Los Angeles Fashion Week started in the middle of the 20th century with "Press Week" and the invitation of fashion journalists to see collections from, and in, Southern California.
Since the late 1990s, Los Angeles Fashion Week has been represented and coordinated by a loose consortium of L.A. fashion designers, journalists, and marketers interested in its success. Among the longest running Fashion Week exhibitions since that time is Gen Art, with its annual "Avant Guardians" and "Fresh Faces in Fashion" events, which are held in March and October respectively at venues throughout Los Angeles.
In 2002, IMG's fashion division, which produces Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, made its first foray west, with Mercedes-Benz Shows LA in downtown Los Angeles at The Standard hotel. Simultaneously, Davis Factor and Dean Factor produced Smashbox Fashion Week Los Angeles at Smashbox Studios in Culver City. Dozens of designers showed their collections to journalists, celebrities, family and friends at these two centralized venues, while others still chose to show their collections in unique off site venues such as nightclubs, private estates, train stations, churches and lofts. In 2003, IMG and Smashbox united under one banner to streamline services and venues, choosing the Factor-owned Smashbox Studios Culver City location over downtown Los Angeles venues. The relationship between IMG and Smashbox Studios lasted for five years, with the October 2008 shows marking their final presentation together. Journalists faulted the quality of the designer collections shown; designers faulted the lack of media attendance and the late date on the international calendar; and most everyone faulted the isolated venue experience and insubstantial celebrity attendance.
In October 2005, the LA Fashion Awards debuted to celebrate and honor the very best of California fashion. The annual Awards are timed at the closing of Fashion Week and the opening of Market Week in October, at the service of both retail store buyers and press. A nominating committee of more than forty of LA's top fashion journalists, merchandisers, stylists, designers and marketplace experts participate in the selection process. Among past winners are educator Rosemary Brantley; retailers Ron Herman, Fred Segal, Cameron Silver and Christos Garkinos; designers Trina Turk, Monique Lhuillier and Max Azria; fashion innovators Nony Tochterman of Petro Zillia, Rozae Nichols and Juan Carlos Obando; journalist Rose Apodaca; stylist Arianne Phillips; web publisher DailyCandy; event producer Gen Art; brands American Apparel, Volcom, J Brand, Bebe, Guess; and the television show Project Runway. The program is produced by LA Fashion Awards, LLC, which was co-founded by fashion industry veterans Jennifer Uner and Mary Hill with the support of several visionary sponsors and the endorsement of local fashion industry non-profit organizations California Fashion Association, Fashion Group International of Los Angeles, Fashion Business Incorporated, the Fashion District BID, and also the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and WTCA. The Awards were placed on hiatus in October 2008 after sponsorship support was put on hold in the wake of the financial market meltdown that September. This annual program is expected to return in 2009.
In February 2007, artist Peter Gurnz, developer Gary Warfel, and downtown resident Brady Westwater - all members of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) - created an alternative Fashion Week venue in Downtown Los Angeles, for the first time since IMG moved their production to Smashbox Studios in 2003. It was produced by a local arts organization, BOXeight, founded by artist/designer Peter Gurnz. In Spring 2007, after just 6 weeks of preparation, BOXeight Fashion Week had its first show at the Los Angeles Theater. In Fall 2007, it moved to Vibiana LA, the newly restored Cathedral of Saint Vibiana. In 2008, it moved again, this time eastward to BOXeight's headquarters on the fringe of downtown's warehouse district, which added further patina to its independent street credibility.
With the help of various economic and industry forces, the success and notoriety of L.A. Fashion Week continues to rise. City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has begun to recognize these efforts and connect with the fashion community. In October 2007 he recognized the contributions of the fashion industry with a compelling speech at the opening of the LA Fashion Awards, toured the BOXeight runway show venue at Vibiana, and visited the Designers & Agents trade show and the wholesale showrooms at the Cooper Design Space, New Mart and California Market Center. Early in 2008 the mayor's office briefly formed a committee to better harness and organize the energies of the loose consortium that has worked diligently to improve the reputation of Los Angeles as a fashion capital and the bottom lines of the businesses operating there.
Read more about this topic: Los Angeles Fashion Week
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