By  on March 19, 2008

The city has become a fashion trendsetter and wants to build on that reputation.

The ninth season of Mercedes-Benz fashion week at Smashbox Studios last week provided ample evidence that Los Angeles has arrived as a fashion destination.

Sean "Diddy" Combs and Quincy Jones sat in the front row at the Pussycat Dolls show, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was the host for a Council of Fashion Designers of America event at his official residence and starlets went party- and premiere-hopping as flashbulbs popped.

"L.A. is a world-class city; like New York, it's a crossroads for a lot of people and cultures and having the movie industry in the backyard opens up a lot of opportunities," said IMG's Fern Mallis, who brought Mercedes-Benz fashion week to the city in 2002. "It's a very global world now. Whenever I'm overseas, people ask me, 'What about L.A.?'"

Los Angeles Fashion Week has grown as the city has reached a critical mass at retail — including hot spots Melrose Avenue, Melrose Place and Robertson Boulevard, as well as Rodeo Drive — in the financial sector and in the media. While IMG and Smashbox have the business model and production nailed down, both acknowledge that strides could be made to raise the quality of the product showcased, and to further integrate the Culver City event with the rest of the city.

The Smashbox tent graphics this year mimicked the gates of the old Warner Bros. Studio, indicating that stars can be born on the runway, or at least a red-carpet look or two. While fresh local talent such as Suh-Than and Orthodox were highlighted among the 22 shows, there were also lines from London and Mumbai (Julia Clancey and Falguni & Shane, respectively) that had editors from Vogue, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire and Elle tuning in. Though she didn't attend shows, Anna Wintour was in town last week to meet with designers Juan Carlos Obando, J Mary and Liseanne Frankfurt, among others, and hosted a dinner in honor of Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière, who was in town to open his store on Melrose.

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