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Clash of the Creative Titans

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After much whining and pleading, LAist's inner child persuaded us to call USC and obtain a pass to the "Ready to Share: Ownership of Creativity in Fashion" conference on 1/30 sponsored by USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center's Creativity, Commerce & Culture project, Center for the Public Domain and The Fashion Institute of Desgin & Merchandise/FIDM.

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(Norman Lear and Michael Patrick King)

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We're happy to report that the conference was a smooth blend of style and substance as fashion insiders and FIDM students, music industry vets, legal scholars and TV showrunners debated the ecology of creativity and intellectual property ownership in the fashion industry.

Tom Ford, Kevan Hall, Cameron Silver (all wearing suits) and Women's Wear Daily's Rose Apodaca Jones provided more than enough style. Mr. Ford, looking Euro-dashing in a sharply tailored suit, crisp white shirt unbuttoned to his sternum and polka dot pocket square, spoke on a panel with New York Times fashion critic Guy Trebay and Norman Lear Center Fellows Laurie Racine about how the fashion industry copes with the constant appropriation of designer styles and ideas; "Sex and the City's" Michael Patrick King (striped Oxford with jeans and tennis shoes) and Norman Lear discussed creativity and fashion in the television industry while music industry vets T. Bone Burnett (rocking the hip preacher man look), Danger Mouse (T-shirt, jeans and trainers), The Roots producer and manager Richard Nichols and Sam Phillips gave their opinions about the rapidly imploding music industry.

Local designer Kevan Hall presented his Spring '05 line in a fashion show. His brother Vondie Curtis Hall and sister-in-law Kasi Lemmons showed up with their kids to lend the designer some support. And we finally confirmed that Los Angeles Times fashion critic, Booth Moore, is a woman after watching her speak on the "Business of Creativity" panel.

We've long wondered how Tom Ford, a recent transplant, would fit in with LA. He's much more playful than his professional persona suggests yet he remains far more elegant and measured than your average Angeleno. Norman Lear best exemplified a more typical look: the avuncular Brentwood man-about-town uniform of a brown, suede jacket and chinos.

We'd like to see the Mr. Ford, who now lives in LA and aspires to launch a career in the film industry, go completely native, a la Allen Carr and wear caftans, instead of the usual director uniform of jeans, T-shirts and tennis shoes.

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We leave you with some choice quotes:
When asked why fashion designers often exhibit similar color schemes and ideas in their collections, Tom Ford admitted "well, everyone's assistant is sleeping with everyone else's assistant."

Richard Nichols had really strong opinions about the demise of the music industry, saying he'd get rid of EMI's new products division and just market the music catalog. He also said that creativity must always work within a context. "What would the most talented basketball player be in the 1700s?," he asked. "A fool."

"How would a guy who could make a record-scratching sounds be viewed in 1600?" "They'd set him on fire!"

In the coming days, you can read a full report of the day's discussions here or watch the entire when it's uploaded to www.readytoshare.org website.