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COLA tries to add some fizz to L.A. Fashion Week

March 4, 2009 |  6:39 pm

Break out the pencils, scratch pads and desk calendars; another group has sprung up tRage_cola1o fill the void during what once was Los Angeles Fashion Week.

An organization calling itself the City of Los Angeles Fashion Week (COLA) issued a news release today announcing plans for two days of invitation-only runway shows to be held Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21, at an as-yet undisclosed downtown location. 

This is not to be confused with the BOXeight/Gen Art trio of runway shows scheduled for the previous Friday (March 13), the BOXeight-organized shows on Saturday and Sunday (March 14 and 15) or the Downtown LA Fashion Week event expected to unspool at the MOCA at the Geffen on Thursday, March 19 (and possibly on Wednesday, March 18, as well).

And despite its official-sounding name, it has no affiliation with the city of Los Angeles government, or the mayor's office, which has long been vocal about bringing fashion events to downtown L.A. "It influenced our name but that's it," said freelance publicist Jess Kane, one of COLA's founders. "We just wanted to represent the city in the name [we chose]."

Kane said the group was not ready to release details on the venue ("We want to keep a little air of mystery to it," she told me.), but confirmed that it was slated to take place on Los Angeles Street in the downtown Fashion District, and to date has six confirmed labels: B.Son, Fremont, COA, Eksempel, Joyrich and Brian Lichtenberg (who was part of the BOXeight lineup in October).

And just how, exactly, are these two nights of runway shows going to be different from the others?  "They won't be open to the public," Kane said matter-of-factly. "This is an industry and trade event and not a consumer event, so we're focusing on the press and buyers. Will people be writing orders? I'm not sure. But we just felt there was a gap in this market right now."

Back in the fall, trade show organizer IDG World Expo announced its intention to fill that gap with a hybrid event, but in December postponed those plans citing the economy. Interestingly, Santa Monica-based Onebox Productions, listed as the registrar of record for the COLAFW.com domain name (and its founder, Shannon Leggett, is a COLA principal), has experience in that arena; the client list includes two Surf Expo shows and the ISAM swimwear show.

So now we've got Gen Art (which is showcasing fashion here, not art), BOXeight and Onebox as well as  Downtown LA Fashion Week and the City of L.A. Fashion Week, one open to the public and one not. Confused yet? We are.

The only thing that seems clear at this point is that if someone steps up to the plate and puts something together for Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, it would actually be a fashion week -- and then some. Anyone?
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo from Brian Lichtenberg's BOXeight runway show on Oct. 17, 2008. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/L.A. Times.

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