The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After films, LA hardsells fashion

Los Angeles, March 22 (Reuters): The capital of the movie industry may finally be gaining the respect it craves from fashion watchers this week, as it rolls out its home-grown talent in an eclectic series of runway shows.

With 35 shows over a week-long period, Los Angeles Fashion Week aims to celebrate local designers ' from the innovative tailoring of Louis Verdad to red carpet favourite Kevan Hall to jeans makers Rock & Republic and Antik Denim ' with various others from New York and the UK in the mix for good measure.

“I support (Los Angeles Fashion Week) because there are some really great designers,” Courtney Love, wearing a textured beige suit at the Agent Provocateur show, said. “I’m a local girl,” she explained.

Behind the glitz, the paparazzi, the hangers-on and the models carrying Chihuahuas is a push to expose designers in this city ' already the second-largest US apparel market behind New York ' to a broader audience and increase sales.

“It’s all about getting stuff on the backs of customers,” said Fern Mallis, vice president of IMG Fashion, which produces the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios in Culver City near Los Angeles. “That’s what every fashion week is about.”

Cher, singer Love, a platinum blond Christina Aguilera and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ frontman Anthony Kiedis took in the Los Angeles runway debut of London-based lingerie line Agent Provocateur on Monday night.

The collection opened on a wedding theme, as a veiled model in an ivory brassiere and garter tossed her bouquet at her similarly attired bridesmaids in shades of pink, blue and peach. Later, leggy models in thongs and tasselled pasties strutted the catwalk with whips in hand.

At Morphine Generation also on Monday, skinny black denim jeans and coats and capes with distressed seams and hems took the stage, while Kara Saun, a runner-up from the reality television series Project Runway, showcased a collection of satin-backed crepe gowns with turn-of-the-century high collars and puffed sleeves, cinched with Japanese obi belts.

In Los Angeles, clothing that is decidedly more casual than usually seen on the European or New York runways is often overshadowed by the stars being photographed in the front rows.

“The celebrity thing is a major component,” said Mallis, adding that designers only stand to benefit from their presence. “The celebrity partnership in fashion has been very important for many years.”

Fittingly, socialite Paris Hilton with sister Nicky, Friends star Matthew Perry and Carmen Electra were in the front row at Louis Verdad’s predominantly black and white collection on Sunday night.

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