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Photos by Michael Powers

Wearing the Pretty

As a designer, Desanka Fasiska

is not, as she puts it, trying to reinvent the wheel. You don’t need an instructional diagram to put on any of her outfits. Not that she doesn’t appreciate the avant-garde. She wants to be of the moment, even a little ahead. Respected creatively by her peers. But mostly, she wants her clothes to be something that a potential customer understands — as in “Oh, I love that. I want to wear it.” Interesting and comfortable. And, of course, pretty.

She is keenly aware that fashion is as much commerce as it is art. “It has been a learning process,” Fasiska says, “because I do have to answer to the market ultimately with what is going to sell and what isn’t. I’m happy I don’t have a partner, because I like calling my own shots. I don’t think I could have anyone telling me what I could design and what I couldn’t design except for the market.”

Fasiska, who grew up in Ladera Heights and started her flirty, floaty Desanka line three years ago, projects a kind of pragmatic confidence with a twist of bubbly Cali girl. But she wasn’t one of those kids making outfits for her dolls — she was drawing the clothes. Fashion wasn’t a driving force in her life. She didn’t know what she wanted to do — other than not go to college — after graduating from Beverly Hills High. Six months of doing nothing, then her mom pushed her to go to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.

And that’s where she fell in love with fashion. Once she became an FIDM graduate, she studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and did a semester at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in Paris to study couture sewing, followed by a six-month internship there with American designer Carrie Rossman. All-night sewing sessions taught her a lot.

She planned to return to Paris after graduation — she had the really cute boyfriend, was speaking French — but on the way back to France, she stopped in New York and was inspired to stay. But it was just before 9/11, and jobs became hard to come by. Well, there was the well-paid, if somewhat gross, gig as a receptionist at an escort agency. At least the hours were good. And there was a two-month internship with Anna Sui — not that she was doing much creative there. Think gofer.

Ultimately, Fasiska — known as Desa and named for her Serbian grandmother — wasn’t really doing anything fashion in N.Y. Time to come home. Friends from high school who didn’t have as much training as she did, people who took, like, one fashion class, were starting successful clothing companies. Plus, she was excited by the possibilities of design in L.A.

With her parents’ backing — dad is a metallurgist and mom is a retired insurance defense lawyer — she launched Desanka, which was featured in Gen Art’s “Fresh Faces in Fashion” show last October. Detailed illustrations that evince a sense of discipline and stick-to-itiveness dot the walls of her Garment District studio, where the line is manufactured. She’s already filled a rolling rack with samples from her Spring 2006 line, which she says will be for her first big show at this fall’s Fashion Week. She’s been able to hire a few people to do some of the business-side work that her mom has been handling — which means, Fasiska says, “She can be my mommy again.”

Desanka is available at Sirens & Sailors, 1104 Mohawk St., Echo Park, (213) 483-5423; Satine, 8117 W. Third St., (323) 655-2142; Diavolina, 156 S. Robertson Blvd., (310) 550-1341; Tracey Ross, 8595 W. Sunset Blvd., Sunset Plaza, (310) 854-1996; or

 Silk velvet bolero with metallic leather piping over rayon jersey tie-dyed blouse and silk georgette skirt with silk velvet yoke and cabochons

 Metallic cashmere sweater with pom-pom trim over silk georgette and metallic silk blouse and metallic wool shorts

 Market force: Desanka Fasiska

 (above and below): Silk georgette dress over metallic silk lame with metal studs and velvet belt with cabochons

 Rayon taffeta dress with tulle underskirt

Silk velvet blouse with silk georgette cowl and cabochons and metallic wool pants with leather piping and buttons


Model: Joline Towers (Photogenics)

Makeup: Alma Anguiano (MK Artists)

Hair: Kristin Sivesind (Luxe Lab)

Jewelry by Coryn Madley;


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