Victorians Gone Wild: Opening Night of Skingraft's New Store in Downtown

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Fri, May 1, 2009 at 9:00 AM

What do you do if you are edgy, avant garde, theatrical and in need of a nice, dark, gothy, neo-Victorian outfit? You're a bride, maybe, who wants a blood red gown, or a frothy black wedding dress. Options were few and far between until today. Now you go to Skingraft's couture atelier. The design trio known as Skingraft had the grand opening of their first retail store this Wednesday night. (They had one of my favorite shows at BoxEight's Fashion Week this year, too.)

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Here they are: Katie Kay, Jonny Cota, and Cassidy Haley.

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Their new space is located at an old bank building in downtown LA. They share it with the designers of Elmer Ave. "We never intended to open a store," says Katie. "People think we're crazy for opening a retail store in the middle of a recession, but we found the space--on Craigslist--and it seemed right."

The store has taxidermied gazelles and deer.

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And accessories reminiscent of taxidermied gazelles and deer.

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This is Katie. (The girl, not the furry hat.)

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Her favorite piece is a black leather "ghawazee jumper" mini-dress (retails for $700). It looks like this olive green one below. It has a layered, asymmetrical hem and a corset that ties at the smallest part of the waist. Katie's friend and publicist Erika owns one of these dresses. When she wears it her boyfriend says, "Wow." That's Erika from the back in the second photo below. Her jacket and cream-colored blouse are also by Skingraft.

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These are garter belts. "They're kind of Lara Croft-y," says Jonny. His favorite piece is a slim leather biker jacket with Victorian-esque shoulders. They also do a line of utilitarian leather accessories--holsters, harnesses and such. (FYI, Rihanna, Kat von D, and Will.I.Am have worn their designs.) Up close you can see how well tailored everything is. The clothes are dark and lovely and have interesting details--pleated sleeves or collars that are almost origami-like, or unusual seams.

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The three designers try to find a balance between the fantastical, costumy, theatrical point of view, and the practical. Do the three of them usually work in harmony? "No," they say, laughing...in unison.

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Skingraft atelier at 125 West Fourth St., Downtown Los Angeles

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