L.A.-designer Katy Rodriquez gives the party dress a new point of view. By Dena Smolek
She's the brains behind a concise new line of sharp, yet graceful dresses, but L.A.-based designer Katy Rodriguez is by no means a newcomer to fashion. For over a decade, she's been luring stylists and starlets alike to Resurrection Vintage, the legendary L.A. and New York City boutiques she co-owns with partner Mark Haddawy.
"My experience with Resurrection exposed me to all of the best designers from the last century," Rodriquez says. "I've had the chance to work with a lot of people whom I wouldn't have had contact with otherwise, and that really helped to inspire my own line and how I wanted to approach it."
Beginning with just a single design, the Criss Cross dress, Rodriguez quietly launched her eponymous label. The dress, which sold at the pair's bi-coastal shops, was an immediate hit among Resurrection regulars. And the confirmation prompted the designer to begin drafting her first complete collection. Each piece in her line embodies Rodriguez's belief that an elegant frock should still be comfortable and ultimately coax the inner radiance out of the wearer. "I try to make dresses that allow a woman's beauty and style to come first, before the dress," she says." There is no formula for this. I just try to make women feel good inside when they put on one of my designs."
This past fall, Katy was selected for the Gen Art Fresh Faces presentation and unveiled her line at New York Fashion Week. It is her pure, straightforward approach to classic femininity that seems to captivate most women initially. But upon closer inspection the discovery of choice linings and studied French seams gives this designer's garments an elegant structure and presence.
Tank Twist Dress with jacket, Romper, Strapless Twist Dress, and the Criss Cross dress, all from the spring/summer '07 collection
Individuality factors high for Rodriquez, as well. She uses a mix of vintage and custom fabric to ensure each dress is unique however subtle. The silks used are all custom-dyed, and in the case of the Ballet dress, the fabric is also washed, to give it a softer look and feel. Best of all, each dress is hand-sewn right in Los Angeles. The original Criss Cross remains among the most popular, but Rodriquez has her own favorite. "I love the Twist dress best," she says. "It's just my favorite, especially the strapless version because you can wear it with or without a belt or layer it over a T-shirt shirt or bodysuit. You can even wear it as a skirt, it's so versatile." Other favorite designs for spring include a prim ruffled Tunic dress that works on its own or with a lean pair of cropped drainpipes. The Romper, in glamorous satin, has a sort of androgynous elegance that's surprisingly appealing.
In the not-too-distant future, she hopes to open boutiques for the Katy Rodriguez collection. So, ladies, get your resumes ready—this designer adores doing fittings with her staff. "I like trying the dresses on all the girls and getting their opinions," she says. "You can always count on the best ideas popping up when we're just sitting around talking about the clothes all together."
Ruffle Tunic and Bubble Dress, both from the spring/summer '07 collection
Katy Rodriguez is available at Resurrection Vintage in New York, 217 Mott Street, 212-625-1374, and in Los Angeles, 8006 Melrose Avenue, 323-651-5516, as well as Diavolina and Satine in Los Angeles. For more info, go to www.resurrectionvintage.com
L.A.-designer Katy Rodriquez gives the party dress a new point of view.