Fashion

Former models turned designers tap into L.A. then and now

FashionEntertainmentFashion ShowsMargot RobbieAlessandra AmbrosioRobin WrightBoardwalk Empire (tv program)

Los Angeles-based models-turned-fashion-designers Anine Bing and Katheryn Rice both count Alessandra Ambrosio and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley among those stepping out in their clothes, and each captures a take on effortless West Coast style. But the similarities end there.

Both designers "understand what the cool girls like, in a different way. But it's the same girl," says Jeannie Lee, owner of Satine boutique on West 3rd Street, which carries both lines.

Hard rock

Danish-born Bing's eponymous label (www.aninebing.com) has a rock 'n' roll vibe that reflects her other role as front woman for the local band Kill Your Darlings, which she formed in 2009. (The band has been on hiatus since 2011, when Bing had her first child, but a second album is in the works.) The line ($69 to $1,099) may be best known for its skinny zipper-trim jeans (in denim or leather) and second-skin leather moto jackets, spotted on star clients such as Ambrosio, Huntington-Whiteley, Emma Roberts, Jessica Alba, Rachel Bilson, Heidi Klum, Stacy Keibler and Sophia Bush.

"I love to mix feminine and bohemian with rock 'n' roll style, soft and hard elements, pieces you can dress up or down to go from day to night," says Bing, gesturing toward an understated silk V-neck blouse ($159). "For nighttime, you can throw this on with leather jeans and nice jewelry to make it more dressy; for daytime, throw a leather jacket over it."

A model in Sweden from the age of 15, Bing moved to Los Angeles in 2010. Two years later she launched the first pieces of her clothing line. Frustrated over never finding the "perfect jeans," she designed some of her own, along with two leather jackets and two linen-blend T-shirts.

Rather than producing seasonal collections, 31-year-old Bing constantly creates seasonless pieces, building her line as a range of what she considers ultimate closet staples in solid neutrals — silk blouses, minidresses, cashmere sweaters, leather booties, studded belts, sunglasses and delicate fine jewelry. New for spring are hardware-bedecked handbags and lacy lingerie to layer under her semi-sheer tops.

Bing's husband, Nicolai, serves as chief executive and oversees production of the line — apparel, sunglasses and handbags are made in Turkey, footwear and jewelry in L.A. The label is now available in more than 150 stores worldwide, and the company is also planning to open its first boutique in Los Angeles later this year, but a location has not yet been confirmed.

"Anine Bing is a great basics line; they make the perfect T-shirts and incredible denim that's sexy and very clean," boutique owner Lee says. "It's about real simplicity, but there is a distinctiveness to [Bing's] fabrics and her fits and her leather jackets. I think it just fits into the L.A. lifestyle perfectly. Anine herself has an aesthetic and look and image that girls really respond to, and she's built quite a following. It's been a really successful business for us."

Hollywood glam

On the other side of the style spectrum, native Angeleno Katheryn Rice often looks to the 1930s and Old Hollywood as inspiration for her Carmella collection (www.shopcarmella.net), focusing on fluid silk dresses with special details, such as French lace trim, tassel ties and rows of covered buttons that exude relaxed elegance.

"I would watch Old Hollywood films with my grandmother, and that was my first introduction to fashion; I'm still inspired by them," 32-year-old Rice says. "In the beginning, it was Ginger Rogers. I [also] love Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe. Garments fell along the body so beautifully back then. … I never liked dresses to distract from the woman [but, rather] to drape and accentuate the body."

In 2010, after four years of modeling in Europe, an acting stint and a few fashion design classes, Rice got engaged and designed a mini-collection of dresses for her 16 bridesmaids to wear to the wedding in Costa Careyes, Mexico, which was featured in Town & Country magazine. That led to trunk shows and, ultimately, to custom-designing the navy lace dress that Robin Wright wore to the 2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

More recently Ambrosio, Huntington-Whiteley and "The Wolf of Wall Street" star Margot Robbie have worn Carmella designs. In March, Robbie and her stylist, Cristina Ehrlich (who also dresses Penélope Cruz and Tina Fey), hosted an intimate dinner on the Petit Ermitage rooftop in West Hollywood to fete the made-in-L.A. label, which debuts its first full-fledged collection this season. Actresses Jessica Paré and Molly Sims were among those who attended.

"I like every garment to have an ease [but also] a little surprise, like a low neck or low back," Rice says.

With side slits, plunging necklines and sheer insets, the spring line has a definite va-va-voom factor. Rice cites the spirit of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and vintage photos of South American women as further sources of inspiration. Jumpsuits and a new quilted fabrication are highlights of the fall 2014 collection.

"My customers really respond to vintage-inspired styles," Lee says. "Carmella is so cute and easy. It looks sweet, but there's a little sexiness to it with the lingerie-like details. [Rice] just gets every detail right. In L.A., it can't be too covered-up, but it still has to be day-appropriate."

image@latimes.com


Where to find the Anine Bing and Carmella collections

The Anine Bing (www.aninebing.com) and Carmella (www.shopcarmella.net) collections are available at Satine boutique, 8134 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 655-2142, and www.shopbop.com. In addition, Carmella is at Curve boutique in West Hollywood, (310) 360-8008, and Anine Bing is at Madison boutiques in the Los Angeles area, (310) 820-2300.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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