LOS ANGELES — As stylists to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Mandy Moore, Jessica Biel, Eva Mendes and other Hollywood “It” girls, Cristina Ehrlich and Estee Stanley have their pick of frocks from the world’s designers.
Now they’re getting into the game themselves.
“At times, finding the quintessential dress for our clients, one that fits the way we really want them to look for an event, is not that easy,” said Ehrlich, who teamed with Stanley five years ago.
Even worse is when a fashion house promises exclusivity to Penélope Cruz or Portia de Rossi, whom they also style, and a week later, their client and another actress appear in the same dress.
“It used to be so great when designers didn’t want that to happen,” Stanley said. “Now they do.”
So the partners are introducing another resource — one they designed under the Miss Davenporte label. The 30-piece collection of cocktail dresses, tailored trousers and jackets, knit camisoles and other separates, mostly cut in silks — raw, georgette, chiffon — is to launch Thursday night during a party and trunk show at Ron Herman at Fred Segal on Melrose Avenue here.
Several of their celebrated clients are to be among the 250 invited guests.
“If you’re a great stylist, you have a great eye, so you could become a good designer,” said John Eshaya, the women’s buyer at Ron Herman and the first to carry Ehrlich and Stanley’s clothes.
“Design is knowing what’s chic now,” Eshaya said. “But you have to have the technical down, too. And Estee and Cristina nailed it from the beginning. They have such great everyday style in the way they personally dress, not just what they do for their clients, and that shows throughout the collection.”
This is actually the second incarnation of a line designed by Ehrlich and Stanley. The pair created two styles — a shirtdress and pleated skirt — under the name Miss Robinson and brought them to Eshaya. They sold out immediately and he took the next five styles in April. But when they learned the name was already in the marketplace, the partners decided to rechristen the self-financed brand and launch it for spring 2006.
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“I love it for what it represents: Fifties and Sixties glamour,” Eshaya said. “It was a time of cocktail parties, girls doing their hair, their makeup. That to me is so chic and I know it resonates with our customers.”
Stanley’s high-rise apartment off Sunset Boulevard is meticulously appointed in the Hollywood Regency style, not unlike the decor linked with their friend, the interior design star Kelly Wearstler, whom the pair dressed in gowns by Lanvin, Rochas and others for her new lifestyle coffee-table book, “Docilium Decorotus” (December, Regen).
In Stanley’s apartment, the ivory baby grand piano was shoved to the corner one morning for a shoot of a model for the look book. “It looks like an Avedon shot,” Stanley said. “All we need is an elephant.”
Stanley is also an interior designer and is working on nine homes, despite the addition of the new career to an already full plate. “That’s why there’s two of us,” her partner said.
“We do have access to the most beautiful clothes,” Ehrlich continued. “But we also wanted to have an affordable option. Not every woman wants or can go out and spend $3,500 on a dress that she’s only going to wear a couple of times.”
And that includes their clients. “The minute they’re photographed in something, it’s done,” Ehrlich said. “They’re not going to wear it again.”
So everything — from a $150 skirt to a $450 dress — wholesales for less than $500. “It’s disgusting how much you have to pay for a dress just to go to a cocktail party,” Stanley said. “We’re over it.”
Custom orders are part of a business plan that is still being developed. “We couldn’t even begin to guess what our first-year sales are,” Stanley said.
The idea is to create one-of-a-kind looks that their clients will never see on another star.
And if consumers demand them for themselves? “Of course, if it does become a hit, we will offer it. But it will be the next season and in a different fabric,” Ehrlich said. Many of the styles are already limited in quantities because they are cut from vintage fabrics. But the pair have their sights on blowing out the brand into a full-scale lifestyle concern.
“We want Miss Davenporte to be more than just a clothing collection,” Stanley said. “We want it to be lifestyle — from plus-size clothes to flatware to wallpaper. That’s our dream.”
They’ve promised one another that the day after the trunk show will be a time to reflect. “We’re not going to answer our phones,” Stanley said. “We’re just going to be Ladies Who Lunch.”