By  on June 25, 2008

Turn the spotlight on a new lineup of designers who work myriad moods, from minimal to boho to gently romantic.

HAUTE HIPPIE

BACKSTORY: "I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma," says designer Trish Wescoat Pound. "I didn't even really know that fashion existed." In fact, when she moved to Washington, D.C., after graduating from the University of Kansas, she had high hopes of becoming, as she puts it, "Barbra Streisand in 'The Way We Were.'" "I wanted to go to law school, be in politics and, you know, protest," she recalls. Fate, however, had something different in mind. She ended up in New York and, through a friend, found a temporary job as a receptionist at Calvin Klein. Wescoat Pound subsequently spent eight years at Theory, moving her way up to president of sales for women's, followed by stints at Michael Kors and Laundry by Design.

COLLECTION: Wescoat Pound would like to get one thing clear about her collection's name: it's not "Birkenstocks or crunchy granola fashion," she says. Rather, the designer chose the moniker to evoke Yves Saint Laurent's haute-hippie ethos of the late Seventies. "It's about a bohemian lifestyle," she says. And, indeed, Haute Hippie plays a lot like an ode to the Kate Moss brand of boho-chic — feather vests, allover beaded tunics or dresses covered in geometric stud patterns. Layering is also key to that sensibility, which is why Wescoat Pound has also spun off a second line called Haute Hippie Nude, featuring basic knit tanks, sweaters, cardigans, wraps and leggings.

STATS: Haute Hippie wholesales from $250 to $1,500, while the Nude collection runs from $55 to $350. Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Barneys New York have picked up the lines.

CECILIA PRADO

BACKSTORY:
São Paulo, Brazil-based Cecilia Prado was born to be a designer. After all, she grew up in the industry — her parents founded the Brazilian knitwear company Castor Tricot — and has been surrounded by all things à la mode since birth. "That's why I came to fashion," says Prado. "I identified myself with it and couldn't miss the chance to take advantage of all the structure I had available." After graduating with a degree in fashion management from the university of Anhembi Morumbi, also in São Paulo, Prado joined the family business. In 2006, however, she decided to launch her own collection within the Castor Tricot company.COLLECTION: The line's focus is knitwear, but don't think cozy winterwear. Her knits are made from cotton, which gives everything a much lighter hand. Colorful patchwork prints, ethnic embroideries and bold nature-inspired patterns lend the collection an extra dose of charm. Two cases in point: a cap-sleeve shift featuring a giant butterfly graphic in purple and lavender hues and a draped, fringed top with a spray of trompe l'oeil feathers down the front.

STATS: Wholesale prices average $145 for dresses and $199 for long sweaters. The Cecilia Prado collection will be carried this fall at New York's Cantaloup and Blueberi boutiques and the Florida store Marissa Collections.

OBAKKI

BACKSTORY: As wife of Ryan Peake, the lead guitarist of the alternative band Nickelback, one imagines Treana Peake as living the life of hard-partying rock stardom. Instead, the Vancouver native has proven herself to be quite an entrepreneur. In 1993, she helped start up ICA Canada (International Children's Awareness), a charity with which she's still intimately involved and, in 2005, launched the line Obakki as a platform for local designers. "There's talent all around us," says Peake. "It just requires some sort of business model and exposure." Obakki, moreover, has its own manufacturing company called The Studio — no outsourcing here — and Peake makes its services available to other neighboring designers. This year, the collection enters the U.S. market.

COLLECTION: "Rustic luxury" is the way Peake describes her line. "It's refined yet comfortable and classic," she says. And, indeed, the collection reads as citywear with a relaxed vibe — loosely cut tops, jackets and dresses with gathered or draped detailing. As for the name Obakki, it's a play on the Japanese word for transformation. "Our style is constantly evolving each season," Peake explains, adding, however, that she ultimately picked the name for its phonetic appeal.

STATS: The collection is available at Takashimaya in New York, Stanley Korshak in Dallas and She in Chicago, and wholesales from $70 for an asymmetric T to $675 for stretch lambskin pants.Min Young Lee

BACKSTORY: Min Young Lee is no stranger to the fashion game. She launched her first collection back in 1997 as a fresh-faced Parsons student and found herself catapulted to the top — she was selling to Fred Segal and Barneys New York and even opened up her own Prince Street boutique. But then 9/11 hit, her relationship with her business partner dissolved and the South Korean found herself closing up shop in 2003. "A lot of my friends were designing for someone else, so I decided to go corporate," Lee recalls. "You know what they say about the grass being greener." Before that could happen, though, Christiane Celle of Calypso — coincidentally, the first retailer to pick up her line in 1997 — snapped her up for herself. When the company was bought by Solera Capital LLC last year, however, Lee opted to go off on her own.

COLLECTION: Min Young Lee is a far cry from the Fifties-style offerings of her first label. It's more in tune with her work at Calypso — laid-back resort-bound dressing with a flirty feminine appeal. To wit, the lineup ranges from breezy kimono dresses cut in fuchsia florals to easy crochet knits and slender coats in hand-embroidered graphics.

STATS: Shopbop.com, Henri Bendel and Planet Blue have all picked up the line, which wholesales from $50 for a washed viscose T to $280 for a hand-embroidered sequined dress.

PHOTOS BY PASHA ANTONOV; MODELS: ANASTASIA PRETROVA AND ELIZABETH BERT, BOTH AT FUSION; HAIR BY YUKI YAMAZAKI USING PHYTO FOR THE ARTISTLOFTNYC.COM; MAKEUP BY BRYAN LYNDE/RJ BENNETT REPRENTS; FASHION ASSISTANT: ALEXANDRA CASEY; STYLED BY MAYTE ALLENDE; YOUNG LEE PORTRAIT BY GEORGE CHINSEE

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