Our picks for the best new designers of 2007. By Pamela Liou
Here's a thought: Every single designer in the fashion pantheon started out as a precocious newbie bent on mixing things up. With a little moxy and lots of talent, they built ironclad legacies, but established as they may be, they can't keep a stranglehold on the industry forever. Each year there are more and more lines—some good, but most…not—jumping into the ring. And occasionally there comes along that rare tenderfoot who manages to hold his/her own and deliver something new. For 2007, these are our Designers to Watch.
If you take the construction of petit mains and apply it to William Gibson-inspired cyberpunk, you wind up with Ohne Titel. Alexa Adams and Flora Gill both attended Parsons and went on to work for Karl Lagerfeld before starting their own line. From disparate influences like Art Brut and African geometric patterns, the pair gleans an aesthetic all their own. Their preoccupations with challenging silhouettes don't compromise functionality, and as conceptual as the designs may be, Adams and Gill still embrace the natural curve of the woman's body, albeit it with fabrics like rip-stop nylon, plastic raffia, and neoprene. Read more...
For more information, go to www.ohnetitel.com.
Take one look at Chris Benz's debut sportswear collection, and it's hard to believe that he has only a few collections under his belt. This Seattle native designs for the fashionable, yet irreverent tomboy. Benz pays close attention to texture, combining hard elements like flapper-like long chains and soft touches exhibited in his must-have mohair jacket. The line is deceptively simple, often erring on the side of relaxed. His garments keep to a very edited palette: grays and whites, with the intermittent shocks of Pantone. Read more... See video...
For more information, go to www.chris-benz.com.
After modeling for the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and styling for Harper's Bazaar, Stine Goya honed her already preternatural knack for color and proportion at the elite Central St. Martins. She emerged with a collection exploding with prints and a refreshing palette of saffron, sea-foam blue, and lemon. Goya is unafraid of experimentation, pairing challenging proportions with unexpected elements; in her spring '08 collection, she incorporates sophisticated origami-inspired obis and thatched sheer leggings. Read more...
For more information, go to www.stinegoya.com.
Newcomer Abigail Lorick reacquaints the downtown girl with an ages-old uptown elegance that's still pleasingly modern. Applying her intuition of the practical and playful—perhaps drawn from her tenure as a Ford model or design work at T.S. Dixin—Lorick has fast become a force to be reckoned with. From her bustier dress to a backless ruby-orange number, it's impossible to put on one of her transporting designs without feeling the emergence of your inner lady.
For more information, go to www.loricknewyork.com.
The story of the collaborative behind Heimstone proves opposites attract: Delphine Delafon loves hard, punk elements and partner Alix Petit opts for delicate femininity, but together, they're just right. The two met while working for Michel Klein, and their union resulted in a perfectly balanced collection with a unique interplay of light and dark. There is an inherent tension between the form and material of these paradoxical garments: motorcycle jackets are made from silk and velvet, while a girlish frock is wrought from jute. Read more...
For more information, go to www.heimstone.com.
House of Dagmar
Stockholm-based sisters Kristina Tjader, Sofia Malm, and Karin Soderlind collaborated to create one of the fresher fashion debuts, House of Dagmar. Drawing from Abstract Expressionism and organic forms found in nature, this design triumvirate plays with structure through soft materials like body-conscious knits and cotton. Their garments have an inherent sense of ease, without compromising concept. Read more...
For more information, go to www.houseofdagmar.com.
Nominated for the CFDA's 2007 Swarovski Award for new talent, Hamilton is well on his way to becoming America's next great menswear guru. This wunderkind, taking cues from his American heartland roots in Iowa and Kerouac's journeyman mentality, creates a line of rugged sophistication merged with clever utility. Think sweaters with detachable turtlenecks, wool blazers with narrow lapels, and a re-invigoration of the iconic long-sleeve thermal with militaristic bullion accents. Read More...
Even the name Endovanera suggests designers David Michael Hershberger and Mitch Moseley's penchant for the old and erstwhile. Their collection straddles contemporary menswear with pre-industrial craftsmanship. Hershberger, who began his career hand-sewing denim, still hand-drafts all his patterns like the old masters. The clothes themselves are retroactive, too—WWII-era long trench-coats and double-breasted shirts—but they're the furthest things from period pieces. In the age of machinery and automation, it's new to return to virtuosity that was once a standard, not a luxury. Read more...
For more information, go to www.endovanera.com.
It's hard not to be bowled over by Robert Geller's tailored-within-an-inch-of-its-life oxford shirts, trousers, and jackets. Geller is no stranger to accolades—his partnership with Alexander Plohkov for Cloak won him a CFDA award—and his eponymous line will continue in a tradition of decidedly cool refinement. For his spring '08 collection, Geller looked toward 1970s then-burgeoning skate culture and James Dean, with the occasional nod to Mod. He keeps the palette lively with bright colors in unexepected places, like Chesterfield shorts or chartreuse denim. Read More...
For more information, go to www.robertgeller-ny.com.
This designer doesn't shy away from fancy footwork. After putting in time for shoe designers Jimmy Cho and Cacharel, Kelsey launched his own line of two-tone pumps, platform boots, and metallic heels. His shoes were quickly snatched up like the likes of Saks and Net-a-porter who were quick to declare Kelsey the "British Louboutin." In fact, Kelsey draws his strengths from where he departs from the French master—his balancing act of soft and hard, tough and delicate extend to his overall form as well as all the finer details.
For more information, go to www.jonathankelsey.com.
Our picks for the best new designers of 2007.