Los Angeles Fashion Week takes place this month and yesterday I got my first preview of the exciting lineup of upcoming festivities. Things kick off on Tuesday with an amazing pre-Fashion Week party hosted by Two Point Oh! LA at The Falls Lounge downtown. And throughout March, there will be many wonderful designers showing their collections and I'm really looking forward to attending some of the shows.
But I must admit that I was beyond surprised by the sheer number of names not on the list to show at Fashion Week here. While meeting up with super stylists Marci Michalovitz and Alysha Kelley at the Viceroy last night, it turned out I wasn't alone in being confused. It really seemed to beg the question: as Los Angeles continues to rise in the respect and recognition of the fashion community, why are there not more designers showing here?
After all, think about just some of the influence of Los Angeles in fashion. Trends galore start here and move East. Surf and skate style. Denim. Boho Chic. Nearly all styles that stem from TV, from Charlie's Angels to Dynasty to Mad Men. Nearly all styles that stem from movies, from the prim of Hitchcock to the prep of Love Story. And right now we're seeing an explosion of color for Spring that is most definitely the influence of the West Coast as are most designers' resort collections which can be worn year-round here. Also, those New York, Parisian, and Italian collections generally don't become a hit in stores until they're styled on celebrities, and most celebrities are seen wearing those clothes on the streets and award shows of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is also not the uncultured city it was once considered to be. It is decidedly on the rise as a respected center of the arts. Museums and galleries are growing in number and prestige, including New York transplants now heading up at least two major museums here. And according to a recent article in W magazine, graduates of the numerous art and fashion schools around town are no longer gravitating to the East Coast. That means that the quality and quantity of working artists in Los Angeles is growing and growing each year. Painters, performance artists, mixed media, graphic designers, photographers, fashion designers, stylists, filmmakers, musicians...you name it and they're all living and working in LA.
So with all that talent, influence, and an enormous consumer market, why is Los Angeles still so ignored?
Clearly a shift needs to happen. I suggest it start with any designers that are from LA, schooled in LA, or based out of LA. A great way to jump start the westward trend could be with a celebrity-led line like L.A.M.B. Gwen Stefani would be ideal--she's from Orange County and still lives here, she has tons of LA pride, her style reflects Southern California, and that same style is respected worldwide. There are also other celebrity designers who live here, such as Victoria Beckham, who could bring a lot of lovely attention to the runways here. Perhaps if someone like them starts the trend, other designers will follow. No one has to show exclusively in Los Angeles right off the bat, but I definitely think it's worth their while to also start showing here and maybe even save some of their collection for the Los Angeles runways.
It's important to remember that once upon a time, showing in New York was considered far inferior to showing in Paris or Milan. That has dramatically changed. Now American designers show with great pride and panache at Bryant Park in New York and the collections are admired around the world. This is my hope for Los Angeles. I think it's time for some serious change and really hope someone like Gwen will step up and help show what we all know to be true...that Los Angeles really is a serious place for fashion.