By  on April 4, 2007

Actress and model Noelle Reno, the fiancée of banking heir Matthew Mellon, hopes that her new leisurewear line, Degrees of Freedom, will woo the jet set and those looking for flattering loungewear by bridging the gap between dressing up and dressing down.

"I have a really hard time transitioning from bed to work," said Reno, creative director of the line. "I started looking at something that you can wear to the office on a Friday, but still be chic. I'm from the West Coast, where it's more casual and I really think that's the market that's going to grow."

To boost the style factor of the pieces, Reno worked with Nigel Glasgow, the line's head of design, who designed for Topshop and trained on Savile Row. They worked to create pants in cashmere, jersey and cotton Modal that are cut on the bias "to elongate the figure," Reno said, with a wide cummerbund designed to flatten the stomach.

The 40-piece line includes button-down jersey tops, cashmere bolero jackets and a cashmere opera coat. Branding is limited to a small logo etched onto fabric or printed on sterling silver tags on zippers. Wholesale prices range from $18 for a cotton top up to $500 for the cashmere opera coat, which Reno said Victoria Beckham had her eye on when they flew back to London together from the Oscars.

"She said ‘That's fabulous,'" said Reno. "That was another reason we came up with the line — it's nice to have cashmere when you're flying — the blankets can be so icky and scratchy."

With an address book full of A-list chums, Reno and Mellon, who is chief executive officer and financial backer for the label, said their initial marketing efforts will center on placing the line with celebrities.

"The best way to advertise is to get people photographed — next year we'll be at Sundance with the line," said Reno.

However, Reno acknowledged that while a high social profile and Mellon's fashion experience — he is the former husband of Tamara Mellon, founder of Jimmy Choo, and owned the men's footwear brand Harrys before selling it to The Atelier Fund this year — may bring valuable contacts, it can also bring high expectations."I think it's good and bad," said Reno. "A lot of people want to see someone who has a profile fail, [and] people are more critical. They'll look at us coming right out of the gate and judge it. But it does help having access to celebrities. People pay attention."

Mellon declined to give sales predictions, adding, "I'm a big believer in getting your foot in the door, so in each market buyers can go into stores and see the product."

The line will be sold at Fred Segal in Los Angeles and Villa Moda in Kuwait, and the duo are talking to premium department stores and boutiques in the U.S. and the U.K. Reno and Mellon said they would tailor their offer to different retailers. They have already produced one-off, embellished jackets for Villa Moda.

Mellon also said they're eyeing store locations on Elizabeth Street in Belgravia, London, and Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Reno said her own acting career was on hold while the line grows. "I'll work 16 hours a day on this, until it's right," she said.

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