Los Angeles Market Week upped the runway ante in the absence of an official fashion week this season.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The California Market Center and organizers The Gallery L.A. and KPR held a joint opening reception Friday, followed by a Cynthia Steffe show on the CMC’s front patio and a group runway show at Cooper Design Space featuring Raw 7, Post’age Denim and Samora.

Down the street, City of Los Angeles Fashion Week, or CoLA, melded a runway production with the party scene for which Los Angeles Fashion Week is often known. At Brian Lichtenberg’s presentation that closed CoLA on Saturday, club kids swarmed the front row in tutus, perforated T-shirts and silver lamé sneakers to gawk at the giant stuffed Yoda head attached to a miniskirt and other fur-trimmed outfits that a cave girl would wear on a night out dancing. But the designer and show organizers also invited industry insiders, including Alisa Loftin, owner of the directional boutique Aero & Co., and stylist Melis Kuris, who’s dressing the cast from the hit film “Twilight.”

Despite unfavorable comparisons to other fashion capitals, Los Angeles Fashion Week was praised by model-turned-designer Erin Wasson for giving local designers an opportunity to shine. “You don’t need world validation to be creative,” said Wasson, who made the rounds last week. “They’re still doing their thing and getting their ideas out there. It’s a big enough city.”