By Andi Teran
"For some reason we are always on the same page, we scare each other sometimes," says designer Caroline Hedaya of her design partner Donna Baxter. "Very often we both come into the office in the morning with the same ideas."
Working out of Manhattan's historic Fashion District in a studio outfitted in turquoise carpet, neon orange chairs, and a soundtrack ranging from Jenny Lewis to Phil Collins, the twosome merge their youthful synergy to create classic tailored pieces with a sassy-sexy twist. "We like to keep it very light in our office," says Caroline. "There's not a day that goes by where we are not laughing at each other."
Caroline and Donna met while studying fashion design and parlayed their dual dreams of designing into a joint effort immediately upon graduation from F.I.T. in 2004. Pairing Donna's love of natural elements with the inspirational YSL and Gucci-filled closet of Caroline's grandmother, they set out to create timeless pieces with a contemporary spunk.
"We work with mainly very structured, tailored silhouettes," says Caroline. "[Then] adding a sense of humor by using flirty polka dots or peplums and ruffles in out-of-the-ordinary places." Further inspiration was drawn from the vision of a young Jackie Kennedy, and the results earned Caroline Hedaya a slot in this past February's New York Fashion Week. "Spring 2006 was our first collection, our baby, so we experimented a lot."
Keeping with a color palette of mostly navy, beige, and white, immediate standouts include a cowl-neck houndstooth jacket, sleek high-waisted shorts, and gauzy shifts that delicately hug the body. Throw in a striped skirt with playful suspenders, cap-sleeved dresses with bum-ruffles, and a cream waistcoat with the aforementioned peplum buoying off the back, and you have playful pieces for virtually every body type. Each piece—like the designers themselves—is equal parts pep and wit.
Making your debut at Olympus Fashion Week shortly after graduating from F.I.T. sure isn't a bad way to get your budding career off the ground. For the tag-team duo behind the label Caroline Hedaya, spring 2006 heralded not only a beautiful friendship but also a solid place in the annals of fashion.