Event Review: L.A. Fashion Week - Spring 2004

L.A.'s recently-wrapped "Spring Edition" of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week took place from March 29 to April 2, and what a whirlwind it was.  Except for special events by Gen Art, Heatherette, and a few other designers, smashbox studios was the sole site for fashion shows -- unlike past FW's, where Downtown was also part of the "scene".  This made it easier to hit more shows, but also led to bigger crowds.  The word seems to be spreading farther and wider every year, as the numerous shows were more packed than ever; some had to turn away dozens of eager fashionistas.  
Fortunately, the main welcome area was filled with so much fun and useful info and activities that even waiting for your next show was pleasurable and rewarding.  The many visitors over the five days (which included Dustin Hoffman, Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis and other celebs) could enjoy complimentary skincare samples, makeup and makeovers courtesy of smashbox, ever-present Evian (keeping guests hydrated with H20 during the often-hot days), hand massages, magazines (thick Zink; celeb-cover-and-coverage In Touch), free week passes to Sports Club LA, and more.  VIP rooms had even more goodies -- comped food, drinks, giftbags with Redken products, even a water-jet massage machine -- but these areas were strictly for L."A.-list"ers, the well-connected, and those who excel at dropping names.
So who is behind all these fashion shows that so many in-the-know-ers want so badly to go to?  One invaluable person who makes everything go off with style is Mally Roncal, Creative Director of the runway shows and spokesperson for leading cosmetics retailer Sephora; she worked behind the scenes with the smashbox makeup team to create designer looks for 36 shows during Fashion Week.   As she was prepping models for the DANANG show, Mally told me that smashbox is "the best" -- not only because the people at the company are "incredibly professional, nice, and cooperative", but because she considers their makeup to be of "superb quality", especially under intense lighting situations.  Ironically, Ms. Roncal says she rarely gets to see the shows she works on, since she is "always on to the next setup".  Not surprising, with so many shows to produce!

But I myself DID get to see the Danang show, the hot ticket that day.  And it delivered; the packed house was transported to Southeast Asia as model after model marched out in fatigue-inspired garb.  In another touch of irony, Mally's marvelous makeup was not as visible because each model's eyes were hidden behind a gauze-bandage-wrap; this naturally shifted the focus to the clothes, and the rhythmic procession of perfect people parading onstage. The climax came when some very-young models (a.k.a. kids) came down the aisle to thunderous applause and snapping cameras.  Attendees, which included popular young actress Dominique Swain, also got gifts of Danang design -- soft plentifully-pocketed canvas bags (not enough for everyone, but the fortunate folks who received one seemed quite pleased).  

Congratulations to Ms. Roncal for her great shows, and to her talented team of artistes, including smashbox's Holly Mordini (TV spokesperson; VP of artistry and education) and Caprice Gray (national makeup artist).  Kudos also to the sponsors of L.A. Fashion Week (see list below).  Special thanks to Sarah Heath at smashbox for her assistance, and congrats to the "Factor founding fathers" -- Dean and Davis Factor -- for making smashbox L.A.'s "innest" hotspot for designers, fashion followers and makeup mavens.  

Finally, extra kudos to Timberland, for their mini makeshift "booth" a few doors down from smashbox. Smart marketing move! Some of the overflow crowds came down to see T'land's latest line of shoes, shirts, jackets and other apparel -- apparently this fine firm realized the prime promotional potential of putting product adjacent to a "fashion happening".  Guests enjoyed free catered delicacies, beer, DJ, and massages, while a few smaller designers also promoted their wares next door to Timberland.  Hopefully other companies will catch on, and use the same creative logic to sponsor even more spinoff activities at future Fashion Weeks to come.
WHAT: L.A. Fashion Week (a.k.a. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)
WHEN: march 29 - april 2, 2004 

WHERE: smashbox studios. 8538 warner drive. culver city, CA 90232

WHO: Designers lloyd klein, rachel pally, coco clicks, 2 b free, maria bianco nero, petro zillia, gen art, karanina, mason by michelle mason, samora, tomer, rami kashou, custo barcelona, pegah anvarian, jenni kayne, J maskrey, monah li, sue wong, naqada, heike jarick, sheri bodell, trina turk, lords, davies, frankie b., MartinMartin, single, john sakalis, editte keshishyan, danang, corey lynn calter, richard tyler, shay todd, joe's jeans, heatherette, eduardo lucero, oligo tissew for oliver twist, susana mercedes, enyce / lady enyce sanctuary, louis verdad.
SPONSORS: mercedes-benz, american express, smashbox cosmetics, sephora, redken, evian, silhouette, bluefish concierge, judith ripka, cotton inc., mondrian, asia de cuba, in touch weekly, zink magazine, ca apparel news.
Don Rose
Entertainment and Technology Writer
Publisher & Editor In Chief, The Rose Review
Writer/Reporter, Radio Parallax, KDVS FM
Freelance Writer (LA SPLASH magazine, NOHO LA newspaper)
[email protected]

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