What does the Gen Art/Rock Media merger mean for L.A. Fashion Week?
It looks like Gen Art, the prettiest girl at the L.A. Fashion Week dance, is getting hitched.
On Wednesday, the showcase for emerging fashion designers announced plans to merge with Rock Media & Entertainment effective Sept. 15. That's the same day their first joint effort -- Gen Art's 15th anniversary Fresh Faces in Fashion show in New York City -- takes place as the finale of the Style360 shows.
We're told the new entity will change its name to the somewhat unwieldy acronym RMGA, LLC, -- though we delicately suggest a letter scramble to make it something a little more fun and memorable like GRAM(with the tagline "fashion isn't heavy"), and be helmed by the founding partners of each company. Rock's Scott Rosenblum will be the chief executive, Gen Art's Ian Gerard and Rock's Nicole Purcell will serve as co-presidents and Gen Art's Stefan Gerard will be the chief operating officer for the new company.
So how, exactly, will all this boardroom gobbledygook affect what happens here in the 323 (and the 213, 818 and the 310). Most immediately, the L.A. installment of Gen Art's Fresh Faces in Fashion will be folded into Rock Media's four-day fashion showcase that's scheduled to unspool Oct. 28 to 31 at Paramount Studios. We're told it will take place Oct. 29.
Longer term, it takes one of the belles of the L.A. Fashion Week ball off the dance floor. Over the years, Gen Art has been the most consistent twice yearly presence in Los Angeles, and after several seasons of rumored partnerships with the assorted upstart groups trying to gain a toehold in the L.A. runway racket, teamed up with BOXeight in March for one night of runway shows.
It also indicates that 2-year-old Rock Media, which despite producing events in Miami and New York City is a relative unknown on the Los Angeles runway circuit, seems serious about the scene. (It should be noted that although we usually focus on Gen Art's fashion projects, the group also showcases emerging film and music talent.)
But perhaps the most promising aspect of the merger is Rock Media's existing partnership with magazine publisher Hachette Filipacchi (whose media properties include Elle, ellegirl.com, Women's Day and Premiere.com). Earlier this year, Rosenblum and Purcell explained that these magazines' advertisers are usually the ones that become the official automobile, hotel and beverage sponsors of its assorted fashion events.
Now it seems there's the potential for the synergy to work the other way too -- the up-and-coming designers cultivated and curated by Gen Art might find it easier to get much-needed exposure in the pages (and page views) of HFM titles.
That in turn can only help generate interest in the Los Angeles runway scene, which has been a disjointed patchwork since IMG and Smashbox Studios took their curtain call last October.
And as Martha Stewart (overlord of her own media empire) might say: "That's a good thing."
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: A look from the Society for Rational Dress runway show on March 15, part of a Gen Art/BOXeight partnership kicking off L.A. Fashion Week. Gen Art and different group -- newcomer Rock Media -- will merge on Sept. 15. Credit: Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times