Maria Korovilas brings handcrafted romance to Los Angeles Fashion Week

The thinking man’s sex symbol. That’s the woman Los Angeles designer Maria Korovilas is catering to with her label, Korovilas, launched through the Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion show in 2012.

Korovilas and her business partner, Katie Bernhisel, who met at USC, have developed a growing business out of their downtown Los Angeles studio, selling their lace-and-beaded dresses to Neiman Marcus online, Nordstrom Via C, Anthropologie and Satine at prices ranging from $395 to $1,800. And the label’s collections, inspired by chalky marble, Romanian peasant dresses, Edwardian laces, Deco jewelry, rustic vistas, ’90s granny boots and more, have caught the attention of Blake Lively and Sophia Bush.

The designer decided to show her spring 2016 collection during Los Angeles Fashion Week but away from the fray, hosting a cocktail party poolside at the Mondrian Hotel with models posed against the glittering skyline.

The collection took inspiration from “La Nouvelle Vague,” or French New Wave cinema, in particular, Jean-Luc Godard’s lesser known film “Pierrot le Fou” (1965). “It’s the one no one ever knows,” Korovilas joked, adding that the pastel color palette and dilapidated grandeur of France portrayed in Godard’s films were what intrigued her.

In her collection, that mood translated into romantic and wearable pieces, including canvas shirtdresses, miniskirts, shorts and elongated sleeveless jackets in original landscape prints, some scrawled with the word “vive,” which is French for “live.”

Other prints were hand-painted by the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of India, an organization of painters who have lost limbs and paint with their feet and mouths instead.

“[It’s] our way of merging art, commerce and global consciousness,” said Korovilas, explaining how each piece is unique to the individual painter’s interpretation of her print design, and will be limited, numbered and signed.

Short-and-sweet sheaths were made from gingham or hand-knotted lace, and column gowns were covered in pastel patchwork beading. A rose vine-printed viscose jumpsuit, and red yarn-dyed ticking stripe separates offered a sporty counterpoint. Korovilas, who received her MFA in fashion and textile design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, also showed a capsule of bridal looks.

The collection was well-executed, well-rounded and full of pieces that felt special, thanks to that handcrafted touch. Korovilas is one to watch.

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