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Another underground movement is sweeping San Francisco. From post-techno and neo-tribal to S&M and pagan, the styles of the city's emerging designers traverse the extremes of the Bay Area underground with one recurrent theme: Wear your imagination, not your ego.

Cloud Factory Design Collective, a group of 18 designers (in)famous for experimenting with the mischievous, perverse, and eccentric, are at the forefront of the movement. They recently guided hungry fashion mongers through the fantastic with S/HeZaam, an elaborate 19-part fashion performance held at San Fran's Club Cocomo.

Among the most noticeable designers was Rain. Bringing new meaning to "risque," Rain showcased a series of gowns, corsets and skirts fashioned from metals, plastics and other post-industrial materials. The most gorgeous of them all was a full length strapless dress that encased the torso with metal rods and then flowed out into the shape a shell. Designer Allison Cohen crossed trance with Las Vegas to create black-light costumes, a peacock cape and a multi-ruffled skirt.

On the more accessible and provocative side, Liz Tilley created rogue-ish designs with plain and textured tops and bottoms, scaly aprons, seaweed belts, and an unusual array of caps, hats and crowns. Kei Hashinoguchi offered the most wearable art of the evening with a selection of diaphanous blouses and camisoles, sloping, layered skirts and Koosh Ball-adorned pumps.

Though the Cloud Factory event was a unique spectacle, it was a refreshing glimpse into the city's fashion netherworld.

- Seeta Peña Gangadharan
photo by Randy Cummings