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L.A.M.B: Gwen Stefani Brings Rock, Reggae, a Lot of Style and a Little Pandemonium to the Tents

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Twelve months ago, Gwen Stefani showed her L.A.M.B. Fall 2010 collection in a small calm presentation at Milk Studios, where the only person of note we spotted was Fern Mallis. What a difference twelve months makes... Last night, Stefani showed her Fall 2011 Collection in the packed Theater of the Lincoln Center Tents. Pre-show pandemonium reigned, as some guests fought over seats, others fought with security guards, who refused to let them enter due to supposed, "orders from the Fire Marshal," and photographers fought to remain on the overcrowded runway, in hopes of getting a shot of actor Matt Damon, whose name was on a front row seat, but who never actually showed up.

But once the show started, the stylish crowd immediately forgave and forgot all, as Gwen presented a fabulous collection based on her own music-based style influences. The show was divided into six groups—each with a specific theme, portrayed cohesively via the backdrop, music and clothing. Not surprisingly for the designer, vintage Vivienne Westwood influences could be found in many of the groupings.

As smoke machines did their magic, the show kicked off with a film of a helicopter on the backdrop, and the first grouping, "Soldier Girls," came down the runway. These models, with the front of their hair poofing out from under WAC-like head scarves, wore trench coats and bomber jackets and lots of Westwood-like tartans, and marched to techno-fied songs by Queen and Led Zeppelin.

Following "Soldier Girls," came Group Two, the "Ragga Muffin Girls," whose styles were influenced by Jamaican reggae colors and prints. Models in orange, yellow and brown tribal prints, and Rasta inspired hats, walked the runway backed by pictures and snippets of Bob Marley and his music.

After the final Ragga Muffin model left the stage, The Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK," kicked in, and black and white photos of Seventies England filled the backdrop. Surprisingly, this grouping, "London Girls," didn't include any Westwood-style bondage pants, nor any motorcycle jackets. Instead, Gwen sent out stylish menswear for women. Much of the collection consisted of neckties, riding-style jackets and tight suits. Here too, many pieces were tartan.

As the strains of Bowie's "Rebel Rebel," faded into rap music, and then country music, we thought, "Gwen can't be following that closely in Vivienne Westwood's footsteps, can she?" But then Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals" started playing, and we looked at our program, which said "Group Four: Buffalo Girls," and we excitedly realized, "Oh yes she can!" This grouping, heavily inspired by Westwood's own early Eighties "Buffalo Girls" Collection, included short wool jackets, paired with draping, layered, thick blanket like skirts or slim slacks. Runway hair was big, ratty, and in some cases, topped by Boy George-style hats. Models walked and then one tripped, fell and was applauded, to Nenah Cherry's "Buffalo Stance" and Grandmaster Flash's "The Message."

At this point, we weren't at all surprised to discover that Stefani's fifth grouping was "Mod Girls," which consisted solely of black and white pieces, although not all of them showed the influence of Sixties Mod styles. The music for this section included Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime," and of course, songs by The Who.

The collection's final grouping, and its least musically influenced one, was called "Glamour Girls." It consisted entirely of big haired models dressed in contemporary black eveningwear. They walked the runway as giant glamour shots of Gwen were projected behind them on the screen.

As the show ended, and the standing ovation began, Gwen Stefani came out and walked the catwalk, partially with her son Kingston, who had run out from backstage to join her.

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