Byline: Cassie Nye

Niki Schwan, owner and designer of Lura Starr, the apparel line inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age, is hitting the streets with a new collection that reflects Nick at Nite more than American Movie Channel.
Schwan, a former music stylist, unveiled her street-minded line — called simply Lura — at a fashion show last month held inside her signature store on Beverly Boulevard. Schwan capitalized on themes from “Charlie’s Angels,” “Grease” and “Roller Derby” for the debut.
And like her choice of music, the line heavily pays homage to the Seventies, mixing vivid oranges, reds, golds and turquoises in sexy, low-cut silhouettes. There’s a printed jersey halter top with a plunging neckline, a gathered halter dress with a T-neck scarf detail and satin roller-derby pants with a rear heart pocket.
Targeting the younger, more trend-conscious customer, the line wholesales from $60 to $80 for separates, $88 to $128 for dresses, $120 to $155 for snakeskin pleather pants and dresses, and $180 for a suit coat.
Lura will initially be available at the Lura Starr store and Henri Bendel in New York. Schwan said she plans to widen distribution next year.
With Lura, Schwan has a more urban customer in mind than with Lura Starr. “It’s just an entirely different market, and I wanted to let people know that I could do that,” she explained.
“I’ve been put into a high-end category, which has a narrower clientele — conservative and older — and I wanted a younger market,” Schwan said, adding that the higher end of fashion takes its cue from the streets, anyway.
Schwan, who regularly works in silk jersey, substituted fabrics to make this line more affordable. “Instead of silk jersey, I use rayon. Instead of leather, I use pleather,” she explained.
She is also designing new silhouettes. Lura offers more separates and more denim, and is more form-fitting than Lura Starr, which traditionally offers tailored suiting and dresses. Lura bottoms have a shorter rise and sit lower on the hips. Skirts and dresses in the line are distinguished by higher slits and less of a misses’ cut.
“This collection is a funkier, trendier line for the streets,” Schwan declared. “It’s very sexy and very ‘Charlie’s Angels.”‘
Schwan said she scans pop culture from many periods for ideas. For example, she is a firm believer in what she said were the high standards of clothes made during the Thirties and Forties. As for style, Schwan freely plucks from the Seventies and Eighties — which she believes, in turn, were directly influenced by the rule-breaking of the Thirties and Forties.
“When I was young, I didn’t have a lot of money, so I shopped at thrift and vintage stores a lot. It gave me an appreciation for classic and timeless looks from all time periods,” she explained.
Schwan capitalized on her knowledge of vintage styles when she started selling Lura Starr to Ron Herman-Fred Segal on Melrose Avenue in early 1997. By summer of that year, Schwan opened her first store on Martel Avenue, around the corner from her current location, and discontinued the wholesale business. Lura Starr has been a favorite among stars such as Courtney Love, Mariah Carey, Marley Shelton and Natalie Portman.
Now, the arrival of Lura means a new opportunity to get back into wholesaling, something Schwan said she hadn’t meant to ignore.
“I didn’t initially intend to be in retail for so long, but I got heavily into it and found that it was the best way to get my line out there,” she observed. With Lura, Schwan hopes she could be seeing her star shoot nationwide.

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