The Now Garde 

10 L.A. Designers


Fashion has two purposes: comfort and love. Beauty comes when fashion succeeds.

—Coco Chanel

Comfort, for Coco Chanel, was the caterpillar, those everyday clothes (think Gap, Old Navy) that increasingly define for many of us our wardrobes. And then there was love, the butterfly, garments transformed by the placement of a button, the cut of the cloth, the stitching of a seam, the choice of fabric. “There must be dresses that crawl,” she said, “and dresses that fly.”

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In this issue, we searched out L.A. designers who create ensembles that soar. Each has a way of turning cloth into art — and in the case of Josh and He Yang, that’s quite literal: People have been known to buy the fabrics they make just to hang on a wall. Then there’s the witty seduction of Louis Verdad, the chic playfulness of Grant Krajecki for Grey Ant, the gothic voluptuousness of Bao Tranchi, the charming edginess of Diane Moss Martin and Eric Martin for MartinMartin, the sleek refinement of Monah Li, the sexy elegance of Eduardo Lucero, the whimsical sophistication of Nony Tochterman for Petro Zillia, the romantic opulence of Cornell Collins, and the clever grace of Marina Toybina and Ashton Hirota for Glaza.

With these designers, beauty does indeed come.

—Kateri Butler, style editor

“Design is about being inspired by our rich cultural history, the beauty around us, the strengths within us, and channeling this all into a garment that is new. Take the past, but infuse it into the resonance of the now. What transforms a garment into something more is when it makes one rethink the possibilities of cloth.”

Jack Atlantis wears an acid-washed notched-collar cutaway corseted jacket, wool riding pants, leather knee-high spats, and a leather and brass cock ring belt; Evelyne Bennu (Dragon Models) wears a silk-jersey ball gown, brass breastplate with leather straps, beaver penis-bone leather neck brace, distressed-silk and leather shoes, and faerie antler headpiece. Bao Tranchi is available through www.tranchi.com.

“What could be more spiritual than fashion? Every design is an offering to gods so gorgeous we can’t even see them. When I design, I think of the woman and that she wants to express herself in a way that’s subtle but makes a statement. I design because I need to enhance, disguise and celebrate what creation gave me.”

Sarah Ring (Osbrink Models) IS in an overdyed silk-jersey blouse with leather inset, an overdyed silk-jersey skirt with outside seam, and an overdyed rayon-velveteen jacket. Monah Li is available at Traffic (Beverly Center, Sunset Plaza and Costa Mesa) and Giselle (Santa Monica and Malibu) or www.monahli.com.

“To me, fashion design is not just about the clothes, it’s about a life. It’s about a feeling I try to portray in my designs and a message I try to pass through everything I get involved in. Life is too short — we need to enjoy every second and cherish every day, have fun, smile a lot, and love our family and friends.” “To me, fashion design is not just about the clothes, it’s about a life. It’s about a feeling I try to portray in my designs and a message I try to pass through everything I get involved in. Life is too short — we need to enjoy every second and cherish every day, have fun, smile a lot, and love our family and friends.”

Laura Soltz (L.A. Models) wears a leather-and-silk-chiffon dress. Petro Zillia is available at Saks Fifth Avenue (Beverly Hills), Nordstrom (Topanga Canyon and South Coast Plaza), Macy’s (Beverly Center, Sherman Oaks and South Coast Plaza), Shaya (Beverly Center), Gisele Tune (Studio City), Madison (Melrose, Robertson and Beverly Hills), PatricK Reid (Santa Monica), O Boutique (Sunset Plaza) or www.petrozillia.com.

“Like life, design is an ever-changing process, fluid and evolving. It is the embrace of the moment, taking a stand, making a choice. It’s like dancing. You feel the music, but how do you choose to move? You can plan each little groove or you give up the control and let the music lead, open to the unknown.”

Vanessa Christelle (Dragon Models) wears a bustier top made out of silk ribbon, plastic bags, tulle, denim, embroidered cotton, vinyl, silk, cotton velvet, organza, vintage quilt fabric, sequins, snaps and buttons; a miniskirt made of denim, tulle, organza, cotton, lace, silk, vintage-cotton napkins and drapery fabric; leggings out of tulle silk, cotton, organza, sequins, upholstery fabric, Tibetan prayer flags, satin and braided trim; and a hat of recycled fur, organza, silk ribbon and yarn. Josh and He Yang is available at Josh and He Yang Studio (Silver Lake), Planet Blue (Malibu and Brentwood) and Jamie Lynn (Robertson).

“I know that I would not be able to create the body of work that I do, in the way that I do, if I were not the person I am. I would not be the person that I am if art did not exist.”

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