Leanna Lewis- Creator of Downtown Los Angeles Fashion Week
We will be unstoppable and we will rule Fashion Week”. Some strong words, but nothing Leanna Lewis, the founder of Down Town LA Fashion Week, would joke about. After throwing an amazing event that is still talked about by most of Los Angeles on March 19, Leanna and her team are ready to conquer the fashion world one fantastic show at a time. Originally from Los Angeles, Leanna lived in New York and thrived for 6 years working for one of the leading fashion houses in the city. She had many shows under her belt, including Chanel, Hugo Boss and Donna Karan when certain circumstances (and perhaps a bit of nostalgia!) drew her back to Los Angeles. “ I love New York and think its a wonderful place but LA is my home and to do LA Fashion Week, we just need to make it LA style”. By focusing on what our city is all about, she believes will be the road to her success. Sure, throwing events isn’t cheap, she admits she had to dab into her own pocket to throw Evening of 20th Century Glamour. Her two assistants, Maggie Hawkins and Lara Gallagher have to agree. “It was definitely worth it though, to hear all those people say how amazing the event was, we worked hard and got the recognition”, says Lara. “Our biggest challenge was aligning ourselves with the right people. We met amazing people who at the end of the day gave us everything and didn’t expect anything back” , adds Maggie. It can’t hurt that working with Leanna is very drama-less. “She is always so happy, she’ll just start singing and dancing!”. Her urge to dance might be a result of being married to one of Los Angeles’ hippiest DJs who runs an entertainment DJ company called Mixology Inc. Having two children under 2 years old and keeping up with her job is not easy, but it can be done, she admits. “I give mothers so much credit because we are the ultimate multi-taskers”.
One of Leanna’s biggest passions is Vintage, which is why she chose to show Cameron Silver of Decades at the Evening of 20th Century Glamour. It had a great turn out with attendees like Nicole Richie, Nicky Hilton and Marisa Tomei among many others. It was no surprise that many starlets made an appearance. After all, the one of a kind vintage pieces from Decades including Chanel and Christian Dior were ravishing and timeless- no one could afford to miss this show. “I’m not here to promote everyone that wants to do a fashion show, I’m here to promote those that are passionate and love what they do”, stresses the show producer. With the event benefiting MOCA, Leanna really appealed to the charitable. Its no surprise that she loves doing charity events. It has been something she has gotten a chance to do many times before. Once, while doing an event in Boston for Chanel, she even had to employ some homeless men, after realizing the set up crew was not reserved and she had no labor. “They did such a great job and the event ended up being very successful”.
I can see that Leanna is confident and believes she handles her job very well. “I think I’m an amazing producer, I thought this is going to be my goal, to bring Fashion Week Downtown”. No one can argue after attending her last event, that she will accomplish this goal in no time. With the October Fashion Week already planned out its hard to doubt that we will be disappointed. Anything from eco-sustainable collections to vintage we are in for some great shows. Of course, when someone is so passionate about what they do, it is easy to put their best energy and work into the project and have it succeed. “When I see the models walking down the runway, and the music begins, it just gives me this burst of energy that fills me with so much joy”, says the creator of DLAFW. Though it was Leanna’s dream and her goals, she insists she could not do any of it without her team. “Lara and Maggie have really stepped up and have contributed to this enormously”.There are still many things to focus on to make sure LA Fashion Week puts our city on that colorful style map.” My inspiration and passion for it was just to get fashion week where the garment industry lives and breathes”. Indeed, it is a place for our local designers to shine. “. There is lots of talent and they go to NY to do show so why not stay here in their own back yard, where you have amazing weather, venues, celebrities and media.”Still one cant help but to wonder why this talented blonde would go through so much trouble, even financing an event from her own pocket to make sure LA is one of the style mavens of the world. “We are here to do a good job and make the designers shine and rise above. Working with them and seeing their amazing collections and the amazing things they put together is my favorite part.” I can tell she is a fashionista just by looking at her perfectly intact bob haircut and no roots showing, which I couldn’t say about my own hair. Add such great experience and you would think Diane Von Furstenberg which Leanna would love to ad to her client list, would be crazy not to want to work with her.
When I ask the ladies what they would tell someone who has the same high dreams, their answers don’t surprise me. “You just have to not be afraid .You just have to be a leader, and make a stand. Make it happen , where there is a will there is a way” says Leanna with a firm tone. Maggie agrees and adds that you have to make a decision to whether to believe in yourself or not, “fear and faith don’t exist in the same place”. Leanna didn’t always get the support she wished for. “There will always be people that will try to bring you down because they are down. You just have to look within yourself and focus and follow through with your dream. People were not supportive when I started with my production, but sometimes you just have to ignore those people, and be determined. I kept moving forward and I did it. Don’t sell yourself short.” Well said.
I can tell Maggie is antsy to jet, and soon enough Leanna politely informs me that she has to be going as well. Even though my notepad has a few more questions I put my pen down and realize we have been chatting for a good hour, way over our scheduled 20 minutes. I thank them for their precious time and make sure that I let them know that LA definitely could be the next NY. Leanna doesn’t hesitate to assure me. “It could be and it should be and it will be. And that is why we are doing this.”