Natalie Martin, L.A. designer to know (and wear)

Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic

Designer Natalie Martin has mastered the art of gypset dressing, L.A.-style.

In two years, the Aussie transplant has emerged as a go-to for boho-chic styles, including breezy kurtas, tunics, wrap skirts and maxi dresses, all priced under $300, and all crafted out of colorful, Balinese block print silks.

Martin has a background in fashion marketing, putting in years at Italian leather goods brands Tod’s and Hogan. “I always wanted to start my own line, and especially do dresses,” says the designer, who embodies her boho brand, living in Coldwater Canyon with her husband, Kevin Martin, a musician in the band Candlebox, and their son Jasper.


Her namesake collection, which is sold at Barneys New York, Calypso St. Barth and other boutiques, as well and on her own website, brings a touch of Bali to L.A.

“Growing up in Australia, we went to Bali a lot for vacation. I loved the embroidery, eyelets and webbing that the artisans do there. It does take confidence to wear bright prints, but my shapes are forgiving enough that anyone can wear them and look great. And because they are all hand-printed, no one is the same,” she says.

Martin also sells necklaces made out of leftover fabric, and will be dabbling in more accessories for fall, including leather totes and fringed suede shawls.

She travels to Bali three times a year to oversee production. “It’s so inspiring--the beaches and the beautiful tanned girls riding mopeds with their dresses billowing behind them.” (The photos from her lookbook, seen above, and shot around L.A., have a similar vibe.)

Martin’s fans are equally inspired, some even likening her work to that of the ever-popular Isabel Marant. “Her clothes nod to resort-holiday living, but can also be sophisticated and worn in a city for a more ‘fashion’ vibe,” says stylist Anna Roth-Milner, who hosted Martin’s first trunk show at her home in 2011, an event that proved to be so popular, it was extended into a second day to accommodate the 400 or so shoppers. “The fabrics and silhouettes are just the things people want to wear.”

Natalie Martin Collection, $45 to $245,


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