On Track: Noble Youth Rides Fashion's Rails

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Amtrak most likely will never rank among the world's most influential fashion quorums. Yet, it so happens to be the birthplace of one particularly innovative line. Noble Youth, the product of one fateful day in 2005 when designers Megan Quinn and Ned Shatzer met on their way from Baltimore to New York, proves with its Fall 2008 collection to be a quiet force on the scene.
Quinn's Fine Arts background—she graduated from the Maryland Institute of Art with a degree in sculpture—reveals itself as a close attention to form: the collection's inventive silhouettes (particularly those of the neatly structured jackets) display an undiminished interest in creating works of art. Even the color palette, inspired by the muted colors in cityscapes by Austrian painter Egon Schiele, pays homage to the art world.
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Still, the designers have not sacrificed wearability for the sake of artistic innovation. Shatzer's penchant for reworking vintage finds to his liking seems to have played a role; though the drop waists and loose silhouettes undeniably recall the androgyny of the 1920s and Coco-era Chanel, here they manage to look modern and fresh. A loose, calf-length frock instantly reminds of a 1920's housedress, yet the feather print—the result of a collaboration with London illustrator Claire Scully—pretties it up and makes it 2008-appropriate.
It isn't often that a line brings together this many disparate influences into so cohesive a collection. Yet here the period references, art influences, and original prints not only work together but complement each other beautifully. Whoever sat these two designers next to each other was a genius. We're buying a ticket immediately.
Noble Youth is available at Sir, 360 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-643-6877; www.sirbrooklyn.com and Jessie James, 95 Greenwich Avenue, New York, 212-217-9944 ; www.jessiejamesonline.com. For more information and online sales visit www.nobleyouth.net.

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