NEW YORK — After a brief warm-up, Rock Culture is revving up for its second act.
For spring, the brand's second season, it will expand beyond tank tops and T-shirts to get into glittery ready-to-wear. Andrea Victor, the 25-year-old designer behind Rock Culture, was selected by Swarovski as one of its innovative designers and uses its crystals generously. Her combed cotton cocktail dresses, evening gowns, jackets, pants and tops are covered with Swarovski crystals in vintage rhodium settings, making them reminiscent of burlesque costumes.
Now that her West Village apartment is a work studio/factory, Victor is more than happy to have hired Shlafer & Shlafer as a consultant for design and distribution. She also has turned over production responsibilities to Court International Ltd., which is sourcing production from Hong Kong. "We have about 20 accounts just by me knocking on doors," Victor said.
Victor started her business inadvertently. After completely redesigning a C&C California T-shirt dress for her friend, Randi Udell, to wear to their joint birthday bash at Frederick's here, a few guests liked it so much they badgered her to design a collection and Rock Culture was born.
Victor was already familiar with the ins and outs of Seventh Avenue. At 16, she met Elliot Lavigne, the then-chief executive officer of Perry Ellis Menswear, on a beach in Acapulco. An avid sketcher, Victor wouldn't let him leave before looking at her sketches. After much pleading, he agreed to hire the then-Dalton student, who pitched in after school and was often tardy to classes or missed them entirely. "I did finish high school, but I had a lot of absences," she said. "Fortunately, Dalton is one of the more liberal schools in Manhattan."
She went on to graduate from New York University's Gallatin School with a concentration in language of clothes and clothing as a form of nonverbal communication. From there, she set out to design for a string of companies, including Victor Costa, Vivienne Tam and Kay Unger. After working as a buyer for Jimmy's for 18 months, Victor was taking a break from the fashion business when she made the much-talked-about birthday party outfit.Now Rock Culture is sold at stores such as Calypso, the New York-based chain, and Blue & Cream in East Hampton, and will be in Bloomingdale's this fall, Victor said. Despite the interest and expanded offerings, Victor is hesitant to project wholesale volume. "People I work with are saying I could do a couple hundred thousand for spring, but I'm still old-fashioned. When I see it on paper, that's when I will count it."
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