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Concept Los Angeles Fashion Week announces a New York City date, L.A. change of venue

February 2, 2011 |  3:56 pm

Ragemartinmartin

In a runway version of bringing the mountain to Muhammad, the organizers of Concept Los Angeles Fashion Week, which has hosted a slate of runway shows, presentations and installations at the Spring Arts Tower in downtown L.A. for the last two seasons, Wednesday announced plans for a one-day, four-designer presence during New York Fashion Week, with several days of Los Angeles shows planned for mid-March.

Dubbed Concept New York Fashion Week at the Audi Forum (the car brand has signed on as an event sponsor, as has Toni & Guy salons) will take place on Feb. 14 at 250 Park Avenue in New York City, with runway shows by Los Angeles-based brands MartinMartin and Mike Vensel and Russian label The Muscovites. The name of the fourth label (and whether it will be presented in a runway or presentation format) has yet to be announced.

Vensel , who is also one of Concept's co-founders (along with Brady Westwater), said a presence in New York would not only give brands more exposure to press and buyers already gathered there for presentation of the fall-winter 2011 collections, it would also acquaint those same retailers and reporters with the concept of, well Concept.

"If press and buyers become familiar with us and have a good experience, it opens the door for the future," he said. "And they might consider coming to the Los Angeles shows down the road."

Vensel said there was no requirement that participating brands be based in Los Angeles or even be a new or emerging label. "We've worked with international brands in the past, we've worked with commercial brands, but it seems that we attract labels that tend to be more artistic and edgy. They tend to be the kind of brands that gravitate toward us."

The one day pop-up presence in Manhattan this month is expected to be followed by three days in Los Angeles next month. Concept Los Angeles Fashion Week, is scheduled to run March 11-13 at a new venue -- 15,000 square feet of space at the Ace Gallery Los Angeles (5514 Wilshire Boulevard, between Burnside and Dunsmuir avenues).

Even though that Mid-Wilshire location is closer to the La Brea Tar Pits than the historic core, Concept co-founder Westwater, whose focus on revitalizing downtown L.A. was his original motivation for getting involved in the reboot of L.A. Fashion Week, isn't being a stick in the tar about it.

"What's more important right now is that we show people we have the right platform in place for the fashion designers and fashion industry. Once we have that platform in place, we can consider all kinds of venues all over the city."

The mid-March timetable dovetails nicely with the Gallery L.A.'s planned Fashion Week Los Angeles at Sunset Gower Studios, which has slated five days of fashion shows beginning on March 14.

There's also a new name on the Los Angeles Fashion Week calendar this season -- Style Fashion Week LA -- scheduled for March 15-18 at the the former St. Vibiana's Cathedral in downtown L.A. -- which has been home to a handful of runway shows over the last few years.

At the same time Concept''s organizers announced plans for New York and Los Angeles fashion weeks, they also announced plans for a more permanent fashion presence -- on a stretch of Wilshire Boulevard.

It's a result, Vensel says, of the recently forged partnership with the Ace Gallery. "There's 6,000 square feet of retail space and almost a half a city block of storefront windows," he said. "We're envisioning a permanent project space in the back of the gallery dedicated to contemporary fashion design, with a retail space in the front and an opportunity to showcase fashion designers alongside various artists in a very visible way. We're even thinking about how to project the runway shows against the exterior walls of the building so the public can be involved."

Fashion that's as accessible from the driver's seat as it is from a front-row seat?

How totally L.A.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: A look from the MartinMartin's spring-summer 2011 runway collection shown during Concept Los Angeles Fashion Week in October 2010. Concept is taking four brands -- including MartinMartin to New York City during New York Fashion Week. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

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