By  on October 10, 2007

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."JESSE KAMM
Jesse Kamm is a designer who isn't looking to double her production. She silk screens every piece herself and produces only 30 to 50 of each item. "I love detailed, handcrafted work that is not mass produced,'' she said. "It's important for me to control every step of the process."

Kamm, 31, quit modeling three years ago, took a sewing class and began making herself clothes. Her first customer was a fellow shopper at Ron Herman who saw Kamm wearing one of her own pieces. Liz Goldwyn then wore one of Kamm's moss- and-dragonfly print cotton gauze tunics into the Paris boutique Colette, which later placed an order. Her stores now include Restir in Tokyo; Vakko in Istanbul; Madison, Presse and Kaviar and Kind in Los Angeles; Blake in Chicago, and Finn in Toronto.

The spring collection, her fifth, features neutral cotton and linen dresses, skirts and tops in simple shapes onto which Kamm screens her artwork. The pieces, which range from $110 wholesale for a camisole to $550 for a long dress, are inspired by timeless silhouettes of Halston and Yves Saint Laurent. The artwork in Kamm's last collection was based on family heirlooms. This time, she was inspired by notions and trims she found in a Paris flea market, creating button prints and trompe l'oeil bows rather than sewing embellishments onto clothes. Kamm's presentation Tuesday at the Taylor De Cordoba gallery will include a short film starring Alison Lohman and sisters Marley and Samantha Shelton. The theme is the bloom, represented by the tulip-shaped skirts and "the growth of new ideas," Kamm said.

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