By  on June 4, 2007

NEW YORK — A dash of fashion, fantasy and underground-edge lingerie set the stage for the recent Between the Sheets runway show that pulled in an eclectic mix of industry executives, student designers and lingerie-loving club goers at Studio Mezmor.

Layla L"obatti, a graduate of the intimate apparel program at the Fashion Institute of Technology here, who created and organized the show, said the goal was to "give young designers a chance to channel their fantasies, desires and dreams into collections which are shown in a real-life setting, building their confidence, exposure and networking skills as they head out into the competitive world of fashion."

While the show, which took place May 11, served as a potential stepping stone for the 15 student designers and recent graduates of FIT, its purpose also was to provide exposure for new talent at a time when retailers and manufacturers are looking for new ideas, concepts and exclusive brands and products, said the 22-year-old L"obatti, who is also president of Between the Sheets Inc., a marketing firm.

L"obatti said she works on a shoestring budget to pull the show together, noting: "The models and hairstylists work for free because they are all trying to build their portfolios. All of the designers sell tickets to friends and family for $20 at the door, and $15 for prepaid tickets, and then there are split admissions — a mix of the club crowd."

This year"s third edition drew 500 people, around 100 of whom were industry executives, she said.

L"obatti said a key supporter of young talent has been The Underfashion Club Inc., an industry organization.

"I was a scholarship recipient of the Underfashion Club during my senior year at FIT, where they funded $15,000 for me," she said. "The club is very good as a networking tool for manufacturing, sourcing and jobs."

Addressing future projects, L"obatti said: "I"m looking to do smaller events, maybe at a boutique or club. The next step is, if a young designer is more aggressive and serious about doing a single show, I would work with them. It would be an opportunity to invite potential investors, maybe buy a name. There are a lot of opportunities and approaches that haven"t been explored before. I believe a lot of these girls could start out designing right away."

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