By  on December 5, 2006

As designers such as Derek Lam, Doo-Ri Chung, Behnaz Sarafpour and Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez appear to be rising in fashion's ranks, a handful of up-and-comers are in hot pursuit.

More often than not, getting more exposure involves getting accessories on the runway —something that several designers have in the works for February. They are also game about exploring international opportunities and, in some cases, opening freestanding stores.

"Everything is definitely moving faster than we thought it would," said Wen Zhou, chief executive officer of 3.1 Phillip Lim. But like many of her peers, she is taking it in stride while keeping an eye out for new prospects.

Zhou is scouting a location for the designer's first freestanding store, which is expected to open in SoHo next year. The 3,500-square-foot space the company hopes to close on this month would give Lim enough room to display the lifestyle of the brand, especially in relation to his new men's wear collection, she said.

Zhou and Lim plan to further develop accessories in the next year. "We've done bags and belts, but we don't have a complete collection. Everything is done in-house, and I think we will keep it this way,'' she said. "We haven't been thinking about licensing."

Collaborations are another story. Lim has created a capsule collection consisting of a dress, tops, skirt and shorts for the Japanese retailer Uniqlo that will bow in May. Guests at his 7th on Sixth show in February will be among the first to see the shoes he has designed through a partnership with a major international apparel house that Zhou declined to name.

After receiving one of the runner-up prizes at last month's CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund awards, Rodarte's Laura and Kate Mulleavy have plenty in store for the next six months or so. Their label's first collection of gloves, shoes and jewelry is being launched at On Pedder, a luxury accessories boutique in Hong Kong. Artistic invitations touting its arrival were sent to customers to clue them in to Rodarte accessories' arrival.

The designers will put their creative minds to work by helping design the window display at Colette during next month's couture shows in Paris. They will assist with the backdrop that will complement items from their collection that have already been selected.

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