By  on August 23, 2007

A former software engineer, Audrey McLoghlin does not have a typical fashion designer's background. But she's right in step with the artful spirit of many newcomers slated to exhibit at next week's Project trade show in Las Vegas.

The founder of Aude Knits, a one-year-old Los Angeles-based company, McLoghlin will show her luxury tanks, Ts and lightweight sweaters and dresses that wholesale from $24 to $62. She is expecting her Hepburn dress, a micro Modal jersey number to be among the most popular items.

Also the owner of the UNA boutiques in Los Angeles, McLoghlin said Aude grew out of a need to fill in gaps in her stores. "It is designed from a retailer perspective, offering a color or a sexy neckline not found in other lines," said the upstart designer, who has attended Project as a buyer and is making her debut as a vendor. For spring, Aude is presenting two color stories, one jewel-themed with amethyst, emerald and sapphire tones, and the other a resort palette of blues, grays and whites.

"I apply an analytical way of thinking, breaking things down into pieces, and take a logical approach to dressing and merchandising," said McLoghlin, whose tops have appeared on actress Calista Flockhart on the TV series "Brothers and Sisters."

New York designer Mimi Turner has previously participated in other shows such as Coterie, but wants to attract more retailers at Project. "Our collection is definitely on the edge — a little forward," said Turner, speaking of a lineup that includes silk taffeta day dresses. Some garments come in "slightly neon" shades with contrasting trims, such as a green top with an orange zipper.

"We are girls who wear dresses with Keds," said Turner, whose eight-year-old clothing line is typically made from silks and linens imported from Italy and France, and wholesales for $160 to $175. She is "bananas" over a new polyurethane-coated silk fabric that will be incorporated into her line. "We don't do anything that is supernormal in body structure or fabric."

Amo & Bretti, an L.A.-based knitwear line created by husband-and-wife team Amy Krofchick and Brett Perkins, is known for its cashmere pieces. But now it is venturing into new colors and fabrics, including a Japanese cotton that has a tissue-like weave and an Italian cotton with a metallic coating, that is surprisingly soft to the touch. The collection of tops and dresses for spring will center on whites, sea foam green and berry shades, with wholesale prices of $90 to $165.Line, a Toronto brand created by designers John Muscat and Jennifer Wells, is a knitwear collection built around cashmere and cotton. The brand puts fresh twists on basic pieces by adding a stripe, tweaking a neckline or adding a dash of color. For spring, Line stresses bright colors with a fun, nostalgic feel. Wholesale prices start at $45 for a basic T-shirt and go to $210 for a double-knit cashmere sweater.

Meanwhile, L.A. designer Mia Kim, the former dress director for BCBG Max Azria, has struck out on her own with Hera. The first collection is being readied for holiday. At Project, Hera will show a range of feminine dresses, tops and jumpers for spring and resort that use floral prints and touches of bright color. Wholesale prices run from $89 to $189.

Karen Zambos, whose pieces put a modern spin on vintage looks, will present a full collection with a focus on dresses and tops in bright colors and nautical themes, including a blue-and-white anchor print bubble dress. Wholesale prices for the L.A.-based line go from $29 to $179.

San Francisco-based 49 Sq. Mi., an accessories company that launched late last year, will showcase its spring lineup of handbags and belts. "We are also bringing our existing fall 2007 line for any customer interested in buying 'in season,'" said Piper Hook, vice president of design.

The line, whose name is a nod to the land area that comprises San Francisco, carries wholesale prices of $82 to $368, with core leather styles ranging from $225 to $275. Italian leather, bar tacking, handstitching and hand-hammered signature hardware are the brand's calling cards, although its Artisan group uses no hardware at all.

Hook, a former Gap Inc. designer, chose to show at Project for its mix of quality clothing lines. "We have only been showing at D&A up to now. We really love the apparel partnerships we get at these shows."

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