Browse all

Is Los Angeles the new fashion capital of America?

A new hub of luxury, design but also fashion imagery

Is Los Angeles the new fashion capital of America? A new hub of luxury, design but also fashion imagery

The Golden Globes last weekend opened the red carpet season, culminating on March 11 with the Oscars ceremony. The event not only marked a robust comeback of star power after the summer strikes but also a resurgence of red carpet fashion. Now, as the novelty of "pure" influencers diminishes, major fashion brands are betting on more traditional celebrities: actors, singers, and athletes. Incidentally, the city where these celebrities converge at the highest level is Los Angeles, which throughout the past year has become one of the new focal points for the global fashion industry in America, displacing the primacy of New York, whose secondary position compared to European fashion capitals is now a sadly acknowledged fact. This year, brands like Celine, Chanel, Versace, and Balenciaga have organized their fashion shows in key locations of the city. Louis Vuitton brought the Crafting Dreams appointment exhibition, Gucci opened its first Salon, and presented its eveningwear collection at the LACMA Gala. Bottega Veneta used the urban center as the backdrop for the Ready-Made campaign with Kendall Jenner and A$AP Rocky. Zegna launched its collaboration with The Elder Statesman with an event in September; brands like Amiri, Fear of God, ERL, Phipps, and The Elder Statesman all revolve around the City of Angels, establishing their status more and more, season after season. Last year, the Los Angeles Fashion Week also returned with new organization and a lineup of new names, including Sergio Hudson and Luis De Javier, whose creations have appeared frequently on recent red carpets, as well as Imitation of Christ and Theophilio – raising the question: Is Los Angeles the new capital of American fashion?

Even though recently the two "continental" fashion trends in Europe and North America have taken different paths, and locally sought-after brands are not widespread in the other, already last year, Los Angeles had become a hot spot on the fashion map thanks to the rise of its designers, the itinerant shows of Dior, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton, and the multitude of activations by many brands. It seems that moment has returned when Hedi Slimane moved the Saint Laurent style office to the city, and Tom Ford organized a show rivaling the Oscars. What has happened recently, though, is that brands have found in the city not only a strong concentration of wealth and luxury consumers but also an entire ecosystem of celebrities, stylists, events, and creatives living symbiotically with fashion, red carpet attire, photoshoots, and campaigns. They all feed off each other's visibility in an almost perfect circle.

@nicolemainwar Their outfits are out of this world @Netflix #sellingsunsetnetflix #sellingsunsetoutfits #christinequinnstyle #amanzasmith #chelsealazkani original sound - Nicole

And if the equation celebrity=sales is today's divine proportion of fashion, the global capital of celebrity has become a much more aspirational and effective stage than New York to showcase the spectacle of wealth – think of series like The Kardashians, Selling Sunset, or even The Idol, which is essentially an uninhibited ode to the rich, decadent, and famous Los Angeles. But it's not just entertainment: consider the pop appeal of events like Frieze Art Fair and festivals like Coachella, as well as the social success of showrooms like Silver League and Middleman Store, which have laid the foundation for modern archival fashion culture (it existed before, but in a more niche way and certainly without the enthusiastic participation of the younger generation and the rap scene) or Midcentury LA, which has brought social media attention back to vintage furniture. The feeling, for an outsider, is that of a young scene, a vital culture not bogged down in an establishment so old and ingrained as to have become inevitable and stifling.

It is noteworthy that this shift occurred, in hindsight, after the pandemic, when the pop imaginary desired an informal and relaxed lifestyle, spacious and comfortable spaces away from the city's concrete, as well as mild climates and convenient opportunities. Nevertheless, this shift has demonstrated something else: in 2015, discussing this same topic with Vice, designer John Elliott had said that New York's primacy was unassailable due to the "institutions and infrastructures" of the Big Apple. Today, things have changed. Indeed, traditionally, New York has the editors and publications while Los Angeles has the stars and studios. Perhaps that's the truth: New York was more important as long as the press played a significant role. Now that celebrity and visibility are everything, and the press plays an accessory and instructional role in fashion, Los Angeles is the new capital. Especially since the sense of aristocracy that denotes the New York imagery has gone out of fashion in favor of the democratic, sunny California atmosphere.