On the Radar: Emerging Designers

When fashion and style is kept simple with clean lines and good fabric, I ‘m interested, but even that colorful flounce by Mara Hoffman is something I would have worn back in my youth.  ~5700

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By Elva Ramirez / Wall Street Journal: Style
October 9, 2009, 6:01 PM ET

The big names at fashion week tend to get the lion’s share of attention. But the majority of the fashion industry is comprised of dozens and dozens of lesser-known designers trying to get a stitch closer to label recognition. Here are a few emerging talents to look for in a store near you.

Christian Cota

    Courtesy Christian Cota     Christian Cota Spring 2010

Courtesy Christian Cota Christian Cota Spring 2010

Cota’s florals and layered designs are a recent addition to Saks Fifth Avenue’s third floor at its New York flagship.

“The response has already been incredible, especially with our younger customer looking for an entry point into designer [clothes],” says Saks president and chief merchandising officer Ron Frasch. “The collection excels because of Christian’s use of novelty prints and the construction of the silhouettes and pieces that balance elegance and detail.”

For Spring 2010, Cota showed a collection full of flowers. “I’ve never been a floral person but this season I really wanted to capture beauty itself,” Cota says. “It was about the flower being broken up, and then re-sewn together almost like a garment.”

His textiles this season included a cage-like lace made by stitching ribbons onto fabric, then melting the fabric away (but leaving an intricately coiled pattern behind). Another dress uses a similar technique, where the topmost layer of a stacked fabric is gently burned away to form a pattern out of small holes that reveal colorful silk beneath. But concepts will only go so far: “No matter how many concepts I have, at the end I make sure it’s something a woman would love to wear,” he says.

Mara Hoffman

    Courtesy Mara Hoffman     Mara Hoffman Spring 2010

Courtesy Mara Hoffman Mara Hoffman Spring 2010

Hoffman is quickly establishing herself as a designer with a flair for prints. Her breezy multi-culti look is balanced by a sophisticated use of prints, and buyers have taken note — her designs have recently been picked up by Bloomingdales and Intermix.

“The color palettes are one of a kind –  you can’t find them anywhere else,” says Shopbop.com buyer Jane Albiter.

For example, in Hoffman’s Spring 2010 collection, a rainbow-print fabric is cut into strips and braided into a seam on a dress bodice, which re-jiggers the color composition as well as adds a construction element.

The new collection’s signature is ethereal and dreamy but “juxtaposed with construction and geometry,”  Hoffman says. “There’s definitely a hippy vibe but it’s futuristic hippy.”

Shannon Carney

$650 medium collar resin necklace from Shannon Carney

$650 medium collar resin necklace from Shannon Carney

Jewelry designer Shannon Carney is still considered emerging, but probably not for long. She garnered a short profile in Vogue’s very important September issue (the 2009 edition, not the film version) and one of her resin and gold rings was featured prominently in an April Elle spread.

“Shannon hand pours and colors each piece by hand, attaching the pieces with 18-karat gold,” says Karen Daskas, owner of Tender, a luxury boutique in Michigan.  “The necklaces and earrings are lightweight and Shannon’s sense of color is amazing.”

“My clients will be attracted to this upcoming addition to Tender for its freshness and color range,” Daskas added. “Collections like Shannon’s give people a reason to buy.”

Spurr

    Spurr Spring 2010

Spurr Spring 2010

Designer Simon Spurr notched heavy-duty design menswear cred by working with Hedi Slimane, and doing stints as design director at CK menswear,  Ralph Lauren Purple Label and Ralph Lauren Black Label Men’s. He launched his signature line,  Spurr, in fall 2006 and is in Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s and Bloomingdale’s.

“He’s really emerging as one the best new menswear designers,” says Kevin Harter, vice president of fashion direction at Bloomingdale’s. “I think he has the potential of beng a huge breakout star.”

The Spurr touch is recognizable by classic, accessible design, luxurious fabrics and masculine styling.  “His designs are ageless,” Harter says. “He would attract a younger guy that wants to look really cool with his outerwear, and then he does beautiful tailored clothing that you could wear to the office.”

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