LOS ANGELES — Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, the duo known for launching Current/Elliott with distressed boyfriend jeans and styling starlets such as Jessica Alba in ladylike looks, are melding their girlish tomboy aesthetic into a new fashion line called The Great.They will have support from a valued source as they start the new venture. Working with a staff of about a dozen, they’re also calling on Art Peck, president of growth, innovation and digital at Gap Inc., as an individual investor and adviser.After 15 years of working together as a styling team, Current and Elliott are introducing 130 pieces at New York market this week, in time to hit stores next spring. However, they’re not offering a stitch of denim in the inaugural collection, due to a non-compete clause following their exodus from Current/Elliott in late 2012. Instead, jeans aficionados will have to wait until next fall. Still, their new venture establishes their past as a foundation for building their new brand.“Everything we create is nostalgic — it’s based on something familiar,” said Elliott, who, along with Current, found inspiration in jeans collected from their parents as well as a dress dating from the Victorian era. “It has an ease of something boyish, but it has the softness of something feminine. That’s definitely our aesthetic in a nutshell. In this line, it’s the perfect balance.”With a launch devoid of denim, they’re incorporating for the first time cotton tulle, lace and eyelet; silk twill and reverse satin; tropical wool; cashmere; alpaca, and lambskin leather into their assortment.Of the affiliation with Peck, Elliott commented, “Art is a really smart guy. He believes in talent, and he believes in product that evokes emotion.”Added Current, “His belief in us, we took to heart.”Considering themselves visual storytellers whose narratives are built upon outfits, Current and Elliott concocted an adventure for each of the deliveries. The heroine for the first delivery in January is the “ruffled tomboy,” decked out in high-waisted trousers in faded black Tencel-cotton, striped button-up shirts and black pleated silk-twill jackets accented with tonal embroidery on the shoulders. The “girlish scout” from the second delivery in February is a play on military motifs, with army pants cut in a relaxed but slim fit as well as a reverse silk-chiffon satin tank with frilly layers that playfully peek out from under a jacket or sweatshirt. Scheduled for March, the third delivery, the “playful patriot,” is dressed in bright blue, garment-dyed skinny pants and an army-style jacket fashioned out of a khaki Tencel-cotton blend with oversize front pockets and a short funnel neck.Since getting their big break as the namesake cofounders of Current/Elliott along with Serge Azria six years ago, the pair have dabbled in other design projects. In 2011, they manifested their love for bags in a collaboration with Kate Spade New York. Last year, they cast their selective eye on interior design, producing a chambray-upholstered chaise lounge and a bronze bunny lamp, among other items, for PBteen, Williams-Sonoma’s teen spin-off of Pottery Barn. Teaming with photographer Hilary Walsh, they released an homage to blue jeans, titled “A Denim Story: Inspirations From Bellbottoms to Boyfriends,” last March.“It was all steps leading to our aesthetic,” Current said.New moms who gave birth to daughters within six weeks of each other last year, they’re also assembling a girls’ collection, called The Great Little, filled with Ts, pants and sweatshirts that share the same graphics, like a bear screenprint, with the women’s line.Current and Elliott are targeting high-end specialty shops, department stores and e-tailers that sell other advanced contemporary labels like Rag & Bone. Their own e-commerce site is set to launch in January. Retail prices start at $95 for T-shirts and run to $1,395 for leather pants. Key categories are priced from $185 to $395 for shirts, $265 to $355 for pants, and $345 to $475 for jackets. The girls’ grouping retails for around $100. They declined to disclose their first-year sales target.“We’ve grown up and our girl’s grown up, and that carries through aesthetically,” said Elliott. “Generally speaking, we’re well-balanced.”If the pair lives up to their company’s name, which was inspired by history-making characters like Catherine the Great and the Great Gatsby, more is on the way. “It’s a lifestyle brand that we want to grow,” Current said.
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