High Phi

Phi_opener By Lisa Stasiulewicz
Talk about starting young.
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Norway native and Phi designer Andreas Melbostad was buying American and British Vogue before she could even read English, and by 14, he was mailing sketches to Jean Paul Gaultier, who encouraged him to continue developing his talent.
Not surprisingly, Andreas did just that, rising to design director at both Donna Karan and Calvin Klein before joining fledgling line Phi, the brainchild of Susan Dell, socialite and wife of computer mogul Steve Dell. Andreas's training with some of the world's best couturiers-including Alber Elbaz, Nathalie Gervais, and Calvin Klein-is evident in the attention to detail in his garments, including the precise pin-tucked pleats and bows on the blouses in the Spring 2006 collection. "We want to keep the clothes exciting and interesting each season," the designer says. "Most often, our customers return for the level of design thinking in our clothes-the great fit, the caliber of the fabrics, [and] artisan-level detailing."
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Inspired by Ossie Clark's work, especially his textile collaborations with Celia Birtwell, Fall 2006 is rich with vivid, playful prints cut into bias-cut dresses paired with streamlined, high-waisted coats. Pants also accentuate the waist and are cut in retro, flowing flares, a welcome silhouette in response to the current drainpipe phenomenon. Melbostad may well be receiving sketches in the mail from other budding fashion phenoms before long.
Phi is located at 71 Greene Street, 212-966-0076; www.phicollection.com.
What happens when a hopeful designer starts mailing sketches to Jean Paul Gaultier at age 14? He grows up to spearhead an inspiring young womenswear line all his own.
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