Southern Comfort

The Deep South meets the Big City in the new line Harlan Bel. By Victoria Spencer
When asked to describe her new line, Harlan Bel, the usually voluble designer Brandy Lunsford is at a loss for words. But she knows just who she designs for: "Girls who want to try different things and push themselves." She adds quickly, "The clothes shouldn't wear the person. It's important that you feel good in them." Her designs fuse modern and vintage and always have a clearly defined structure, resulting in pieces that are functional yet pleasingly soft to the hand.
Lunsford acknowledges she feeds off the energy of New York where she now resides, yet her southern upbringing also offers strong influences. Raised in Harlan County, Kentucky, in the mountains of the Bluegrass state, Lunsford named her line after her home county honoring the influence her background and family have extended. "Grandmother was always very stylish, even just on a Saturday morning or going to church."
A wood-print blouse and olive flannel button-up dress from the designer's debut fall collection might work for church, but smartened-up details make them just as ripe for the big city. With its earthy palette and jodhpur-like pants, the collection shows a strong equestrian influence—no surprise given Lunsford was a world-champion horseback rider. "[Competitive riding] gave me the confidence to be in control. You can't give up or slack—the rules are the same in fashion," she says. This anti-slacker sentiment is no doubt why after stints at Jill Stuart and Victoria Bartlett Lunsford has launched such an assuredly chic line at just 25—and her spring collection is hard evidence. With its bandage dresses and accordion-pleat skirts, the range of pieces exceeds the designer's cheerful intentions. "Brighter, fresher, cleaner," she says. "That's the way I feel about spring." We couldn't agree more.
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The Deep South meets the Big City in the new line Harlan Bel.

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