Three young labels showing during fashion week are ready for their close-ups.
WHITLEY KROS When actress Marissa Ribisi and her friend Sophia Banks, a founding partner of the influential boutique Satine, set out to design a clothing line a year ago, they carefully constructed each aspect of the wearer's personality before creating a single piece. The pair eventually came up with a label — and fictional muse — named Whitley Kros, an amalgam of the names of streets in Ribisi's native Los Angeles and Banks' hometown Sydney, Australia. "She's a self-possessed woman who loves to travel, and write in her journal, and each collection is like what falls out of her suitcase after each trip," Ribisi said.
The collection of oversize jersey tops, striped sweaters and jeans in superbright hues is exactly what one would imagine a young adventurer wearing to a rock concert in Japan, said Banks, 29. For nights on the town, there are dressier silk Ts and tank dresses. Wholesale prices range from $45 to $295. To create the pattern story, the partners designed their own prints and Ribisi, 32, borrowed a few sketches from her husband Beck, the Grammy Award-winning musician. The pair decided to skip New York Fashion Week and Coterie in favor of debuting at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Smashbox Studios. "We both live in L.A. and we believe in it," Banks said.
WREN For Melissa Coker, designer of Wren, creating a collection has been a natural evolution. While attending New York University she worked as an intern for Helmut Lang and W magazine, and after graduating she was André Leon Talley's assistant at Vogue. Then Abercrombie & Fitch recruited her to be a trend forecaster, traveling around the world to bring back inspiration. After settling in Los Angeles a year ago, she sought to combine her job experiences by designing clothes for her new, warmer surroundings. "I had very symbolically thrown out all of my heavy winter coats," Coker said.
The clothing, short, colorful dresses that mirrored her L.A. lifestyle, eventually grew into a collection that launched at Opening Ceremony stores in New York and Los Angeles. Her next collection, Holiday 2007, sold to Ron Herman. Coker will present Spring 2008, her third collection, as part of Gen Art's Fresh Faces in Fashion. She was inspired by the imagery of California in the Sixties and Seventies. "Color and texture were big points of departure for me," said Coker, 29. "I used heavily embroidered and textured cottons and hammered silks, which I manipulated with pleats and stitching." The collection is still full of short, flirty dresses as well as full pleated skirts cut well above the knee and paired with knit tops. Wholesale price points range from just under $100 to $400. For all her good fortune, Coker said, "I still have a lot of challenges ahead, namely mastering jackets and cold-weather pieces for next fall."
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"