Ones to Watch

Los Angeles Fashion Week features young designers.

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Los Angeles Fashion Week, which gets under way Thursday, will showcase young designers who look back and look ahead, evoking Old Hollywood, making their clothes with a sense of environmental fragility, and more.

This story first appeared in the October 8, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.


Maxine Dillon, who will show her third collection as part of Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion event on Friday, was an intern for Gen Art alumnae Alicia Lawhon when she was a student, but it was working as a production manager for the Line Society for Rational Dress that really showed her the ropes. “They don’t teach you that stuff when you major in design,” she said. For spring, much of Dillon’s inspiration came from what she wears herself — relaxed dresses with a masculine jacket or vest thrown on top. She also took inspiration from tomboy models like Agyness Deyn, Irina Lazareanu and Erin Wasson. “I like tops that are slightly oversize with skinny jeans or drapy tops with high-waisted shorts, and I like mixing neutrals with one color that pops,” said Dillon, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. The shirts are made from organic cotton gauze, dresses and blouses from a liquid-like silky fabric called Cupro, structured pieces from a cotton-Tencel blend and knits made from organic cotton and recycled polyester. Dillon also designed a custom print in silk charmeuse. Wholesale prices range from $65 to $150 and the line sells at Aero & Co. in Los Angeles and Revolveclothing.com.


Ashley Ann got her start working in the wardrobe department on films such as “The Last Samurai” and playing stylist for her friends. Four years ago, she and a friend started the Clementyne line before Ann decided to go out on her own with Myne. The label, which started out as colorful printed silk tops, sells at Barneys New York, Intermix, Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop. Ann, 26, has grown the collection to include jersey tops and woven ponchos, high-waisted skirts, shorts and dresses. “I try to let the print carry the piece with a simple body,” she said “I don’t like too much ruffle.” Tops wholesale from $50 to $95, skirts from $90 to $100 and dresses from $120 to $150. Myne will present its collection at Switch boutique on Thursday.


There always seems to be a former model in the newest crop of Los Angeles designers, but Sardinia native Valerj Pobega has a track record. During her catwalk days in Rome and Milan, Pobega, 31, also designed the sportswear line Kg363. After moving to Los Angeles with her husband two years ago, Pobega started a high-end line inspired by old Hollywood movies. “Imagine a Greek goddess going to a party in Man Ray’s studio,” she said of her third collection for spring. “It is both surrealistic and typical of the shapes worn in ancient Greece.” The 12 intricately pleated, dyed and draped silk and chiffon pieces in black, champagne and peach range from $1,000 to $2,500 wholesale. The line is sold exclusively at Presse boutique in Los Angeles and through special order. Pobega will present her third collection at the Downtown Standard on Saturday.


Sisters Becky and Laura Carter said they always have been conscious of their eco footprint, aiming to make fashionable clothes from responsible materials. They started Velvet Leaf in spring 2006, and the line was immediately picked up by the Los Angeles chain Planet Blue, followed by Revolve Clothing, Xin, Atmosphere, Sirens and Sailors and Wasteland. The sisters, whose mother is Native American, have managed to grow the business despite living in different cities. Becky, 23, resides in their hometown of San Francisco, and Laura, 21, lives in Los Angeles. The line of bright color-blocked or geometric printed dresses and jackets has a Fifties and Sixties flair that the Carters adopted from countless days of vintage shopping. “We want to make pieces that women will want to keep forever and wear again and again,” Becky Carter said. “That in itself is eco-conscious.” Prices range from $46 wholesale for a tank top to $200 for dresses. Velvet Leaf will present its spring collection at the Gen Art and Soyjoy Fashionably Natural show on Thursday.


The San Francisco-based, British designer referenced the past and the future for spring 2009 — her fourth collection — which she will show at the Tschida Kabat Entertainment Group loft space in Hollywood on Oct. 16. “It’s a combination of youth and maturity, with a wearability that makes women feel fabulous,” she said. A black skirt with woven detail, for example, is traceable to Shepherd’s relatives in Germany and India. The expertly finished, tailored men’s wear-inspired pieces, such as a high-collared waistcoat, reflect her training at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Academy of Art. In between the two fashion schools, Shepherd, who is in her late 30s, worked in advertising and lived in New York, Baltimore and Washington. The line, which starts at $100 wholesale for simple tops and ranges to $2,000, retails at Modern Appealing Clothing and Eco Citizen in San Francisco.

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