronze tortillas in a Chevy cargo van (an exhibition from artist Ruben Ochoa). And alongside these thought-provoking and memorable moments, was some great fashion.
In loose terms, the global art fair is like the equivalent of fashion month—it's the magnet that brings a diverse force of creative minds all to one place. Though, it's less of a traveling circus than Paris, Milan, London, and New York fashion weeks and more low-key. Instead of sitting front row with a photographer waiting in the wings for a picture, at Frieze, celebrities walk around in hats and sunglasses trying to avoid them. But from the artists to the collectors and educators that attend Frieze, there's still a sense that the same people who love art also take fashion very seriously.
Buzzing around Barker Hangar, we shuffled from exhibition to exhibition to scout all of the great style on the scene. A number of big seasonal trends were spotted in the crowd, but they came with a side of eccentricity, which was a friendly reminder that art people prefer to do things a bit differently. For a bleak day, the fashion surely turned up the heat—keep scrolling to see the best style moments at Frieze Los Angeles.
Where does one get a half-blazer, half–bomber jacket? Visual artist Liz Lee sourced her unconventional topper from a theatre-department sale at CalArts, where she's also an MFA student. "I got this for like a $1," she recalls. "The program has students creating costumes for student contemporary dance shows and plays, so you get these bizarre Skims-like bodysuits and cool period pieces." The underrated beauty of a dual or two-faced jacket like this is it can theoretically function in both casual and buttoned-up situations, but for Frieze, Lee wore it with baggy jeans from brand 69 and cool wraparound shades.
Red hosiery has long dominated among the trends Who What Wear editors love, but it may be time to give another color a try. We later learned from art executive Zina Reed that this sculptural dress was from none other than Zara. (We could've sworn it would be archival Nina Ricci or something.) The pairing of equally bold grape-purple tights really elevates this to high-fashion territory, so we just had to document the entire 'fit.
A cloud of expertly constructed fabric, Cecilie Bahnsen dresses are so instantly recognizable that one can spot them a mile away. So it didn't surprise us once Frieze co-curator Sonya Tamaddon revealed that her cobalt-blue frock was a creation from her "dear friend" Bahnsen. "I only wear ruffles when it's Cecilie. She makes it feel like armor," she says. To add more drama, the curator incorporated three more major runway trends—sheer tights, big earrings, and ballet flats.
We caught this art educator at the tail end of Frieze day one just as the sun was beginning to set and the crowd trickled out of the fairgrounds. It was the earrings and headband that immediately stuck out, a reminder that good accessories will always spark conversation (and compliments).
If relaxed is the keyword for the Californian dress code, then double denim is the Los Angeles equivalent of a suit. Adrianna Bach, a model based in New York City, wore a dark-wash Slvrlake denim set with Celine sunglasses and a Bottega Veneta Mini Jodie bag. "I've worn this set for seven days in a row," she proclaims.
Long Taoran, an art collector, traveled from Beijing to attend Frieze. While she scouts art from around the world for collection, her visit to the fair marks her first time in L.A. The collector leaned on laid-back staples—New Balance sneakers, Margiela side-slit jeans, and a blazer and bag from Lemaire. "You need to be comfortable to walk around the whole day," says Long. "I love really unique things."
On the other side of the trending coin, art people just like to dress for themselves, regardless of what's "in." Case in point, Claude d'Avoine, creative director and Frieze London head of design. For a day of browsing through exhibits with fashion publicist Bradley Jacobs, d'Avoine wore custom-made floral pants from a local designer with vintage accessories.
A more surprising observation of the day: Artsy people love cowboy hats. One of the most marvelous hats we encountered belonged to visual artist Arielle Pytka. In custom-made python pants and stacks of statement silver rings (pieces she's accumulated over the years), Pytka's outfit stood out among the sea of The Row separates and Gucci loafers. "I ride horses a lot, and my dad lived in Santa Fe for many years, so I was exposed to a lot of Western culture," she says. Along with a Rick Owens sweater and a big-buckle belt gifted by a friend, the artist completed her outfit with special cowboy boots from Pskaufman. "He's a local designer in L.A., and he hand-makes all of his boots. They're incredible," she adds.
More Cool Looks From Frieze Los Angeles:
Photo:Jacqueline Lee for Who What Wear; WHO: Bradley Jacobs