LOS ANGELES — Power dressing has a new champion in Monika Chiang.
The striking 5-foot, 9-inch design rookie — whose namesake brand is being backed by J. Christopher Capital LLC, owned by Christopher Burch, who is also Chiang’s boyfriend — unveiled her debut fall collection Tuesday here and it isn’t for women with demure wardrobes. Tough-and-sexy is Monika Chiang’s viewpoint, with studs, spikes, tassels and daggers as signature motifs, and heels rising above six inches, boots stretching into leggings and leather used generously.
The initial collection contains roughly 30 handbags, 20 shoe offerings, 15 jewelry pieces, five lingerie styles and 30 apparel items, including jeans in skinny, embellished skinny and boyfriend varieties, loose and fitted T-shirts in a silk modal blend, and leather pants, jackets and miniskirts. Prices range from $145 to $1,875 for clothes, $85 to $495 for jewelry, $225 to $995 for shoes, and $145 to $925 for bags.
Chiang asserted she wanted to fill the debut collection with staples from her closet, which admittedly isn’t like everybody’s, such as a great motorcycle jacket, a comfortable sweater (she designed a ripped cashmere sweater with a cotton lining to give the feeling of the worn sweaters she borrows from Burch) and statement necklaces and rings. “I keep all of my clothes, and I’m not really into trends and fast fashion. I would love for women to keep the shirts and sweaters, and layer as the years go by,” she said.
Early in the development of the Monika Chiang brand, she aimed for a designer price point, but thought premium contemporary was more appropriate to reach consumers in today’s difficult economic environment.
Chiang expects handbags and shoes to be the most popular first purchases when consumers are introduced to the brand. Texture is a theme in the fall handbag assortment with python, suede accented with whip stitching and snakeskin. The shoes all attempt to give women some height because Chiang believes height is empowering; even the sneakers and flats have hidden heels.
Although she sketched clothes frequently as a child, Chiang left the designing up to her mother and sister — both Parsons The New School for Design graduates — until deciding to launch Monika Chiang. “There was something about it I wanted to get away from, but I’ve come full circle,” she said. What she lacks in design experience, she’s made up for as a consumer. “I’ve had a lot of experience shopping,” said Chiang, who points out that shopping has given her an understanding of what’s available for women and at what price.
The Monika Chiang brand will get a permanent home on Sept. 23 when the company’s first store on Robertson Boulevard here opens. Chiang said the 1,300-square-foot store is divided into four rooms with different merchandise. A New York store is set to open in October on Wooster Street in SoHo.
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