They were a little bit classical and he was a little bit rock 'n' roll.
When J Brand, a Los Angeles-based jeans maker known for pioneering skinny fits five years ago, wanted to add rock styling to its classic five-pocket, founders Jeff Rudes and Susie Crippen called on Henry Duarte.
Duarte, who also helms a signature denim collection, made a reputation by successfully fusing music with fashion. Duarte came on the fashion radar in 1997, designing outfits for Lenny Kravitz (one of which is in Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and since has clothed Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Steven Tyler and Carlos Santana. He also outfitted actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie. The Torrance native is a recognizable figure in the local fashion community with his Small Faces-era Rod Stewart haircut and slim-fitting Mod suits and jeans.
The J Brand/Henry Duarte collaboration, which retails around $250, hits selected shops, including American Rag, this week.
Previously, J Brand collaborated with designer Hussein Chalayan, who works from London, in 2009 and the British chain Topshop in 2008.
"J Brand jeans are a perfect plain canvas to play with," says Duarte, referring to the brand's lack of embellishment -- even its back-pockets eschew any trademark arc or loop stitching.
Crippen, J Brand's creative director, says that she and Rudes had been friends and fans of Duarte for nearly a decade. When the designers collaborated, she says, she made sure his designs would suit J Brand's "clean" aesthetic. "Henry is super over-the-top, and we wanted to switch things up but never get rid of core styles," she says.
Duarte designed three styles for J Brand/Henry Duarte. Two of these -- the Ziggy ($209) and the Suffragette ($284) -- pay homage to his musical hero, David Bowie. The denims use Duarte's handcrafted zipper pulls and lace-up front, respectively.
Duarte says the exposed zippers in the Ziggy black stretch-denim jean came from watching Bowie strut in a similar pair in his "Jean Genie" video.
"Bowie is the ultimate rock star," he says. "Not only his music, but every album he has had a different look; many artists still try to do that today."
Duarte designed a jean called the Raygun ($240) with a lace-up feature that subtly references his Southern California car-culture upbringing with side-panels on coated denim inspired by a classic Pontiac Trans-Am. The designer drove a '73 Dodge Charger back in the day.
"I wish I would have kept that car," Duarte says.
J Brand/Henry Duarte can be found at American Rag stores in Los Angeles and Newport Beach's Fashion Island.
150 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 935-3154. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
401 Newport Center Drive, Suite 953, Newport Beach. (949) 760-1510. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Rimowa Today: The German luxury luggage maker opens its first California boutique on Rodeo Drive. The store will stock the brand's classic Topas and Tango pieces, including the lightest hard-case luggage in the world -- according to TÜV Rheinland, an international product testing organization -- the Salsa Air ($405 to $540).
332 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 888-8686. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Agent Provocateur Saturday: The purveyor of luxury lingerie has its annual winter sale, discounting selected sets by 50%. Check out the $180 leopard-print Iona bodysuit (regular price $350) and the $150 neon Cara slips ($290).
7961 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 653-0229. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
FIDM ongoing through Dec. 24: The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum expands its museum shop days and hours for holiday shopping. Present your budding designer with a "Project Runway" fashion design studio set ($32.50). Special discounts of up to 40% on Tarina Tarantino jewelry and "High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture" merchandise such as the Betsy bag ($26.25) and key chain ($15). Custom gift baskets can be created.
919 Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 623-5821. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closes at 1 p.m. Dec. 24.