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Like every other pixie-dust sprinkled aspect of the red carpet lifestyle, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox was a glitzy, celebrity studded affair defined by beautiful people, fabulous clothes, and sizzling rumors. At Los Angeles shows, unlike those in other fashion capitals, the famous faces in the front rows are as much of a measure of success as runway reviews. Hence, the infamous studs, smoldering big screen temptresses, world renowned rock stars, and movie honchos that make appearances in Culver City have the power to make or break fashion careers.

Every year without fail, the biggest names in the industry show up to support LA’s “it girl” Jenni Kayne, Frankie B.’s talented Daniella Clarke, Rock & Republic’s bad boy Michael Ball, Madonna’s couturier Louis Verdad and 2 B Free’s eccentric French duo Cedric & Yves Benaroch. This year was no exception. Jenni Kayne’s guest list, which included Robert Downey Jr., Lara Flynn Boyle, and Anthony Kiedis, was glamorous enough to rival a VMA line-up.

Robert Downey (fashion royalty by association, for he used to be an item with American fashion goddess Sarah Jessica Parker) chatted away with Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Kiedis, who recently published his memoir Scar Tissue. Sitting a few rows away, Lara Flynn Boyle (frequently criticized by the media for her emaciated appearance) looked surprisingly vibrant and healthy. After the defile de mode, Lara, who rediscovered happiness in the arms of a young singer beau after ending her tumultuous relationship with Hollywood’s legendary Casanova, Jack Nicholson, gushed to the press, “This is the only show I am going to. Jenni is a friend of mine. I love her work!”

Rock & Republic shows are famed for their exuberant energy, unrepentant irreverence and theatrical essence. However, the A-list names bejeweling the audience at the R&R spectacles is always more thrilling than the fondling, kissing, drinking and smoking displayed on the catwalk. This year Paris Hilton, the notorious heiress/reality star/author/model/party girl whose face has become synonymous with LA Fashion Week, was conspicuously absent from the festivities. In fact, the only event the blond bombshell with a taste for risqué chose to attend was the Rock & Republic extravaganza. Whether striking a pose with rap sensation Eve or text messaging with her custom made, Swarowski crystal encrusted Side Kick II, Paris stole the limelight. Even the former Spice Girl wife of England’s new generation metrosexual sex divinity Davis Beckham (aka Becks) could not attract the kind of attention the Simple Life VIP commanded. Mrs. Beckham was recently quoted as saying, “I’m using my brain for the first time in a long time,” in reference to her new venture designing jeans for Rock & Republic. In L.A. she appeared to be enjoying her new-found role on the creative side. The R&R runway show itself was wild (as usual), but it paled in comparison to the outrageously madcap afterparty that followed.

2 B Free’s urban chic creations adorned with graffiti, tattoo prints, orchids, roses, butterflies, embroideries, and metal ornaments are incredibly popular with rock n’ roll glam hipsters. New generation faces like Tara Reid, Owen Wilson, Stephen Dorff, Alyssa Milano and Haylie Duff can't seem to get enough of the Benaroch brothers’ creations. Sitting next to her baseball player boyfriend Barry Zito at the 2 B Free show, the WB’S adorable good witch Alyssa Milano seemed to have forgotten about her disappointing breakup with former boy-band member turned solo success Justin Timberlake. Similarly love struck were Stephen Dorff (his rock hard abs were recently featured in Star Magazine’s top 25 beach bodies alongside Sean Penn and Cameron Diaz) and his new leading lady. Quintessential wild child Owen Wilson on the other hand arrived to the venue solo as if to announce all the beautiful ladies out there that he is single and available. To conclude the 2 B Free runway madness Tara Reid, whose recent falling out with “Teenage Drama Queen” Lindsay Lohan has been preoccupying the media, hosted an invite only 2 B Free bash. Tara’s celebration, which was held at a private residence (the location was not disclosed until the last minute) simply rocked!

The Brigitte Bardot-inspired collection dreamed up for Frankie B. by Daniella Clarke was viewed by R&B superstar Macy Gray, TV personality Jillian Barberie and soap opera star Lisa Rinna. Looking strikingly marginal in her trademark baggy pants and crochet hat, Gray exuded an incredibly down to earth aura marked by a laid back attitude. In contrast, Lisa Rinna exuded a razor sharp style and refined polish.

This past year Pegah Anvarian’s gold-ring silk jersey top graced more rap music videos than the Aston Martin. In line with her work’s extraordinary popularity, Pegah pulled in huge names like U2’s Edge, ‘Til Death Do Us Part’s Carmen Electra, and the OC’s Samaire Armstrong to her Spring 2005 show. The Edge was surprisingly humble and shy, despite the magnitude of his fame, and sat in the front row trying to hide under his trademark hat. Carmen on the other hand smiled and posed for the cameras and answered questions with an endearing charm.

Having done away with the tasteless excess that formerly plagued her style, Mrs. Navvaro looked elegant and graceful.

Finally, Shar Jackson, (Britney Spears’ back-up dancer husband Kevin Federline’s ex) was there to applaud Pegah’s junior collection. Dressed in a demure two piece suit Ms. Jackson looked poised and confident.

Attending the cocktail party thrown by Rebecca Beeson were socialite pals Niky Hilton and Bijou Phillips. Niky, whose shotgun wedding to New York City money manager Todd Meister ended as abruptly as it happened glowed in a crimson top. Conspicuously absent from the mix was Paris, who was allegedly seen kissing her ex brother-in-law in a NY hotspot. Could the formerly inseparable Hilton sisters be on the outs?

Regardless of the overarching palpability of the celebrity factor, overall the LA fashion scene is fun, colorful and relatively casual. Under the temporary spell of the dimmed lights, in the lingering moment right before the first model walks onto the runway, we all (movie stars and everyday people alike) cease to exist in the world of mediocrity and shabbiness. Our beating hearts meld together in the land of OZ, where the world revolves around style, and we all morph into unapologetic fashionistas.



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