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How LA Fashion Week Went from Flashy to Scrappy

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A runway from last fall's Whitley Kros show at LAFW
A runway from last fall's Whitley Kros show at LAFW

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Tonight, Fashion Week kicks off with GenArt's three-part runway show. In a way, it's a triumph for LA Fashion Week, which has had a tough run of things lately. For five years, as you might recall, the event was run by IMG, the same company that manages the tents at New York's Fashion Week. Under them, it 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. If you've been paying attention, you know what happened next: 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 came 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? Either way, we'll be following it all breathlessly, with near-live reports from the shows all day Saturday and Sunday and into next week.
· 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]