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Macy's Passport Heads to Orpheum Theatre in Downtown L.A.

By Alison A. Niederk

June 29, 2010

Macy's Passport has a new name and a new home at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

After 14 years on the city's Westside, Macy's Passport—now called Macy's Passport Presents Glamorama—will move to downtown Los Angeles for its Sept. 16 event. And the Passport after-party will be held at the California Market Center.

"This is huge for downtown," said Kent Smith, executive director of the Los Angeles Fashion District Business Improvement District.

The announcement was made at a June 29 press conference at the Orpheum. Among the attendees were Smith, Jessica Wethington McLean, executive director of Bringing Broadway Back, Dan Douglas, manager of the Macy's Eagle Rock Plaza store, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, Robert Bauer, Project Angel Food board member and Steve Needleman, owner of the Orpheum Theatre and president and chief executive officer of Anjac Fashion Buildings.

Other attendees included Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, Cynthia Ruiz, president of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Carol Schatz, president and chief executive officer of the Central City Association and Joanne Lee, senior vice president of the California Market Center.

The September event will raise funds for AIDS Project Los Angeles and Project Angel Food. For 28 years, Macy's has been raising funds for HIV/AIDS research and education through its Passport events in San Francisco, Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Over the years, the event has raised more than $28 million.

The star-studded event will feature two headliner performances by Grammy-winner Macy Gray and singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson—and, of course, plenty of fashion, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Just Cavalli, Jezebel and Marc by Marc Jacobs.

In recent years, Macy's Passport has been held at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Calif. But Milinda Martin, Macy's vice president of media relations and cause marketing, said Passport's events in Chicago and Minneapolis are held in historic theaters.

"We wanted to see if we could create that energy in L.A.," she said, adding, "We're excited to be part of downtown fashion and to do what we can to raise the visibility of Los Angeles as a fashion center."

Assisting in the effort to bring the event downtown was Bringing Back Broadway and Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar.

Bringing Back Broadway is an initiative to revitalize the historic movie theaters surrounding Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.

"It's a 10-year plan to bring back many of the theaters on this corridor and once again make Broadway the heart of Los Angeles," he said.

The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1926. Needleman renovated the space in 2001, restoring many of the building's original architectural features. He said the partnership with Macy's came about quickly, adding, "There are not a lot of 2,000-seaters [in downtown]."

As a second-generation member of the fashion community, he said hosting such a high-profile fashion event also held sentimental value.

"Being born and raised in this industry, this is something that touches my heart."