With its ready supply of Hollywood starlets, L.A. has always been a haven for eveningwear designers, from James Galanos to Randolph Duke to Monique Lhuillier. The newest arrival trying to make a name for herself on the scene is the Romanian-born Lorena Sarbu, who showcased her Resort 2014 collection Wednesday at her elegant Beverly Hills home.
Guests walked through the dining room, past the cherry blossom chandelier and wallpaper, into the garden, where lunch was served by the swimming pool, followed by a fashion show. The event drew editors and celebs including Minnie Driver, Rhona Mitra and Cara Santana.
Sarbu, who started her business in New York in 2009, recently relocated her atelier to L.A.. She also tapped seasoned stylist Deborah Waknin as a creative collaborator on the Resort collection.
The result was a colorful array of curve-skimming evening gowns in bright cobalt, fuchsia and turquoise, as well as soft blush, peach and basic black. In tulle or lace, some revealed sheer insets on the sides, and others were embellished with hand-embroidered crystals, pearls or "Gatsby"-esque beaded fringe. Also on display: Sarbu's lace mini dresses, which have garnered something of a following among the young leggy set, and a white silk jumpsuit with delicate gold beading.
"Being here in L.A. helped me creatively set the tone," said Sarbu, dressed in a powder pink sheath of her own design with gold beaded fringe at the hips. "Traveling back and forth to New York so much before, my mind was always on dark colors. It messed with me. I believe that it's really fresh, feminine eveningwear that's missing on the red carpet, and that's what I'm trying to do. "
Working with Waknin was an asset, she said. "A stylist looks at things from the perspective of the red carpet. They have that eye."
"Last season was a little dark, and that wasn't indicative of who Lorena is," Waknin said. "She wears color so beautifully and her energy is so light and uplifting. What she has done now is easy, feminine eveningwear with couture-level details."
The results of the collaboration got the attention of buyers at Neiman Marcus, which will be carrying the collection (priced from $1,830 to $9,990) beginning in October. Lorena Sarbu also sells at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hugo Nicholson and Hirschleifer's.