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Catherine Malandrino: Where Fashion Fears to Tread

Malandrino and Tyler

Catherine Malandrino with a lightly dressed Aisha Tyler.Photo: WireImage

We found it deliciously evil that Catherine Malandrino scheduled her fall-winter 2007 at the Chelsea Art Museum to coincide with “Dangerous Beauty,” an exhibit that forces visitors to walk across a floor of bathroom scales. The very idea that a bunch of fashionistas, bundled up in an extra ten pounds of outerwear no less, might be required to traipse across a gigantic Floor of Judgment in order to see Malandrino’s show thoroughly tantalized us. The prospect had absolutely nothing to do with our decision to wear fewer layers today. Nothing at all.

Sadly, it was not to be. The scales were nowhere to be seen; Malandrino’s claws are not as sharp as we thought, and we could’ve worn that extra sweater after all, dammit. Aisha Tyler showed up weigh-in ready however, dressed in as few things of actual heft as possible: a tiny beige slip dress and a tissue-thin cardigan for “warmth.” When asked by a reporter about her relative lack of clothing, Tyler giggled, brandished her porous sweater, and then conceded she was prepared to suffer for the sake of beauty. Too bad for her that the dress was so snug across her sternum that it shoved her apparently braless breasts down near the bottom of her ribcage. Still, the statuesque former Ghost Whisperer actress is far prettier in person than in photographs, and holy God, she is a statuesque skyscraper even in a room full of models. We’re proud of her for being a tall girl who’s not afraid to add three-inch heels to the mix.

Tim Gunn risked the scales to support Malandrino, who was a guest judge in the third season of Project Runway when the contestants traveled to Paris for a couture challenge. Patricia Field and Finola Hughes blew off the show, so soap star Leven Rambin snagged their seats for her joined-at-the-hip pals, Kristian Laliberte and Bridget Helene. Now, Los Angeles doesn’t have a society scene quite like New York’s, so we’re new to the whole Spot the Social Climber thing. But after two seasons of seeing this trio together, we figured two-thirds of it consisted of very desperate hangers-on trying to ride Leven’s 17-year-old coattails. That may still be true, but nevertheless, Google and Socialite Rank informed us that her man pal Kristian is a “social coordinator/men’s buyer” and her gal pal Bridget is an attempted socialite whom Leven introduced to a Daily reporter as her stylist. Since Bridget was wearing a royal-blue strapless prom dress with a ruffled butt-pouf roughly the size of Alaska, now we know why Rambin’s outfits often frighten us. During the show, Leven snapped pictures of her favorite looks with a digital camera while her “stylist” took notes with the wand of her lip gloss. No, really. She went there. We’re not sure if that’s brilliant, a total waste of good cosmetics, or just kind of icky and unsanitary.

But the queen of the day was Arden Wohl, whose nutbar wardrobe was both entertaining and the unwitting provider of an interesting tableau of contrasts. Directly on her right was Beth Ostrosky, blonde and deeply burnished in a chic, cleavage-baring black dress with gold-rimmed circular cutouts, cheerful and friendly to all the reporters and seemingly just thrilled to be there. By comparison, Wohl arrived in the most insane outfit we’ve seen in the front row this year: bright purple tights, lavender ankle socks, brown granny shoes, ratty and soiled white-leather fingerless gloves, a dark mini, a gray-green top, and a dusty pink chiffon scarf tied around her head, as if she were trying to snag a date to the prom with the Karate Kid. We understand she loves her head adornments, but this ensemble was kooky. Remember when you were 5 and you begged your mother to let you dress yourself for school, and when she finally said yes, she had to sit back and watch while you went off on the bus wearing a fairy-princess costume, tights, half of your pajamas, a Paddington Bear hat, and Wellingtons? Well, that appears to be Arden’s style philosophy. And she’s not even timely with it; in many ways, Mary-Kate Olsen already did that whole nonsense in 2005.

At any rate, it’s too bad Wohl decided to put on dark tortoiseshell sunglasses halfway through the show, and sadder still that she developed separation anxiety from her cell phone. She might’ve done well to stop texting people and pay closer attention to Malandrino’s sexy dresses and coats. Because we might (might) be able to tolerate her headgear on account of her monogamous passion for it, if the rest of her weren’t dressed like a fourth-grade ballet troupe’s jumble sale. —The Fug Girls

Watch a slideshow of the Catherine Malandrino collection.
Watch video of the Catherine Malandrino show.

Catherine Malandrino: Where Fashion Fears to Tread