LOS ANGELES, Mar 31, 2004/ FW/ — What a difference 4 months make. Last November, there were two “fashion weeks” in Los Angeles, the Mercedes Benz Shows LA and Smashbox Fashion Week Los Angeles. And now, there is ONE, the “Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios.”
The news of the merge between the two shows became official last February 12, while New York Fashion Week was still in full swing.
There was very little reaction among the fashion flock, not because they were not interested, but because it was just the beginning of the womenswear season. Los Angeles was not scheduled until end of March and we still have London, Milan and Paris to tackle.
After the madhouse called the international fashion season was over, it was time to face Los Angeles. Because of the merge, changes were expected. As it turned out, it was all for the better.
First, there were the mainstays. It was great to see Jacquie Kelleher at the pressroom while picking up our press badges. And as always, it was a painless experience. Jacquie ran the accreditation process the same she did New York, which had always been fast and efficient.
Second, the Head of Security for New York Fashion Week is the same one handling the security at Smashbox. And that was a great sigh of relief among the fashion flock who covers the international fashion scene. One of the main complaints last season at Smashbox was the disorganized handling of attendees. Under the experienced hands of New York Fashion Week’s head honcho of security, checking in for the shows was very smooth and fast.
But one thing did not change – problems with parking! At the Standard last season, where Mercedes Benz Shows LA was held, parking was not a problem. Located downtown, there are several parking structures around. That was not the case at Smashbox Studios.
Located in Culver City, there are no parking structures around or near Smashbox Studios. You have to park in the street or in a parking lot, which are usually full because those are reserved spaces for the people who work there.
And there were no hotels near Smashbox Studios either. The nearest is about 3 miles away, which is too far to walk. Add to that – very few people walk in L.A. Everyone drives!
Unlike New York where there is a hotel within walking distance of Bryant Park, in Los Angeles we had to have a car so that we can go to the shows. Hence parking is a priority all the time.
Granted, valet parking service is available, but there is not even enough space for that. After so many vehicles, valet parking service stops.
One thing that had both changed and remained unchanged (sounds contradictory, but please bear with me) is that there are now three organizers who attend the show. In New York, and last season here in Los Angeles, Fern Mallis, Executive Director of 7th on Sixth is present in all the shows.
This season at Smashbox Studios, it is good to see Fern Mallis, Dean Factor and Davis Factor attending the shows together. And if they are not together, at least one or two of them will be around.
As The Daily, official publication of 7th on Sixth during fashion week had related, Fern Mallis, Dean Factor and Davis Factor are great friends since the discussion of the merge began.
And if you are wondering who initiated the merge, according to The Daily, it was Dean Factor who made the first phone call. The rest is history.
So, will this synergy continue? Personally, I hope so. 7th on Sixth has a handle in producing fashion shows. New York Fashion Week proves that. And as Fern Mallis commented at The Daily, Smashbox Studios give ‘grounding’ to a fashion week in Los Angeles because Dean and Davis Factor live in LA the whole year round.
The fashion scene in Los Angeles is just developing. This is only the third season, and though it is going smoothly and becoming bigger each year, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Two fashion weeks in an emerging market will be detrimental instead of helpful. Merging the two shows together will benefit Los Angeles and the new designers who want to be noticed.
Like London, which has historically jumpstarts young designers to go to New York, Milan or Paris, Los Angeles can do the same thing.
Or better yet, it can be a fashion capital in its own right. After all, Hollywood is just around the corner!
Photo by Javier Mateo