Variety polled four hot designers with local roots for their take on what L.A.’s women should wear most, given the region’s almost endless summer and the supercasual social whirl.
Karyn Craven of Burning Torch
Vintage fabrics and pieces remade with a modern twist defined Karyn Craven’s initial collection for Burning Torch three years ago. As her collection and following have grown, Craven continues to recycle fabrics, but now mixes in new materials in a melange of cultures, patterns and shapes.
“There’s a feeling of urban bohemia as Angelenos are more open to different things,” says Craven, whose clients include Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford, Meg Ryan, Demi Moore and Michelle Pfeiffer. “Here casual chic is defined by a way of dressing — mixing casual and more dressy.”
On Angelenos’ timeless look: There are items that are always happening, like a lightweight knit T-shirt, which can be worn even if it’s cold, with a big coat. Go for a lighter fabric when it’s warm and darker colors in the fall.
Warm weather looks that are comfortable and feminine: I would say here it’s about easy shapes, drawstring pants, or a soft, sexy skirt, all made from lightweight fabrics. Lingerie-inspired tops and sexy camisoles work also.
Best casual chic for real women who have curves: I would say a circle skirt with a great sexy white tank top and a pair of high-heeled sandals. Second choice, low-rise drawstring pants in novelty pattern with a sexy top. Depending on where you’re going, add a lightweight superfine twill jacket.
Anticipating the paparazzi: First, choose things you really feel comfortable in; if you feel comfortable then you’ll feel confident. Don’t be a fashion victim, be yourself.
Is there a happy medium between classic and unique? I think that both should exist simultaneously in one’s wardrobe.
Must-have accessory du jour: It’s a toss-up between a great pair of sexy high-heeled sandals or chunky bracelets made from organic, raw materials like stone, wood or leather.
127 E. Ninth (showroom); (323) 733-7000
Pamela Skaist-Levy of Juicy Couture
From humble beginnings in a Paicoma garage and a search for a perfect gorgeous T-shirt, the Juicy girls, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor have cut out a fashion empire centered around luxurious sweat suits.
“We love that we get copied all the time because it validates us,” says Skaist-Levy, whose bevy of celeb clients includes Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry. The firm is now in production on 10 different lines.
L.A.’s timeless look: I’ve gone out to formal dinners and casual lunches wearing easy, comfortable pants paired with kitten heels. Add a Chanel jacket at night, denim or twill jacket during the day and that is the L.A. uniform. People wear a Juicy tracksuit and pair it up with something else to dress it up. I wore it to a dinner party with Vogue at night and to the beach the next day.
Comfort and femininity: I think that is Juicy. We are casual luxury, pure comfort. Our pants are a variation of sweat pants and are feminine because of the great silhouette, fabric, colors and detail.
Women with curves: You don’t have to be a waif to wear Juicy. Otherwise a silk cardigan or linen caftans looks great on many women — easy, loose clothes.
Paparazzi alert: For me: I hate the bare-midriff look, showing a little skin is fine, but less is more. Wear something sexy, casual, and mix it with something great, like a Hermes or Chanel piece. Don’t take it too seriously. You go wrong when you try too hard.
Between classic and unique: I never think classic is boring. Wear something understated with a great piece of jewelry and you can never go wrong. If you feel good in clothes and are healthy, you’ll look great.
Accessory du jour: The accessory not only of the moment, but hopefully the next 50 years, is a Hermes Birkin. It lasts forever, so it’s the only bag you ever have to buy.
Eduardo Lucero cuts his colorful, figure-flattering, custom-made line for curvy girls. At his Beverly Boulevard atelier, racks are filled with his samples in brocades, lace, organzas, prints — many enlivened with ornate beading. It’s L.A.’s own haute couture with a Latin flair, and Lucero’s fashions have gained a following that includes J.Lo, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz.
L.A.’s timeless look: Women take better care of their bodies here. Obviously they want to show them off. They also tend to have different coloring, more of a tan, so women can wear more color.
Comfort and femininity: The great thing about L.A. is that you can have both: have jeans and camisole in the day, but they do dress up in evening. But the way they do dress up is to take evening pieces but break them down. Short and asymmetrical skirts are the way to go. Wear a dressy skirt with a casual top, maybe a really dressy long dress with thrown-on hair rather than salon hair — always has to look like you threw it on but it looks amazing and it wasn’t so planned.
Women with curves: Our ruffled camisole dress gives you really great cleavage and if you have long legs it looks amazing. For casual, I would definitely do something with color. Great animal prints are fun. Depends so much on the woman and what their skin color is like.
Paparazzi alert: Make sure you have the right undergarment if you’re wearing something shear. Don’t overaccessorize. Make it look like you just threw it on. You have to have great shoes; that’s really important.
Between classic & unique: The happy medium is when you mix it up a little bit; don’t do one look from head to toe. Do hippest, trendiest top with something you’re used to like a favorite pair of jeans or black tuxedo trousers. Give them something that is already identifiable and then twist it up with the newest look.
Accessory du jour: Long, big earrings: the bigger the better. They make you look like you’re going to a party even if you’re staying home or going grocery shopping. If you’re going to wear something trendy or of the moment, try to catch the trend at the beginning rather than the end.
7378 Beverly Blvd.; (323) 933-2778
Henry Duarte’s clingy, narrow jeans epitomize the rock ‘n’ roll look for men and women. From his Melrose Avenue store, a world unto itself behind frosted-glass panels, Duarte vends his ultimate hipster threads to the likes of Axl Rose, Salma Hayek and Nicole Kidman.
L.A.’s timeless look: Suede, leather and denims work all year round and travel all over the world. They transcend seasons. They’re classic and there’s no timelines on them.
Comfort and femininity: Jeans is the language — more jeans, hot pants and sandals. It’s the California look that works all over the world.
Women with curves: Jeans: because there are so many designers and they each cut differently. Even girls with wide hips look great in jeans.
Paparazzi alert: The worst thing is to wear anything so over the top they can pick on you. If you think you’re going too creative, don’t do it unless you’re up for the criticism.
Between classic and unique: The happy medium is your own unique style. What is classic of today? Retro can be classic. Break down classic pieces (like a Chanel suit) and mix and match.
Accessory du jour: A dog in a dog bag
7977 Melrose Ave.; (323) 655-8861