By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Celebrities might be flocking to the front rows of this week's London Fashion Week shows, but some designers are swapping the runway for Hollywood's awards season red carpets as the fashion world seeks new ways to draw attention.
Ahead of Sunday's Oscars ceremony, the most-watched entertainment event around the world, Hollywood has been the setting for numerous fashion events.
British designer Stella McCartney threw a party showcasing her latest collection at famed music store Amoeba, Saint Laurent Paris took over The Palladium music venue for its menswear show, Gucci announced a celebrity ambassador and Kenzo debuted a new short film.
"It just feels like a moment when music, film, fashion, the arts, it's all just come together for LA," designer Stella McCartney told Reuters at her presentation, attended by the likes of Katy Perry and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Celebrities and fashion have long had a symbiotic relationship, from Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy to Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Dior.
But Los Angeles traditionally is not regarded as a trend-setting city as the year-round sunny weather doesn't allow seasonal clothing changes as much as fashion capitals New York, Milan, Paris and London.
That notion is slowly changing. In 2012, Saint Laurent Paris moved its Parisian label design studios to Los Angeles. Last year, Tom Ford and Burberry presented star-studded runway shows and Louis Vuitton held an exhibition in Hollywood.
The spotlight on Los Angeles comes at a time when brands are rejigging the runway-to-retail model and making new fashion available faster to customers.
"Runway shows don't have same impact as they once did, mainly because there's so much of it and it's overcrowded," said Eric Wilson, fashion news director of InStyle magazine.
The red carpet, however, is watched by the entire world.
"One red carpet hit at the Oscars is equivalent to a year's worth of marketing for a designer," Wilson said.
Tom Ford last year moved his London Fashion Week presentation, scheduled for after the Oscars, to Los Angeles ahead of the Oscars. He then dressed nominee Reese Witherspoon for film's biggest night.
"The world is even more obsessed with celebrities than ever before," Wilson said. "You'll see more big name designers who are based elsewhere coming to Los Angeles to do events, for the proximity to celebrities."
This year, McCartney has scored numerous hits on Hollywood's red carpets; actress Lawrence donned a black pantsuit at the Oscar nominees luncheon, singer Ellie Goulding wore a blush pink gown to the Grammys and Taraji P. Henson wore a white strapless dress when she won a Golden Globe for TV show "Empire."
At the Grammy awards, Justin Bieber and Beck wore Saint Laurent Paris while British singer Florence Welch, Gucci's new celebrity spokesperson, wore a blush pink dress by the brand on the red carpet.
French brand Kenzo debuted short film "Snowbird" by filmmaker Sean Baker featuring its spring-summer 2016 collection with model-actress Abbey Lee Kershaw, who starred in the Oscar-nominated "Mad Max: Fury Road."
"The weather, the rock and roll-ness of LA, it's an allure especially for the European designers," Kenzo creative director Humberto Leon told Reuters.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler)