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Cash, Grass and Ass

Photos by Elizabeth Perrin“We were in the south of France and what were people wearing?” asks designer Kellie Delkeskamp in her sunny, 3,000-square-foot garment-district studio. “Jeans and T-shirts. Everyone looks to L.A.” Delkeskamp was in France with her business/design partner and best friend of 20 years, John Cherpas. In just two years, their rugged, laid-back Grass jeans have been given a prime spot in the vast and ever-growing market of high-end denim. Which means that Grass has become a favorite of such denim-loving stars as Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz, Mandy Moore, Paris Hilton and both Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie. Inspired and named after the canyons of Los Angeles — Coldwater, Laurel, Bronson, Runyon, Topanga (the women’s line) — and other California touchstones —Arrowhead, Atwater, Sierra, Redwood (the men’s line) — Grass is being sold in specialty boutiques like Lisa Kline and Ron Herman at Fred Segal, and is seen regularly in fashion and celebrity magazines. The line’s fast rise recalls such trailblazing L.A. denim companies as Earl and Lucky Brand.Exactly what makes Grass so hot? “I want to say the fit,” Delkeskamp says with a smile. “I know every [designer] says ‘the fit is what makes us different,’ but, it is the fit. I always wear my jeans. We do have a couple of trade secrets, but if I were to tell you, it would be like Mrs. Fields telling her chocolate-chip-cookie recipe.” Blue jean baby, L.A. lady: Brita in Topanga patchwork jeans; Sebastian in Atwater bleached jeans. Still, Delkeskamp did share this bit about fit with Women’s Wear Daily: “A lot of designers go after the butt; ours make the leg look really long. But it makes your butt look good, too. And when you sit down, your crack doesn’t show. We’re over that whole thing.”Decked with hippie details like embroidered suns, trees and guitars, Grass jeans and cords have a true California vibe. “They are all about that carefree feeling,” Delkeskamp says. “You’re in your early 20s, you’re kicking back in Topanga with your best friend, there’s a cute guy sitting over there and something’s about to happen.”Delkeskamp and Cherpas, who prior to starting Grass shared three lines, including Fever Jeans and Josphine Loka, are thrilled to be designing in Los Angeles instead of New York. “There are so many great people,” Delkeskamp says. “And all of us are friends! Henry Duarte, Trina Turk — she’s like our Lilly Pulitzer — Michelle Mason, Richard Tyler, Cynthia Vincent... We call each other and help each other out. It’s different than New York. You’re never really afraid that they’re stealing your designs, which in New York they are.” Cherpas and Delkeskamp came up with the idea for Grasstwo years ago, when they were on a backwoods camping trip in Oregon. “On that trip Kellie said to me, ‘I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as this,’ ” recalls Cherpas, giving his dog Jackson, asleep at his feet, a scratch on the head. By the time the two returned to the city they had Grass all mapped out. They based the line on the simplicity of the things they love and the life they share: hikes, travel, music, sun, hippie flea markets around the world, Burning Man, Laurel Canyon (Delkeskamp lives there with her filmmaker husband and daughter) and spending time with their dogs (who are also “best friends” and on most days accompany their owners to work). Cherpas says they intend to expand the company to include fragrances, shoes and assorted accessories. “ ‘Grass is greener’ is our slogan,” he says, “because Grass is Greener right here.” Grass is available at Lisa Kline, 136 S. Robertson Blvd., (310) 246-0907; Ron Herman at Fred Segal, 8100 Melrose Ave., (866) 654-4577; M. Frederic, 28024 Dorothy Drive, Agoura Hills, (818) 597-0212. Photos by Elizabeth Perrin Models: Brita Peterson, Sebastian Stylist: Elizabeth Tagg Makeup: Amy Nadine (Bardeen Agency)

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