By  on August 21, 2007

NEW YORK — Sophie Théallet knows a thing or two about luxurious craftsmanship. Before moving to New York, the French native worked closely with Azzedine Alaïa for 10 years, and with Jean Paul Gaultier for three years, picking up quite a few tricks from the two masters. Her collection, which is now into its third season, is full of light and luxurious dresses with details such as panels of ruffles inserted for a flirtatious effect. "My target woman is intelligent, well aware of what's going on in the fashion world and wanting to feel beautiful and strong, not overly sexy, but with a little je ne sais quoi," Théallet said. "She is looking for real quality and not just for the latest trend." Théallet is no stranger to New York fashion circles. She was once a designer for Nars Cosmetics, and started the Motu Tane apparel collection with beauty guru François Nars in 2005, offering lightweight and floaty looks that catered to a year-round resort lifestyle. Nars and Théallet decided to end their collaboration last year. "After the success I had with Motu Tane, I was encouraged by different retailers to continue and do my own line," she said. Her resort collection centers around dresses and tops, with a multitude of ruffled dresses, ones cinched at the waist with an army belt, and wrap styles that tie in the back to accentuate a woman's back. Théallet uses a light cotton as her core fabric, which she likes to mix with satin and chiffon. She credits her years at Alaïa for informing many of her technical skills. "He taught me the respect for the tradition of making beautiful clothes, and to do it with passion," she said. Théallet's line already has been picked up by such stores as Barneys New York, Tomas Maier in Miami, Blake in Chicago, Maxfields in Los Angeles, Mix in Houston, Colette in Paris and The Cross in London. Wholesale prices range from $300 to $500 for tops and $500 to $800 for dresses. Théallet declined to give sales projections, citing current negotiations with potential investors as the reason. Her next step? "My vision is to build a lifestyle brand and then open a store," she said.

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