Beverly Hills Fashion Festival Joins Roster of Post-IMG Upstarts

By Alesandra Dubin November 12, 2010, 3:30 PM EST

Photo: Studio JLK

On Saturday, a day of festivities known as the Beverly Hills Fashion Festival took to that famous shopping city. It was one more new entrant into the category of organized fashion festivities in town, which have been popping up en masse, especially since the partnership between IMG and Smashbox Studios dissolved.

Producing the debut event was the MLB Group, formed last year by partners Motty Reif, Leanna Lewis, and Barbara Graff to produce fashion, entertainment, and media events. “Our company identified a need to showcase fashion where it is worn—in Beverly Hills and on the red carpet,” said Graff. “The first [incarnation] of any endeavor is always a challenge. You share your vision and look for stakeholders to support and believe in you. We were fortunate to find those entities, which included our designers and sponsors.”

Graff, the former West Coast fashion director for Women's Wear Daily, noted that the Beverly Hills Fashion Festival differs from some other attempts at a cohesive L.A. Fashion Week in part because it's primarily a consumer event. “It's a hybrid event that satisfies the public’s curiosity and interest in fashion while providing a showcase for new design of interest to retailers, stylists, and the press. It's consumer-friendly. Our concept brings the glamour of the fashion industry to the public by featuring design collections soon to be delivered to retailers, so the fashion is accessible right away. Additionally, we aim to introduce fashion from international designers and emerging designers to create a sense of discovery for the public, press, and fashion industry insiders.”

The festivities included fashion shows from Elie Tahari, Teresa Rosati, William Rast, and H. Lorenzo, with Ford Models on the runway. Actors Mischa Barton and Paul Sorvino were on hand to give guests a first look at their handbag and art designs, respectively. Pop-up boutiques came from Gypsy 05, Skin by Monica, Per-fekt Beauty, and Custo Barcelona. Beauty and fashion product samples, interactive promotions, food benefiting St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, and signature cocktails by 901 Tequila and KRÖL Vodka rounded out the offerings. A portion of ticket, merchandise, and food sales benefited charities designated by participating designers.

As to the future of the program, Graff said, “The festival is set to add more fashion shows and expand the shopping element that makes our concept relevant to consumers. We will add new components each season as we grow.” She added, “As industry insiders we support an L.A. Fashion Week and wish much success to [any would-be] organizers.”

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