By  on August 22, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Although he's Austrian by birth, produces most of his line in Italy and opened his first flagship in Seoul, ready-to-wear designer Christian Weber decided to make Los Angeles his home base because he views the city as a fashion capital.

"All eyes are on L.A., and the creative spirit here is very much an inspiration," he said.

Weber, 34, most recently creative director and brand manager at BCBG Max Azria, launched his own label, CW Christian Weber, last November and already has two seasons, fall-winter 2007 and spring-summer 2008, under his belt. In keeping with Weber's European origins, they were influenced by another enticing locale — Spain. While his first collection explored an arms and armor theme, the second was inspired by the conquistadores.

It's apparent that the six years he spent as part of Donatella Versace's design team have influenced Weber's body-conscious aesthetic, from the constructed bustier dresses to the pleated and draped jersey tops. The 200-piece rtw collection includes everything from dresses and suits to leather and denim as well as bags, belts and shoes, priced at $50 to $300 wholesale.

The clothes have a more tailored, European feel than most locally designed lines, which Weber feels sets his line apart. Even the locally produced denim features seamed bustiers and high-waisted skirts. The color scheme for the first delivery is black, red and gray, and the second is tan, aqua and white.

"I wanted to offer a whole range of high-quality clothing with designer details, but at a more affordable price," Weber said. "Los Angeles doesn't just have to be about denim and T-shirts. I've learned from Max Azria that it's possible to have a designer aesthetic on a global scale here."

Weber estimated first-year sales at $1.5 million.

Instead of diving straight into Hollywood product placement and celebrity dressing, Weber chose to introduce his line in the European and South Korean markets first (his backers are Korean), and is carried in 19 boutiques in Denmark, Norway and Spain.

"I wanted to build a customer base before launching here, but the ultimate goal is to be simultaneously building the brand in multiple nations," he said, adding that he plans to produce full-length versions of three of his dresses for the red carpet. "Of course, part of why it's great to be based here is the proximity to tastemakers in Hollywood. That's a very real part of the business these days."

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