Eight designers you need to know in 2009. By Xiyin Tang
There's no doubt about it: It's a harrowing time to be a new store, a new site, and definitely a new designer. But for some young mavericks, this tough and ultra-critical environment will surely separate the wheat from the chaff. And after all is said and done a few new names will still make some buzz this year. Here are our picks for the top eight designers you've got every darn right to get excited about:
Who He Is: A Spanish designer who is BFFs and studio-mates with Julia Restoin-Roitfeld and downtown "It" chick Pamela Love.
Why He's Hot: Sure, having friends in high places can't hurt, but it's his clothes—expertly tailored, daringly executed—that will propel him to cream-of-the-crop status this year. His spring '09 collection, a dazzling array of tulle and pleated cocktail frocks in a minimalist reduction of blacks and blues, held all the promise of a young Giles Deacon with the cool-girl turn-out (Leigh Lezark, Julia Reston-Roitfeld) of a Ben Cho show. Will 2009 be the Year for Frank? Time will tell.
Who She Is: Australian-based designer named One to Watch by UK Sunday Times and Marie Claire, among others
Why She's Hot: If a Target collaboration is a sure-fire indicator of success, then Bae is already headed for the big-time. Her capsule collection for the retail giant may not be available in the States, but we have a feeling Bae's main line, a feminine and delicate collection of separates and frocks, will be making major waves across the pond this year. Carried at Barneys and featured in Harper's Bazaar, we figure it's only a matter of time before it's worn by Park Avenue socialites and downtown tastemakers alike.
Who She Is: The Charlottesville, Virginia-born native and London-raised Stolle was one of our fave designers from this past Fashion Week, and has also worked closely with another one of our fave designers, Peter Jensen, for nearly a decade.
Why She's Hot: Quirky Stolle makes the kind of clothes we can imagine the fashion-forward girl in high school wearing…you know, the one who gets flack for refusing to follow the trends, only to come back as the coolest girl in school at the 10-year-reunion. There is a reason her spring '09 line was titled "Women Who Wished They Were Sluts in High School," after all.
Who He Is: After stints as Design Director at both Derek Lam and Mayle, Monteiro broke out on his own to launch his eponymous line in fall 2008 (he also co-designs for Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth's line, Mirror/Dash).
Why He's Hot: If anyone can take on Alexander Wang's reigning title as the go-to label for cool-girls-in-the-know, we're willing to bet Jeffrey Monteiro is it. The cut-out minidresses with oversized pockets and slouchy shorts have hints of Wang, but the beautifully draped maxidresses and soft, romantic blouses are all Jeffrey.


Who He Is: For fans of Morphine Generation's brooding romantic hoodies and tees, rocker-turned-designer Erik Hart has branched out once again, and this time into slightly more fanciful territory.
Why He's Hot: His namesake line, Erik Hart: Factory of Aesthetics & Dreams, may sound dark, but one look through his spring '09 collection reveals a pleasant surprise. Think pretty silk blouses tucked into black tiered skirts, or a gray knit dress shot through with a bold yellow belt. The tiny rainbow in this mean economic storm? You bet.
Who They Are: Pronounced "garde," this design collective (Ken Li, Chris Viggiano, Jonathan Delagarde, and Jiminie Ha) has all the pedigree of a star in the making, including a combination of design stints at Gap, Missoni, and Calvin Klein, and even an MFA from Yale.
Why They're Hot: Think that resume is impressive? Wait 'til you take a gander at the clothes: leather jackets with oversized hoods, bombers lined in winter-ready plaid, and jersey dresses with impeccably clean lines. These are clothes meant for braving the urban jungle, all done with a mission in mind: The leather comes from small Italian producers in an effort to encourage local sustainability. Looking good and feeling good? Now that's a New Year's Resolution we're willing to keep.
Who They Are: A Brooklyn-based line created by partners Samantha Pleet (who has her own adorable line of jumpers and sweet dresses) and Eviana Hartman (former features editor at Nylon).
Why They're Hot: It's eco-chic with an adventurous streak. You may think you're sick of all these new environmentally friendly lines popping up, but their dresses and minis—surprisingly sexy, refreshingly hip, and, of course, ethically sustainable—might just give you a reason to go green (if you haven't already). Did you ever think you could help out the planet by wearing a cool and seductive bustier? Yeah, us neither.
Who He Is: A Canadian-born stylist-turned-designer with just three collections underneath his belt and a killer video for Mode Models that sky-rocketed him to cult-like status within the fashion elite.
Why He's Hot: Already garnering comparisons to Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester, Hourani turned out an epic all-black third collection, proving that, though Canadian, New York might be where his heart is. Angular, sleek, intense, and did we mention unisex? These clothes prove that no matter what the season, true style (and solid talent) is timeless.
Eight designers you need to know in 2009.

More from Fashion

R29 Original Series