If you ask most editors what shows they're excited for, the first name on their lips is invariably Marc Jacobs. But beyond the usual suspects, there's new talent (or talent new to the New York pool) this Fashion Week that we can't wait to see. From Prabal Gurung's internationally inspired collection to Rad Hourani's sophisticated designs and palette, these are our five designers to watch.
Fashion designers are rushing to London in droves this season, but Maria Grachvogel, a fifteen-year veteran of LFW, is debuting at the Altman Building September 13. How avant-garde! Truth be told, the move was purely pragmatic: "We have a loyal U.S. customer base from our flagship store in London and the time was right." That's not to say it's not daunting all the same. "Well, it feels like a much bigger stage, and therefore more intimidating and more pressure. But also so exciting." The self-taught designer took her first collection to London Fashion Week at the wee age of 14, and was "promptly told 'it's lovely, dear, but you need to go on some business courses!'" But Grachvogel kept at it, and her look for this particular collection is very "mid-sixties Left Bank chic together with Upper East Side glamour." Her well-tailored trousers, sharp shoulders, and draped dresses should find a receptive audience in New York.
If there is one collection that is the most buzzed about this fall (Rachel Zoe named him as one of her faves to see this season, and socialites and celebs like Zoe Saldana are wearing his gowns), it's Prabal Gurung. If you've heard the name, it's because he designed for the now-defunct Bill Blass and has worked for some of the most recognized names in American sportswear: Donna Karan, Cynthia Rowley. Born in Singapore, raised in Kathmandu, with stops at New Delhi's National Institute of Fashion Technology, and then Melbourne and London, the well-traveled designer takes something from every city into his work. "For instance, growing up in Nepal and India, where vibrant colors are everywhere, helped shape my interpretation of color. Coming to New York, I was exposed to black being the prominent color, which expanded my palate." The hues for fall varied between bright reds and inky blacks, and the lines hint at his previous job at Bill Blass, but with some fun details thrown in, like a shirt made of rosettes or oversize bows. The spring presentation, his second, is based on "sensuality through a precise and restrained lens."
“I'm allergic to trends and I stick to what I believe in, and that's why our sales have been doubling and the team is growing,” says designer Rad Hourani. Though he never went to college and has no formal design training, pieces from the unisex eponymous line he founded in 2007 have already been featured in Elle and Vanity Fair and are on the racks at Seven, among other high-end boutiques. Hourani works mostly in a palette of black, white, gray, and navy. The designs may appear simple, but their refined and sophisticated details make them anything but. His impressively streamlined point of view has already led to a second line, RAD by Rad Hourani, which retails for $100 to $500 and will be available for sale online in November. As for his upcoming show at Milk, he says it's “confident and powerful, sort of like a weightless armor.”
It's rare to hear tales of designers using family traditions to make it in fashion. But Risto Bimbiloski, a knitwear savant who wowed Louis Vuitton with his artisan designs, has managed to do just that. Born in Macedonia, where knitting is learned at an early age, Bimbiloski headed to Paris's Duperee design school. His early knit collection, called "24," so impressed the honchos at Vuitton that they signed him on as the men's knitwear designer. Bimbiloski's fall collection was inspired by birds of prey, and indeed, he designs for a woman who likes to dress to kill. He describes his client as “someone with a sharp individual style fearlessly provoking a dark elegance.” The line is a family business, with his mother running all production back in Macedonia while he designs in Paris. “We have a very interesting global way of working," describes Bimbiloski. “I am based in Paris, the fabrics are Italian, we produce in Macedonia, and the show is in New York. It wasn’t easy but for me it was inevitable.” Bergdorf Goodman, Assembly New York, and Opening Ceremony have already picked up the line, which begins at $280 for scarves and tops out at $1,000 for dresses.
You thought bankers didn't dress well? Following a post-college job at Deutsche Bank, Timo Weiland formed a consulting company where he counseled young entrepreneurs, one of whom happened to be Alan Eckstein. The pair's line, which debuted nearly a year ago, originally consisted of neckwear. Classic silhouettes like the bow tie are made with perforated leather or silk, while more elaborate collars reinterpret Victorian-era collars. All of the pieces are unisex with a look that’s both refined and irreverent. “We design for the chic men and women in our lives. It’s our families, friends, and icons we admire, like historical figures from eighteenth-century France and Steve McQueen,” says Weiland about his customer. For spring 2010, the duo continues to play with the idea of modernizing more genteel times by adding a ready-to-wear collection inspired by the Baroque through Rococo eras.
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