Backstory: Aussie Michael Angel, 32, had quite a prolific styling career before launching his own line. At the age of 16, he began working the sales floor at contemporary label Saba, becoming its visual creative supervisor eight years later. Subsequently, he logged hours with companies from the Melbourne Fashion Festival to streetwear label Vicious Threads, where he was creative director, to sports juggernaut Oakley, which hired Angel to revamp the line in 2000. Maybelline, V Magazine, Rolling Stone — he's styled for them all as well. But he's an artist, too, quietly churning out a steady stream of paintings. This spring, he's finally putting them to use: His launch collection's focus is on his handmade prints. Collection: "I wanted to create the ultimate art smock and modernize it," says Angel about the concept behind this collection. To that end, there are a number of fluid silhouettes: unstructured gowns, shirts and hooded dresses shaped like a comfy boxer's robe. The prints, meanwhile, are bold, ranging from abstract watercolors to digital paint splatters. "I love saturated color," says Angel, who's now based in Brooklyn. "I've got a whole catalogue of my artwork I'm dying to get out."
Stats: The collection starts at $80, wholesale, for a T-shirt and goes up to $2,500 for a printed silk gown. Retail venues have yet to be determined.
— Venessa Lau
Backstory: "Not a lot of people from Kentucky want to be fashion designers," says Brandy Lunsford, who nonetheless credits her design career to her Southern roots. She grew up in Kentucky, admiring her grandmother's Old South sense of style and competing as a world-class equestrian. The latter, she says, gave her the discipline to start her own collection at the age of 25. Before launching Harlan Bel — named for her mother's native Harlan County, Ky., and her initials — for fall 2007, she attended Parsons the New School for Design. While there, she upped her styling and design skills with internships at VPL by Victoria Bartlett and Jill Stuart and then, after graduating in 2005, took a position at Ralph Lauren Rugby.
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