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Downtown to Get 'Glamorama' Major Fashion Event and AIDS Fundraiser Ditches Westside for Broadway

By Ryan Vaillancourt, Staff Writer

June 30, 2010

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Last month, the Los Angeles Film Festival ditched the Westside when it held a 10-day event in Downtown Los Angeles. Last week, officials announced that another high-profile event is jumping to Broadway, ending a 14-year run on the far side of the 405.

Political and business officials on Tuesday revealed that Macy’s Passport Presents Glamorama, a major HIV/AIDS fundraiser, will take over the 2,000-seat Orpheum Theatre on Broadway for nine days as it ramps up for a Sept. 16 show. Bringing the star-studded affair to the Central City is a coup for Downtown boosters.

“It’s big,” said Orpheum owner Steve Needleman, who appeared at a press conference on the morning of June 29 with Councilman José Huizar, Macy’s officials and a group of models. “It’s really well attended. It gets massive media coverage.”

The Passport event benefits two organizations providing services to HIV/AIDS patients: AIDS Project Los Angeles, which advocates for HIV-related public policy, and Project Angel Food, a meal provider and delivery service for those suffering from AIDS, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The show began as an awareness-raising fashion show in a San Francisco Macy’s employee cafeteria in 1982 and has since grown into one of the largest and longest-running AIDS benefits of its kind, according to a company statement. Over the years, the event and the Macy’s Foundation have raised more than $28 million for AIDS services, prevention and research.

The event takes place annually in the Los Angeles area; before the Downtown shift, it was held at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport for 14 years, and Passport fundraisers also take place in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Chicago. In cities other than L.A., the show has followed a format that includes a theater setting, and this year Macy’s sought to lend that style to the show here, said company spokeswoman Melinda Martin.

“We decided this was a year we’d try and standardize that format so we were looking for a theater setting,” Martin said. “The city of Santa Monica and the Barker Hangar have been great, but it does not offer a theater setting.”

The event will feature a fashion show with models wearing outfits from designers including Material Girl, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Just Cavalli and Jezebel/Felina Lingerie, said Dan Douglas, manager of the Macy’s in Eagle Rock. R&B and hip-hop songstress Macy Gray and singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson will headline the show’s musical component.

The announcement marks the latest in a series of high-profile events moving from the Westside to Downtown. The Los Angeles Film Festival just wrapped up its Downtown stint after long being rooted in Westwood. The Barneys New York Warehouse Sale jumped from Santa Monica to the Convention Center in 2009. And after fleeing Downtown for Culver City in 2003, L.A. Fashion Week last year repositioned much of its event programming Downtown.

As for Macy’s Glamorama, Kent Smith, executive director of the Fashion District Business Improvement District, said the event is better off in Downtown.

“For those of us in the industry, we all feel now that the show is where it belongs,” Smith said.

Tickets for the event go on sale Aug. 8 and will be available at macys.com/glamorama.

Contact Ryan Vaillancourt at ryan@downtownnews.com.