4 Local-Design Phenoms You Need To Know Right Now

It may be our competitive side (okay, that's definitely it), but we get a real thrill out of discovering new talent before the rest of the world — and for us, those discoveries are the most meaningful when the talent is homegrown. There's an undeniable feeling of pride and camaraderie when a gifted creative from our community makes it big, or is teetering right on the brink of doing so.
Since sharing (or, ahem, bragging about) the accomplishments of the DMV's most talented is just as satisfying as finding them, we put together a handy list of the awesome, local designers you need to know now. These are people who've already made some ripples in the style biz (from window displays at Saks to editorial spreads in Vogue) and are repping our little corner of the fashion frontier with gusto. So, click through to discover the short list of names you need to memorize if you want to be an expert on D.C.'s budding design scene.
01 BishmieCromartie2
The designer: Bishme Cromartie
The wares: Women's dresses and separates with gorgeous architectural details
How have your surroundings and growing up in Baltimore influenced your work?
"I think growing up in Baltimore plays a huge role in my work, from the neighborhoods I grew up in to the random inspiration I get from just simply walking around. Baltimore, to me, has a bold but beautiful and artistic feel, and I'd love for my garments to exude that same feeling."
Where do you find inspiration for new concepts?
"I am normally inspired by nature, music, all forms of art, buildings, and, strangely enough, cartoons. I can find myself just in an emotion that I want to express, or even a story I want to tell through my garments. For new concepts, I try not to look for inspiration but allow inspiration to find me. My current collection that I will be showcasing during New York Fashion Week tells a story of a woman who is fighting back and protecting herself from the problems in her life. Basically, a warrior fighting against negativity. I always try to create a message in my collections."
What type of person do you design for? And on that note, who is your dream celeb customer?
"Bishme Cromartie's customer, without a doubt, is a woman who does not second-guess herself. She wants to catch attention and also adores creativity and femininity. I design for the woman who admires art; she's constantly at events and on the go. I love to make clothes for the women who can be feminine, without over-exposing herself. My dream celeb customer would have to be Daphne Guinness."
Photos: Courtesy of Bishme Cromartie
02 claudia_diamantina
The designer: Claudia Diamantina
The wares: To-die-for soft, supple leather bags
How have your D.C. surroundings influenced your work?
"I get inspired by all women leading their daily lives, on their way to work, taking the Metro, riding their bike, taking their kids to school, going to a cocktail party. Diamantina bags are made versatile and functional for [these] everyday situations, and could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion."
Where do you find inspiration for new concepts?
"I find inspiration from old and new .... Sometimes, I run into a vintage piece that is the source of inspiration for an amazing Diamantina bag because of its shape or look. This could be the basis of a concept or prototype — [adding] a few innovative elements like embossed leather patterns, multiple handles, and pockets can make for the perfect Diamantina bag!"
What type of person do you design for? On that note, who is your dream celeb customer?
"The Diamantina customer is anyone who incorporates their own personality into their wearables and does not respond to a norm. I don't really have a dream celebrity customer. Our dream customer is any woman who tells the world who she is through her style."
Photos: Courtesy of Diamantina
03 martihorowitz
The designer: Marti Horowitz of Martí
The wares: Ultra-wearable jersey dresses and jumpsuits
How has growing up in D.C. influenced your work?
"D.C. is such an international city. Growing up, I was exposed to many different cultures. Being surrounded by these cultures inspired me to expand my horizons, travel, and study fashion in Europe."
Where do you find inspiration for new concepts?
"Art, music, street style …. I find inspiration in so many places. Fall 2012 is a reflection of my obsession with '90s fashion, channeling the larger-than-life supermodels. During my design process, I had 'Freedom' by George Michael on repeat."
What type of person do you design for? On that note, who is your dream celeb customer?
"A Martí customer likes to stand out in a crowd and doesn’t just follow the trend, but wears styles that flatter her body. She’s confident enough to do her own thing and not to wear something just because she is told it’s current. Brigitte Bardot epitomizes glamour, and her iconic style represents the Martí philosophy of dressing. Being from D.C., of course, I would love to dress Michelle Obama."
Photos: Courtesy of Martí
04 daisyMcClellan
The designer: Daisy McClellan of Lanyapi
The wares: Vintage-inspired, feminine jewelry
How have your D.C. surroundings influenced your work?
"Though D.C. is a true city, it is a very lush and green one. I'm inspired by [the] parks and beautiful trees throughout town. Many of my designs incorporate trees, birds, flowers, rocks, etc, that I often see throughout this city. I even made a cherry-blossom-tree necklace this spring to celebrate D.C.'s 100th Cherry Blossom Festival."
Where do you find inspiration for new concepts?
"I find inspiration in flea markets. I'm constantly on the hunt for vintage odds and ends I can incorporate into my designs. I love imagining how the components I use were used years ago, and how, now reworked in my designs, they can be loved all over again by someone new."
What type of person do you design for? On that note, who is your dream celeb customer?
"The Lanyapi customer is someone who has a sweet spot for all things vintage. I try to make pieces that can be worn every day but are still interesting — [they] might strike up a conversation with a stranger. I think Zooey Deschanel would be one famous person whose style represents my brand. She has a unique, vintage, feminine style that I find adorable. She would be a dream customer because she isn't afraid to take risks with her wardrobe and accessories choices."
Photos: Courtesy of Lanyapi

More from Designers