LOS ANGELES — Todd Magill’s days of wine and roses — or the fashion equivalent of assistants and stock options — are a mere memory.
For the former head designer at Mossimo Inc., his newest venture fulfills a lifelong dream: designing his own line. With the financial backing from Henry Hirschowitz and Jenny Graham, the husband-and-wife owners of Velvet T-shirt, Magill launched Wyeth at the recent Fashion Coterie, an ambitious 120-piece contemporary collection that offers vintage-inspired pieces that don’t scream Hollywood casual or resemble the region’s peppier fare. Instead, the cashmere capelet sweaters, tropical wool pleated skirts, drapy silk charmeuse blouses with a gathered back, flowing tweed coats and petticoat pinstripe skirts evoke an antiquarian, New York aesthetic, as if they should be worn with Emma Hope’s brocade, buckled slippers.
“We’re not going after trends,” Magill said. “Like the name, which has a classic, old-world feel, we wanted to create a line of clothing with more thoughtful details and tailored silhouettes.”
Leather buttons, discharged screen prints, interior waistband details such as floral trims and jersey-lined blouses are among Wyeth’s touches. The line uses cottons and Italian wools and wholesales for $75 for tops, $135 for pants and $220 for the silk chiffon dresses. Produced in Los Angeles and benefiting from Velvet’s infrastructure, such as its cutting facility located in the Northridge neighborhood, Wyeth still is a lean operation. Its roughly nine employees consist of pattern makers, sample sewers and administrators.
“Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of running around, but it’s exhilarating to touch every piece of this process,” said Magill, looking a bit peaked in his holey Rogan jeans, corduroy blazer from Japan and split-toe socks worn with sandals.
The time was right to break out for the 33-year-old, who has already filled a résumé with designing duties at Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Jeans and Iceberg. He started with Mossimo in 2000 when the Santa Monica-based company inked an exclusive licensing deal with Target, learning the art of cost-cutting and creating cheap-chic fashions. And, with a stint as co-owner of the Steinberg & Sons boutique in Los Feliz in late 2001, he feels his résumé is ready for its next entry.“I think my experiences have really prepared me for the rigors of this moment,” he said.
For Hirschowitz and Graham, the partnership allows their $8 million company to pursue another creative outlet without distracting from the core business of producing soft, gauzy knit shirts and wovens that are carried by Barneys New York, Planet Blue in Santa Monica and Harvey Nichols.
It’s those relationships Hirschowitz hopes will lead to distribution for Wyeth. He expects the line to pull in $1 million in its first year, with projections of $5 million in 2005.
“We’re giving him carte blanche and want to build it slowly,” he said. “The contemporary business has exploded and we think this will hit a niche that’s not being served — away from casual.”
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