L.A.'s hot up-and-coming designers

Los Angeles clothing designer Sunjoo Moon's fashion line Of Two Minds has a Left Bank meets L.A. vibe.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times

Many big-name L.A.-based designers — Rodarte, Gregory Parkinson, Rachel Zoe, Barbara Tfank, Skaist-Taylor and Juan Carlos Obando among them — have already shown their fall 2012 collections at New York Fashion Week. Now in the middle of Los Angeles Fashion Week, it seems like a good time to meet other designers and labels that are shaping the L.A. fashion scene and giving it global reach.

Of Two Minds

The look: L.A.'s answer to Isabel Marant.

The goods: Designer Sunjoo Moon marries Parisian chic and West Coast cool for a world-traveler vibe seen in fur vests, maxi-length dresses done in relaxed 1970s silhouettes, cozy knits and trousers festooned with subtle tribal patterns. Prices run $180 to $1,000.

The back story: After years of working for European fashion houses including Missoni, Thierry Mugler and Kenzo, as well as her Paris-based line and boutique, Moon brought her talents west to create a contemporary collection. With the eclectic and free-spirited line in its third season, Moon continues to reinterpret the Left Bank to Los Angeles inspiration that encourages layering and print-on-print dressing.

Where to find it: Ron Herman, Fred Segal.



The look: Modern wardrobe essentials with a twist.

The goods: The perfect striped T-shirt, the wear-everywhere leather jacket and the dress-up or dress-down pleated maxi-skirt are mainstays of the line, $295 to $1,895. For fall, designer Andrea Lieberman plays with tweeds, paisleys and rubber-coated lace on oversized coats, silk T-shirts and skinny pants.

The back story: A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Lieberman always knew that having her own line was in her future, even as she segued into styling tour and concert wardrobes for P. Diddy, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Eve and other music world stars, culminating in her working with Gwen Stefani on theL.A.M.B. clothing line. Lieberman launched her own collection, A.L.C., in 2009 and has recently expanded the offerings to include jewelry, such as mini-screw stud earrings and twisted nail cuffs.

Where to find it: Barneys New York, Nordstrom,, and Intermix stores.

Raquel Allegra

The look: Artfully distressed.

The goods: Tie-dye print jackets and shorts, shredded jersey and lace layering pieces, cocoon-shaped T-shirts, soft shirt dresses and, for fall, rib knit skirts and leather leggings.

The back story: Allegra first gained a following in 2006 for turning reclaimed L.A. County Jail tees into one-of-a-kind shirts with her signature shredding and tie-dying technique. That idea has since grown into a full line of soft and tailored separates, priced at $150 to $1,300.

Where to find it: Barneys New York,,


The look: Bohemian jet-set accessories hand-stitched in Los Angeles.

The goods: For fall, the classic pancake flat Newbark slipper gets an updated silhouette and a tiny heel. There are also mules covered in caviar-like crystals, ankle boots that can be worn with the backs folded down or up, reversible tartan totes, structured pony-skin bags and soft leather pochette purses with clear plastic windows for displaying a special photo. Prices are $425 to $1,000.

The back story: Stylist sisters Maryam and Marjan Malakpour launched Newbark in 2009 with the goal of producing comfy shoes that could be worn at home, on set or while traveling. Since then, their soft, foldable slippers have become such a hit that they’ve branched into more structured footwear and bags with a similar utilitarian appeal.

Where to find it: Maxfield, Just One Eye and


The look: Head-to-toe dressing with a boho feminine sensibility.

The goods: Easy, washed-silk dresses, satin tops, crinkled maxi-skirts, crisp high-waist pants, tailored velvet jackets, super-soft T-shirts, cashmere capes and lush shearlings, priced at $165 to $2,700. For fall, designer Margaret Maldonado was inspired by “Dr. Zhivago” and traditional Russian clothing. Accessories and jewelry were recently added to the line.

The back story: Launched in 2008 by stylist agent Maldonado, who helped launch the careers of celebrity stylists Rachel Zoe, Andrea Lieberman and Jen Rade. The line was originally conceived as a platform for a different guest designer each season, but now Maldonado does it all.

Where to find it: Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Ron Herman, Barneys New York,

Les Aperizes

The look: Relaxed romantic with a masculine-feminine mix.

The goods: Frilly, high-neck blouses, flowing-yet-functional maxi-dresses, sturdy coats, low-slung trousers borrowed from the boys and high-waist yoke leather pencil skirts, $300 to $2,600.

The back story: Los Angeles couple Laurence Nguyen and Brian Tamborello debuted Les Aperizes for spring ’12. She has a background in fashion (with stints designing for Levi’s, RRL and Christophe Lemaire), and he has a background in music and photography.

Where to find it: Barneys New York, Ikram.


The look: New generation, stylish-yet-understated rocker.

The goods: Buttery leather jackets and accessories and ready-to-wear clothes with a minimal-meets-goth vibe. Each piece is made on-site at the new Cerre atelier situated between art galleries and interior design studios in West Hollywood. Prices range from $75 to $3,500.

The back story: Flavie and Clayton Webster are former models who met posing for some of Paris’ most celebrated designers. The duo started Cerre in 2005, and have since caught the attention of Hollywood’s biggest stylists, celebrities and costume designers. Most recently, they created the custom-made motorcycle jackets and bags for Rooney Mara’s title character in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Where to find it: Cerre, 8920 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood.

J Brand

The look: The L.A uniform. Sleek leather jackets, sharp blazers and tailored menswear-inspired separates that work around a denim-centric wardrobe.

The goods: Elevated basics with an edge. Think boxy leather T-shirts, chunky knitwear done in moody colors like gunmetal and day-to-night slim cut blazers for layering over skinny jeans or leather leggings. Price are $200 to $1,500.

The back story: Since creating its first pair of logo-free skinny jeans in 2005, denim label J Brand has been a favorite of celebrities and fashion insiders. Clean washes and simplicity make the pants easy to pair with high-end pieces. The ready-to-wear line launched for spring 2012 captures the L.A. lifestyle with its easy, seasonless basics similar to fellow Southern California line Vince.

Where to find it: Ron Herman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Intermix.

Clare Vivier

The look: Pared-down bags and pouches for women who would rather show off their style than a flashy label.

The goods: Several shapes and sizes of bags, all made in L.A., that are simple, functional and come in neutrals such as tan, black and navy as well as metallic, leopard print and nude with neon stripes. The signature style is the La Tropézienne leather tote, a chic, no-fuss bag that works year-round. Prices range from $79 to $460.

The back story: Designer Clare Vivier is a former French television producer who started the Silver Lake-based line after she couldn’t find a stylish laptop case. She’s since shifted her focus to bags made from leather and canvas, collaborating with lines including Steven Alan, Theory and Wren.

Where to find it: Steven Alan, Theory, Jenni Kayne.

Annie Costello Brown

The look: Textural, down-to-earth statement jewelry that works with a T-shirt and jeans as well as an evening gown.

The goods: Sculptural pieces made from natural materials like leather and semi-precious stones as well as brass and vintage chains. Priced from $100 to $500.

The back story: Northern California native Annie Costello Brown studied fine art and sculpture, and her training comes through in the quality of her work. Her love of repetition and tactile materials makes for bold pieces that sing rather than scream. In 2009, her jewelry drew the attention of Stefano Pilati, who tapped the designer to collaborate on the first accessory collection for Yves Saint Laurent’s Edition 24 line. She has since created jewelry for Creatures of the Wind, Jesse Kamm, Urban Outfitters and an exclusive line for the Des Kohan boutique.

Where to find it: Ron Herman, Des Kohan and Curve.

Robert Rodriguez

The look: Strong, sexy feminine silhouettes from sharp leather jackets to polished cocktail dresses.

The goods: With four lines under the Robert Rodriguez umbrella (the newest called Robert Rodriguez Edition), the designer covers all the bases of what busy working women want to wear. According to Rodriguez, the Edition line, available for fall 2012, is meant to be an ongoing series of pieces women should have in their wardrobes. This means suiting in slim boyfriend silhouettes, pencil skirts, leather cocktail-length dresses and soft, printed blouses that mix well with basics. Prices range from $295 to $1,195.

The back story: Rodriguez launched his eponymous line in 2003 after working for Christian Dior in Paris. His attention to detail and tailoring elevates classic shapes from office uniform to day-to-night staples.

Where to find it: Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue.


The look: A simple and straightforward line of silk button-down blouses that have garnered a cult following of fashion insiders and trendsetters who use the shirts as go-to wardrobe staples layered under blazers and tucked into tailored trousers.

The goods: Skirts come in bright solid colors, neutrals and whimsical prints like florals and polka dots. After decades of focusing just on a classic button-down shape, Equipment is launching a collection of three cashmere sweater styles as well as offering pajama-style separates that follow the same understated approach to dressing as the silk tops. Priced from $188 to $438.

The back story: French designer Christian Restoin created Equipment in 1975 with a focus on classic, menswear-inspired shirts that chic women wanted to wear (Lauren Bacall was a famous client). After a couple of decades of Paris-based design, Restoin retired the label and it was picked up, revamped and given a Southern California spin by L.A.-based fashion executive Serge Azria (whose other lines include Current/Elliott and Joie). Since the spring 2010 relaunch, Equipment has become a brand popular with fashionable women who like the unfussy nature and versatility of the classic design.

Where to find it: Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.