If you want to get underground you usually have to dig, but this holiday season the subterranean artistic forces in the Salt Lake community are rising to the surface like potent geothermal eruptions and breaching the terra firma of convention. Events like the Black Sheep Stroll and the Salt Lake City Holiday Fashion Boutique are providing the above-ground space for undiscovered artists like designer Lala West to showcase their avant-garde genius.
Lala’s spirit is Lala’s work is Lala’s life. There is no compartmentalization of activities for this passionate muse who beautifully embodies the idea of artist well. Though unconventional in her natural expression it is through the convention we call dedication that she has arrived at the creative expanse in which she now flourishes.
Her craft in designing and creating unique fabric and leather clothing has evolved through years of engaging with life. When Lala was younger she says she “got sick of clothes” and began restructuring second-hand clothing to create her own fashion. An interested Park City store owner helped Lala realize that making clothing was a viable way for her to express her creativity and generate income. A concurrent venture in the performance arts as a stilter motivated Lala to create costumes which segued into fashioning festival wear after she attended her first Burning Man event. A joint business adventure transformed into a solo business journey and Lala’s career has been reborn as 3rd Phoenix West.
“People are informed by what activities they engage in, what music they listen to, what people they surround themselves with. A lot of the things I make are utilitarian because when you’re out there on the playa at Burning Man you have to survive.”
This holiday season, inspired by both her attraction to the styles of the 20s and 30s and her penchant for functionality, Lala is debuting a new line of exquisite and seriously crafted clothing. Her Urban Jedi wear embodies her own style values of comfort, utilitarianism and elegance. Think glamorous in a Mad Max kind of way. The hooded, cropped Jedi jacket Lala has created is a reversible masterpiece of harmoniously-balanced brocade and denim fabrics on one side and rich, patterned velvet pieces on the other, accented with dark brown leather detailing. The jacket arms are corseted and snapped to allow for individual fit and detach to become a vest (for when you need to bust out some Jedi moves).
No stray threads or wonky stitches are visible as Lala constructs the pieces with her Capricornian compulsion for perfection. Wear a Jedi jacket and “you’ll look different, and you’ll look elegant.”
Lala is unabashedly proud of her creations, only because she feels like she is simply a channel through which creativity flows. “I open up,” she explains when describing her process. “It uses my hands. Everything I make wows me because I don’t feel like I made it. The work that I do is simply an expression of spirit. I’m just a part of it, and it keeps getting better. ”
As a non-compartmentalized, integrated and active participant in her community, Lala attributes a measure of her creative inspiration to the connections she has with a vibrant circle of artists she calls family. “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t talk to another artist and we say, ‘Hey, isn’t this a great idea?’ I’m infused with art constantly and, as a Utah community, this is a really special group of people.