David Cardona

LOS ANGELES — Fashion week here is moving up.<br><br>Organizers of the runway shows have announced they are bumping up the show dates in the calendar more than a week before market begins on April 1.<br><br>New York-based 7th on Sixth, which...

LOS ANGELES — Fashion week here is moving up.

This story first appeared in the January 29, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Organizers of the runway shows have announced they are bumping up the show dates in the calendar more than a week before market begins on April 1.

New York-based 7th on Sixth, which produces MercedesBenzShowsLA, plans to kick off fashion week March 24 with a party, then present shows through March 27.

On March 27, SmashboxFashionWeekLosAngeles is slated to open its program, with event times available through April 2 at the Culver City , Calif., campus. That seven-day stretch could shorten, however.

“The dates have to do with the number of designers. We have an overwhelming number of requests for shows. And we have the flexibility because we own it,” said Smashbox co-owner Dean Factor.

Market week is scheduled for April 1-6. The California Market Center’s trend overview fashion show is April 2.

In addition, MercedesBenzShowsLA is relocating out of downtown to Santa Monica. Sources say 7th on Sixth is close to finalizing plans to stage its shows at Hangar 8 at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport. The cavernous space has housed the Divine Design fashion sales and the AIDS Project Los Angeles-Gucci show in previous years.

Moving Los Angeles up on the international show calendar has long been a hot point for the design community here.

“It’s been so far off that it begs ‘why do it at all,’” said local designer David Cardona, who continues to do a signature line while spending half his time designing the women’s line for Cerruti in Milan. “Once that happens, the global market needs to embrace it and save some dollars to make buys here.”

Publicist and show producer Kelly Cutrone of People’s Revolution concurred. “The dates need to be changed. They should be immediately following Paris. By the time you show and get a look book made, it’s June. No one wants to see fall that late. The dollars are spent. It’s ridiculous. L.A. needs to be taken seriously. The designers here need to get serious.”

Allowing buyers and media to get an earlier chance to see the lines motivated the change, said 7th on Sixth’s Fern Mallis. “It’s what’s right, to give the city a little more respect so it’s not viewed as some other regional market.”

Mallis said she was also discussing with the Council of Fashion Designers of America expanding its consideration of Los Angeles designers in the voting process. “It’s going to take some more time before the press gives it the exposure it deserves,” she added. “I think there’s still a lot of talent we haven’t seen on the runway there. The media coverage that leads to the buyers and demand for the product is what will ultimately make it.”

While buyers applaud the change, they add more needs to happen for Los Angeles Fashion Week to become a heady contender.

“Just because a company has the money or inclination to do a show doesn’t mean it should do a show,” said Henri Bendel’s Ed Burstell, whose team comes west six times a year, including two Open-Sees now held during fashion week. “There are some things from the contemporary market and denim world that are not runway-worthy.”

Sarah Stewart, women’s buyer at Maxfield in West Hollywood, agreed. “Los Angeles has some great ideas and great lifestyle collections that buyers from all over come here to pick up, and designers from Europe and New York come to get inspiration from. But I’m not sure it all belongs on a runway. To really make people show up, the community needs to make some disciplined choices — because the talent is here — and it’s going to have to have one or two heavy hitters show here and only here.”

Meanwhile, Smashbox is reinforcing its rep as a showcase of contemporary and denim lines by having signed on sponsor Innovo Group, the publicly held Los Angeles company whose owners are behind Joe’s Jeans, Da-Nang, Yanuk and Fetish by Eve, among others. Innovo’s logo will appear on signs. “They’re going to be able to meet the young brands at the shows,” said Factor, “and who knows [what could happen].”

He added that American Express is back on board this season in a higher-profile way.

“When you have major corporations that say, ‘Hey, we believe in this and what you’re doing,’ it gives the city an enormous amount of credibility.”