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Fashion week in L.A. loses its split personality

February 13, 2004|Booth Moore | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Well it's about time. At last, L.A. is going to have a unified fashion week instead of two competing events. Organizers 7th on Sixth and Smashbox Studios have announced they will put their differences aside and jointly produce one Los Angeles Fashion Week, March 29-April 2.

Officially titled "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios," it will be held at the Culver City photography studio owned by the brothers Dean and Davis Factor, and will feature 35 to 40 shows.

"It's obviously the best solution for the L.A. community," said Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth, which is owned by international sports and entertainment marketing firm IMG. "It's in everyone's best interest to consolidate," said Davis Factor, chief creative director of Smashbox.

Mallis and Factor would not disclose the details of the partnership, except to say that the production costs and risk would be shared.

In October 2002, 7th on Sixth, the New York-based production company now in its 11th year of producing the semi-annual shows in New York, began producing shows in L.A. at the Downtown Standard Hotel. The fall and spring events were held at the same time as shows at Smashbox Studios, and many found the competing schedules and venues counterproductive.

Designers seemed optimistic Thursday, if slightly guarded, about news of a single event.

"My only concern is it becoming a generic corporate moneymaker. Smashbox has been really flexible, allowing me to do whatever I want to do, and I wonder how that's going to be with more designers and more cooks in the kitchen?" designer Corey Lynn Calter said.

Louis Verdad, who has shown in the past at the Mercedes-Benz event, was more upbeat. "Unifying designers under the same roof will bring credibility to Los Angeles Fashion Week. After all, unity equals strength in a positive way."

Others in the L.A. fashion community seemed relieved. "Something like this needed to happen," said Todd Hallman, a wardrobe stylist who works with celebrities. "New York and Europe weren't going to take us seriously."

When Mallis and 7th on Sixth first came to L.A., they chose to have their event at the Standard partly because it was near the California Market Center, the showroom center and heart of L.A.'s Fashion District. City officials had hoped the event could be part of downtown's revitalization, but that did not prove to be true.

"Ultimately, people didn't want to go downtown," Mallis said.

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