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A stylist who defies labels

FASHION CRITIC

Fashion Diary is Times fashion critic Booth Moore’s roundup of gossip, first impressions, trends in the making, celebs and style setters.

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Super-stylist Jen Rade is the anti-Rachel Zoe, and the right stylist for right now. We had breakfast together recently, and I was struck by how grounded she is considering the world she works in. “I’m not a label whore,” says Rade, whose star client is Angelina Jolie. She’s dressed Jolie in everything from Hermes to Max Azria over the years, but the outfits always look comfortable and no-nonsense. “People are like, ‘It’s so great that you pull from Max Azria,’ ” she says. “But why wouldn’t I? I treat every dollar like it’s my own.”

Rade, who lives in the Valley, calls herself a jeans (J. Brand) and T-shirts (Target) kind of girl. And when she’s not in flats, she’s in Cole Haan pumps with Nike Air technology. “I need comfort,” she says. The priciest thing she’s bought for herself lately is a $1,100 Gucci dress, but she’s thinking about returning it because she saw something similar at H&M.;

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She also styles lots of commercials -- 200 for Target alone (she’s working on back-to-school right now). A Philadelphia native, she got her start as a costume designer for an Adam West horror movie that filmed in her college town of Baltimore, then she moved to L.A. and found a niche styling for hip-hop music videos in the ‘90s. “I was one of only two white people at Snoop Dogg’s wedding,” she says.

Rade is a brand ambassador for Ilori, the high-end sunglasses boutique chain. I had never visited one of their stores before we strolled over to Rodeo Drive, and it was pretty impressive. Designed to look more like a gallery than a store, Ilori stocks sunglasses by Lanvin, Loree Rodkin, Thakoon, Derek Lam, Oliver Peoples and more. The frames don’t have those bulky alarm tags, so you can try things on easily. I was particularly fond of an oversized pair of shades by Nina Ricci ($250), a reissue of a style Jackie O wore in the 1970s. Rade snapped up a gray Chanel pair. We both marveled at some neon Oakleys and decided not. If you’re old enough to remember the trend the first time around, don’t go back.

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Raven Kauffman has gone from stylist to personal shopper to luxury lifestyle consultant (clients give her their black American Express cards, she spends their money). After years of consuming for others, Kauffman knows what’s out there. So it’s no surprise that her new line of high-end handbags is pretty extraordinary, using feathers and beetle wings, metallic calf leather with leaf-shaped reliefs, and Art Nouveau laser-cut plates depicting nature scenes. Prices are high ($1,400 to $2,300), but the only other designer doing anything comparable is Bruno Frisoni at Roger Vivier. And his prices are higher.

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So far, Raven Kauffman Couture has limited distribution -- at Maxfield and Des Kohan in L.A.; Tender in Birmingham, Mich.; Forty Five Ten in Dallas; and a few other stores. She narrowly missed a major celeb dressing opportunity in Cannes. (Penelope Cruz was confirmed to carry one of her bags to an event but came down with food poisoning). Still, Kauffman’s in no hurry, happy to stay small and focused until the economy picks up.

In the meantime, you can drool and dream at www.ravenkauffmancouture.com.

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booth.moore@latimes.com


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