LAFW Returns With New Owners and a New Agenda
If you’ve been around long enough, you probably recall the early days of Los Angeles Fashion Week with either a fond smile or a roll of the eyes.
Along with the city that plays host to the event, LAFW has come a long way. And now it’s poised to become even more dynamic and impactful, thanks to new owners N4XT Experiences, who acquired the license from Arthur Chipman and partners in January and will present the first show under their direction beginning Oct. 6.
The California Apparel News caught up with LAFW’s new president, Ciarra Pardo, to find out what to expect for this fall and beyond.
CAN: This fall’s LAFW is billed as a relaunch. How so?
Ciarra Pardo: It’s a considerably reimagined experience. I’ve been in the industry almost 20 years and was formerly chief creative officer at Fenty, for example, which I started with Rihanna from the ground up. What for me was most exciting was figuring out how to explore Los Angeles in a way that hadn’t been done before. I’ve been doing fashion weeks in Paris, Milan, London and New York, and this was the chance to integrate other really important pillars into our fashion week. So in our “reimagination” we have included fashion, beauty, sustainability and technology into all of our events.
CAN: Give us a taste of what we should expect.
CP: For years fashion has really been held up by beauty brands, but they’ve never actually been given a full seat at the table. So for us it was figuring out a way to truly integrate brands and activations. The same with sustainability. If we don’t do everything in a more sustainable way we’re just headed in a really bad direction. We’ve partnered with Eco-Age to make sure everything we’re doing is sustainable, and hopefully in the next few years every partner and brand has some stake in sustainability. Sponsor Mercedes-Benz of LA, for example, is launching their new EQ fully electric car with us.
As for technology, it’s integrating itself into everything we do to figure out faster, more-cost-effective and more-sustainable ways of creating products. When I was at Fenty, we chose to launch Savage at a warehouse in Brooklyn with a 13-foot hologram of Rihanna that changed outfits every few seconds, and it was my introduction to launching something with fashion and technology collaborating to create a really cool experience. That’s our intention with LAFW.
CAN: It sounds like you’re taking a broader kind of lifestyle approach. Is there any concern that the collections will be overshadowed?
CP: Absolutely not. For example, An Only Child by Maxwell Osborne is debuting his fully upcycled brand with us on opening night, and we’ve managed to figure out really organic ways of bringing collaborations to life. Gypsy Sport is using our Lighthouse Immersive location and is bringing in the tech element. From what I’ve seen, all the brands are really excited about having a new way of playing.
CAN: Speaking of excitement, producing your first show I assume has been exciting, exhausting and terrifying?
CP: Yes, all of the above. But I think we got really lucky with our venue system, including Lighthouse Immersive and Citizen News just around the corner, where we’ll be hosting seminars and fireside chats in an amazing creator’s-suite experience. The Edition Hotel is where Fleur du Mal will be hosting its 10-year anniversary, which will be a beautiful experience in the Sunset Room. Making it amazing without being too big has been a really interesting balancing act, but I can say that April is already shaping up to be something even way bigger.
CAN: Today, suburban young people look as apocalyptic as ever, and COVID taught professionals they could stay in their pajama bottoms and do everything over Zoom. What is the present role of fashion in the broader culture?
CP: A lot of trend makers, influencers and creators are based here in California, and L.A. has gone through a beautiful renaissance post-COVID. New York has always been the trend maker when it comes to fashion, but the world has changed.
CAN: But runway shows typically show couture—beautiful dresses made by hand. Is there still the desire to be elegant?
CP: We all want to feel beautiful and have those show-stopping moments at one time or another. But the old world has shape shifted so much that you now have couture brands doing collaborations with athleticwear brands. It’s not like before, where it was couture and then everything else. Now there’s more space and room to play, and I’m looking forward to seeing what trends emerge.