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LA Fashion Week Goes from Flashy to Scrappy

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A runway from last fall's LAFW
A runway from last fall's LAFW

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Tonight, Fashion Week in Los Angeles kicks off with GenArt's three-part runway show, tickets for which are still on sale. Yes: On sale—$40 for plebe seats, $75 for VIP. Given the state of LAFW these days, though, we can't say we entirely disapprove.

LA Fashion Week has had a tough run of things lately. For five years the event was run by IMG, the same company that manages the tents in Bryant Park. It's hard to tell whether IMG was willing to tolerate a high level of celebrity schlock because, as a New York-based company, they didn't expect much more out of Los Angeles. In any case, under them the event devolved into a bad episode of Entourage, or, as one Racked LA commenter explained: "It had potential in its first few years, and then it became a c-list celebrity f$#kfest with backstage fighting from Antonio Sabato Jr." This past summer, though, IMG got into a dispute with event location Smashbox Studios and announced that October '08 would be their last LA show.

After that, all the ancillary Fashion Week players dropped out one by one, leaving only the indies, GenArt and BOXeight. For a while it looked like Fashion Week was a lost cause—BOXeight kept claiming they were going to run the thing, but up until the end of February their lineup was essentially blank. Then, on March 3, ten days before things were set to start, they announced an agenda: A weekend full of runway shows, with both days open to the public. Meanwhile, GenArt came through with their event, a host of local designers threw together off-site presentations, and a group called COLA even managed to organize an alternate Fashion Week taking place the following weekend. Suddenly, at the last minute, everything had come together, and utterly without the usual attendant celebrity circus.

It's sort of a happy ending, but we're still not sure what it means for the actual week ahead. Will the ticket sales and general disorganization result in an embarrassing mess? Or will this new do-it-yourself ethos mean that LA Fashion Week is, for the first time in many years, genuinely about Los Angeles designers? (Don't smirk, New York; Rodarte's from Pasadena.) Either way, we'll be following it all breathlessly over at RackedLA.
· Rumor Has It: LA Fashion Week On Its Last Legs [RackedLA]
· BOXeight Announces LA Fashion Week Lineup [RackedLA]
· COLA Throws Hat Into Fashion Week Ring [Racked LA]