Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — Is there fashion life beyond the beach?
For teens who’ve lived the surf, skate and snow circuit but now are longing for something more, a new junior apparel collection just might be the answer.
Deesse (pronounced day-ess), means goddess in French, but as a fashion label that is launching for fall, it translates to a lifestyle collection that aims to promote spiritual awareness, self-confidence and a celebration of being young and female.
Can all that philosophy be packed into an apparel collection?
Olary Yim, founder and president at Los Angeles-based Deesse, thinks the answer is yes.
“Fun, fearless and female is what Deesse is all about,” said Yim, a native of Cambodia and a graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts, who has spent a lot of time thinking about such matters.
“Deesse takes junior and streetwear fashion to the next step beyond the beach. It’s a more enlightened view of the board-sport culture. The line retains the flavor of a Southern California-inspired lifestyle that’s very important to certain 18- to 24-year-old women, my target customers. But it also reflects a spiritual evolution as these young women expand their horizons, graduate from high school or get ready to start a career.”
A mix of classic Eastern and Western silhouettes anchors Deesse’s debut collection, ranging from Vietnamese tunics to low-rise denim jeans and hooded fleece jackets.
Divided into three groups that accent denim, sports and Eastern culture, the item-driven fall collection is designed to promote individual style and to complement a young woman’s existing wardrobe.
“When do women ever stop being goddesses? They don’t, and fashion shouldn’t overwhelm their essence,” Yim said. “Being a goddess is all about an individual’s sense of strength, grace, self-worth and femininity.”
Though cut from techno-based fibers such as suede microfiber, Lurex metallic and denim, Deesse takes a romantic, postmodern view of fall with cut-and-sew construction, bright and pastel colors and subtle appliques.
“There’s not a contradiction in being feminine and a feminist,” reasoned Yim. “Girl power doesn’t have to be in your face.”
Items include Lycra spandex spaghetti-string tank tops, Fifties-inspired cargo shorts that ride low on the hips, shaped button-front plaid shorts, ripstop plaid capris and long linen side-slit tunics called ojais, which are native Vietnamese dresses often worn over skinny pants.
Many of the styles are branded with subtle rhinestone Deesse logos, such as a long skirt and hipster jeans that sport small crystal d’s on the hem.
Wholesale prices rarely rise above $34, which is the price of a fake fur-lined jacket with a softly rounded neckline.
The collection also includes accessories, including wallets, belts backpacks and a melange of millinery, from beanies to Australian Outback cowboy hats. The clothing and accessories are designed by John Q, a veteran of the hip-hop fashion scene.
Deesse is projecting first-year sales of $2 million and is expected to hang in both specialty and department stores.
Yim, working with John Q and merchandiser Darren Jones, is marketing the collection through a grassroots campaign that includes the Internet and sending Deesse-clad young women to clubs and hot spots in target markets.
Yim also plans to open an 1,800-square-foot freestanding boutique this fall in Hermosa Beach, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. It will be stocked with Deesse and other junior brands, playing up the mix-it-up attitude extolled by Yim.
“The store is also designed to be a working design laboratory,” she explained. “I plan to test new styles and get feedback from young women before putting things into production.”
True to her maverick nature, Yim said the store’s design reflects a spiritual mind-set, with soaring 30-foot ceilings, lots of glass, and a log-cabin style facade.