by Mya Stark
“Dream on” is the perpetual motto of artist, illustrator and designer Alia Penner. Raised in the sylvan groves of LA counter-culture haven Topanga Canyon, Penner makes psychedelic, peacock-hued collages, paintings, photography and garments that serve as portals to usher the viewer into a myriad of ‘60s-flavored, ultra-feminine reveries.
The allure of Penner’s dreams has led to a string of high-profile collaborations. She’s had work featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire and Lula magazine; worked with brands like Warby Parker, Missoni, Meadham Kirchoff and H&M; crafted a credit sequence for Kenneth Anger; spun posters for Animal Collective and Bat for Lashes; designed the logo for Williamsburg’s Beautiful Dreamers, dresses for Paris’ Colette and a one-night-only environment at the Standard in LA. Penner even dreamed up a fine-art bouncy castle for gallery Mastodon Mesa.
Her latest collaboration is with a movie theater. Penner has been involved with non-profit cinematheque Cinefamily since its inception in 2007, creating posters for Herzog documentaries, Czech New Wave flicks and many more. Cinefamily—housed in the historic Silent Movie Theatre—is well-known for its groundbreaking programming and an immersive style of exhibition that makes each film a truly worthwhile sensory, intellectual and social experience.
Now Penner’s own visions fill Cinefamily’s screen in her new series of happenings, called Dress Up. At these events, Penner selects a film she’s found inspirational and invites the audience to attend dressed in their most suitable fashions. A soirée follows in the theater’s beautiful back patio, where attendees model for volunteer photographers.
For her inaugural event, Penner chose the swingin’ London gem “Wonderwall,” in the rare 35mm format—one of very few stateside. Starring icon Jane Birkin as a model, with production design by legendary design collective The Fool and a score by George Harrison, the film brought out the best in a mostly female audience of beautifully dressed filmgoers.
According to Penner, “Movies are an endless inspiration. It was awesome to be able to invite this community of rad lady artists, and to feel that everyone was psyched about what we were seeing onscreen.”
Penner’s Dress Up screenings are held monthly at LA’s Cinefamily. Have a look at the website for the full schedule.
Photographs by John Roney