Designer of the Week

Designer of the Week

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Betsey Johnson

"Making clothes involves what I like...color, pattern, shape and movement...I like the everyday process...the people, the pressure, the surprise of seeing the work come alive walking and dancing around on strangers. Like red lipstick on the mouth, my products wake up and brighten and bring the wearer to life...drawing attention to her beauty and specialness...her moods and movements...her dreams and fantasies." - Betsey Johnson.

New York designer Betsey Johnson has built her long-standing career in fashion by following her own set of rules. Known for her celebration of the exuberant, the embellished, and the over the top, Betsey has been rocking the fashion industry with her unique and original designs since the 1960's.

Betsey was born in Connecticut and spent her childhood in dance classes. Her aspirations to be a dancer and her love for costumes laid the foundation for Betsey's creativity and inspiration. In 1964, Betsey officially entered the New York fashion scene by winning Mademoiselle magazine's "Guest Editor Contest." One year later, she landed the top designer position for Paraphernalia, a clothing boutique that at the time housed the hottest young London designers. Now firmly part of what was considered the "Youth Quake," Betsey soon found herself in the unforgettable 1960's Warhol scene. Edie Sedgwick was her house model, while the Velvet Underground's John Cale took to wearing her designs both on-stage and off.

After a decade of designing for other labels, Betsey decided to make a dramatic change in her life and in 1978, she formed a partnership with Chantal Bacon and started the Betsey Johnson label. Today there are over fifty Betsey Johnson stores worldwide.

In late 2002, Betsey was honored with an induction into the Fashion Walk of Fame. A bronze and granite plaque containing an original sketch, signature and biography was embedded into Seventh Avenue sidewalk in early 2003. In March 2005, the Signature Awards and NAWBO-NYC committee honored Betsey with the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award. And following that, Betsey received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Accessories Council in November 2005. Betsey Johnson was recently honored with the Designer of the Year Award at the annual American Apparel and Footwear Association's Image Awards in May 2006.

A survivor of breast cancer, Betsey continues to be a strong advocate in the fight against the disease, making public appearances, participating in numerous fund raising events and creating one-of-a-kind items for charity auction. Betsey Johnson, both the woman and the label, is constantly moving forward and continues to keep a strong foothold in the fashion industry with no signs of letting up anytime soon. Her enthusiasm, creativity and boundless talent that have kept her at the forefront of fashion for the past 40 years will keep Betsey going for years to come.

Previous Designers of the Week

Dutchy Handbags

Hailing from San Francisco, Audree Halasz imbues her unique line of Dutchy handbags with a love of classic design and a dash of carpe diem attitude.

Named after her father's mischievous boyhood reputation, the handbags follow suit with surprising details like eccentric brocade linings, beautiful beading and careful details. Halasz uses rare vintage fabrics whenever possible to complement the line's rich color palette of luxurious Italian leathers. Drawing inspiration from architecture, vintage treasures and daily life, Dutchy often features geometric forms sculpted in buttery soft leather to create a paradox of shape and texture. Utility is especially considered so items are kept organized and within reach for her busy clientele. It's no wonder celebrity fashionistas like Paris Hilton are snatching them up!

Check out Dutchy's delicious Spring menu and look for bright colors and new styles in Spring.

Karen Zambos

Chicago transplant-turned one of Hollywood's hottest designers, Karen Zambos, has gained a cult following among fashionista and famous fans alike. Zambos' "vintage couture" designs possess a signature appeal that stands way out among the crowded designer market of Los Angeles. Inspired by vintage pieces, the line reflects the no-fuss casual cool attitude of tinsel town culture. Part angst hipster, part glamorous starlet, the line has a multi-faceted personality befitting its discerning clientele.

Zambos began her career in fashion working at the posh Tracey Ross boutique where customers include some of Hollywood's biggest names. Zambos' innate talent for redesigning vintage pieces with only a pair of scissors and five minutes on her sewing machine was the beginning of her very own line. Her funky creations started flying out the door and Karen Zambos Vintage Couture was born.

Karen Zambos celebrity fans include, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Selma Blair, Kate Beckinsale, Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Christina Aguilera, Jessica and Ashley Simpson, as well as Nicole Richie. Check out the very latest from Karen Zambos at CoutureCandy!

Ella Moss

Los Angeles native and Ella Moss designer extraordinaire, Pamella Protzel has always possessed an innate sense of design. Fascinated by everything fashion, Pamella would spend hours as a teen browsing Parisian flea markets and the posh boutiques of Beverly Hills. Her love of art led her to a Graphic design emphasis at the Pasadena College Art Center for Design. She soon returned to her first love of fashion and attended FIDM after wardrobe stylists insisted on borrowing Pamella's homemade designs.

Relying on intuition instead of technicalities, Pamella chooses to design by feel rather than rules. Her experimental style has led to signature Ella Moss pieces like the stripe series, a sublime reinterpretation of a comfy tee into a casual yet elegant dress.

With its effortlessly cool attitude and ultra-soft fabrics, Ella Moss has collected quite the celebrity following including, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwen Stefani, Hillary duff, Heidi Klum, Scarlett Johansson, and Liv Tyler. The line is also regularly featured in fashion publications including InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Glamour, Vogue, Elle, Jane, Lucky, Glamour and the like.

ARISTOCRAT

Designer Bob Bak launched ARISTOCRAT Denim in the Spring of 2007 with the purpose of designing denim that is as luxurious on the inside as on the outside. Bak's chemistry degree allows him to delve further into the creative process than most designers by developing custom fabrics, washes and weaves in high-quality Italian denim mills. He works closely with the denim manufacturers, developing ARISTOCRAT's signature denims in order to ensure an impeccable shape that never loses its perfect shape.

ARISTOCRAT is truly a denim collection for the new millennium. Their crisp color palette of brilliant whites, grays and sleek raw indigoes lend a sophisticated air to a once casual phenomenon--the blue jean. Tailored for a flawless fit and inspired by decades-past fashion plates like Bianca Jagger, the blue jean is elevated to attire-status as centerpiece of the modern woman's wardrobe. Fashion-forward styles like ultra-high-waist sailor pants and super skinny skinnies (10" opening) keep fresh sartorial students coming back for more. Shop the latest from ARISTOCRAT's Fall 2007 Collection at CoutureCandy.

Maya Swimwear

"MAYA is the brainchild of third generation Argentine designer Carolina Dinardi. Her life-long fascination with design began at the age of five when her grandfather, a humble but highly-skilled Italian shoe designer, demonstrated that he could transform the silhouette of any object Carolina chose into a sketch of a beautiful shoe."

Carolina's design pedigree continued, learning from her mother a well established Argentine fashion designer. Summers spent daydreaming in her mother's design studio emboldened Carolina's aesthetic and gave her the hands-on skill set to realize her dreams.

At eighteen the young designer was inspired to design her own bikini after much frustration shopping for swimwear. She decided to make her own and perhaps sowed the seed for a future MAYA Swimwear eight years later. In the interim, she studied under accomplished Argentine fashion designers, perfecting her intuitive craft. In 1999 she fulfilled her dream of launching a high-quality swimwear brand.

The MAYA collection is reminiscent of the vibrant South American lifestyle with a vibrant color palette and flirtatious details. Styles and cuts keep women's curves in mind.

"Meaning illusion in Sanskrit, MAYA swimsuits are designed to flatter a woman's body. They are a departure from both the large American and tiny Brazilian cuts - combining practicality with South American sensuality."

Using only the highest quality, luxury materials, MAYA has earned a top-spot in the swimwear industry. Each nuance is considered--even MAYA packaging in a petite linen pouch, transforms into a low-slung pareo perfect for pool and beachside. Carefully considered details like ruffle trims, string belting and flattering rear seams all reflect the impeccable attention to detail of Carolina's design mantra. Celebrity clients include Hollywood IT girls Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, and Nicole Richie.

Shop the latest from MAYA Swimwear at CoutureCandy.

Cloak & Dagger NYC

Combine the proper panache of a 1920's society woman with the dynamic ambition and modern silhouettes of the 21st century woman and somewhere in the midst you'll discover Cloak & Dagger NYC; immaculately tailored. A clean aesthetic juxtaposed with nostalgic sartorial details and the finest fabrics are just what the latest millennium woman ordered.

Just begun in 2006, designer, Brookelynn Starnes, is carving a sophisticated niche for an ultra-refined line. Inspired by Haute Couture houses like Givenchy, YSL, Balenciaga and style icons like Audrey Hepburn, Cloak and Dagger creates sexy clothing that radiates elegance and quality. She uses an array of silks with super fine details and sensuously tailored fabrics with flirtatious linings, bindings and trim. "I am sick of going into a store and seeing a $500 blazer with no lining" Brookelynn says. Cloak & Dagger keeps the modern woman in mind: feminine yet ambitious and successful.

Starnes began her fashion career as a stylist for celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Julia Stiles, Paris Hilton, Ginnifer Goodwin, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Theodora Richards, and designers such as Thakoon and Zac Posen to name a few. She also studied in Nice, France and Tuscany's Centro Fiorenza in Florence. Her cultural knowledge of European style has proven a sound foundation for the traditional elegance that is Cloak & Dagger NYC.

Woo

Northern California native, Staci Woo moved south after studying art at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While in school, Staci worked at a local swimwear company and made her splash into the fashion industry. However, her real break came in 1995, as assistant designer to Adriano Goldschmied for A. Gold E.

"It was a humbling experience," she says of her days in the trenches. "I was young. Adriano taught me not just about design, but how to see things. He'd rush into the office holding up a pair of dirty blue jeans or an old tee shirt and exclaim, 'Do you see it! Isn't it fantastic!?'"

While toiling for Adriano, Staci began crafting on her own. She whipped up sling bags for personal use that soon became coveted possessions of friends and family. One became two, two three, and thus, in 1997 Woo was born. By 2002, Woo had collected a smart following based on simple yet innovative uses of recycled cashmere and vintage aloha prints. From what began as a bag and intimates collection has now expanded into a unique and fresh line designed for those seeking casual luxe. Each piece is an essential; created with the softest supima cottons and tencels mixed with lace trimming and inspiring prints.

Woo compliments every contour of a woman's body in a sophisticated and feminine approach. Her delicious materials are perfect for living and enjoying life to its fullest! Check out the latest from Woo like her flirty Kai Dress or the versatile, Gina Dress in Fiji to name a few.

Woo has gained a huge celebrity following including, Jessica Biel, Lucy Liu, Rebecca Romijn, Charlize Theron, Kate Hudson, Kelly Hu, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson, Nicole Ritchie, and Mischa Barton. Woo has graced the pages of fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan, Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Glamour, In Style, Los Angeles, Lucky, Organic Style, Shape, and WWD and can be spotted on today most popular TV shows like Desperate Housewives and the OC.

Jessica Elliot

Jessica Elliot has struck gold with her fabulous eponymous line of must-have jewelry. Born and raised amongst Hollywood's film industry, this actress-turned jewelry designer discovered an inherent skill for creating beautiful trinkets that capture the nonchalant glamour of Tinseltown. Unique design ideas like casting antique keys to create fresh, edgy baubles have firmly planted Jessica on the Hollywood star map. Jessica's creations have added sparkle to the gamut of Hollywood's elite including Lindsay Lohan, Tyra Banks, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Ashlee Simpson and Paris Hilton.

Her design mantra keeps her fashionista following in mind:

"I love to design pieces that are the focus of an outfit as opposed to an afterthought. I also design with the idea that jewelry is an investment, so I don't make things that will go out of style in 6 months. I try and create with a timeless appeal, so you feel good about putting it in your wardrobe every season with different clothes coming in and out of your closet. And you can dress the jewelry up or down."

Check out the latest from Jessica Elliot at CoutureCandy, we adore new styles like the press-gaining Art Deco Wing Necklace, a delicate gold wing studded with gems. It's this marriage of sophistication and utility that keeps It Girls coming back for more.

Parameter

Launched in the late nineties, Parameter's impeccable interpretation of the modern woman's adventurous aesthetic has earned the label a sought-after niche in designer women's apparel. Creative Director Maytal Sharifi has a penchant for breaking industry standards with innovative silhouettes, composition, fabrics and details that keep young fashion addicts coming back for more.

Parameter's playful 2007 collection is an expedition into the world of a European aristocrat heiress. A sublime elegance reigns over flirty florals, daring voluminous shapes, tailored details and a nostalgic whimsy that truly encompasses the inherent grace befitting a princess. The timeless air of the collection is only rivaled by a specifically modern intelligence arrived by careful consideration of the customer.

Parameter has been featured in fashion periodicals like InStyle, Lucky, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. Celebrities including Jessica Simpson, Susan Sarandon and Mandy Moore have all been spotted in Parameter designs. Check out the latest from Parameter at CoutureCandy.

Shop the latest from Parameter

Letarte Swimwear

Sisters Lisa Letarte Cabrinha and Michele Letarte Ross head the fabulous and flirty swimwear line, Letarte. Designed in Lisa's Maui Island studio, their creations reflect the breathtaking allure of the Hawaiian Islands. With paradise as their backdrop, these swimsuits capture a relaxed lifestyle with an extra dose of flirtatious energy and carefree glamour.

Their recipe for delicious swimwear combines luxurious materials and beautiful details including shells, bamboo accents, beads, sequins and intricate embroidery. Whimsical prints and bright colors complete this mischievous palette. Venturing outside the traditional swimwear, the line is complimented by equally gorgeous cover-ups, dresses and skirts.

Letarte has been featured among the pages of Elle, Vogue, Glamour, Lucky, and Cosmopolitan magazines. In 2005, the line gained further attention when they were chosen to grace the much-coveted cover of the Sports Illustrated Magazine's Swimsuit Edition, a holy grail among the swimwear industry. Letarte is the first United States Company to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in more than a decade.

Shop the latest from Letarte Swimwear

Antoinette Lee

Learning to sew at the age of fifteen, Antoinette Lee has always had a keen eye for sartorial endeavors. Whipping up her own designs, she soon learned that accessories were a profound passion and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Apparel Design in 2001. Relocating from Maryland to New York City, Antoinette worked in the fashion design industry for five years before launching her eponymous handbag line, Antoinette Lee.

Anotinette Lee is bold and alluring, without lacking in elegant restrain or impeccable, high-quality materials. "Instead of choosing a handbag to match an outfit, women should choose an outfit to match their handbag. Handbags are self defining, and should be the main focus of an outfit." Each piece makes a definitive statement whilst slipping seamlessly into every woman's wardrobe. The range of rich suedes, metallics and deep hues make up a classic color palette that is always in style.

Her tart clutches elevate jeans and a tee to eveningwear in an instant. Antoinette's signature Lua Chain Clutch with wristlet accessory is garnering press at every turn for its decadent form and utility. Both Nicole Richie and Keri Russell have been spotted with the head-turning designs.

Shop the latest from Antoinette Lee

Possť New York

Andrea Posse, founder of Possť, has always had a deep infatuation with accessories. Her passion for the fashion industry began as a young child when she spent her summers in Bogota, Colombia, where her aunt, designer Pilar Soentendal, ran a well-known specialty boutique called Sutendals. Her aunt was known for designing and dressing the city's social elite.

Andrea adopted her aunt's passion for designing and manufacturing, and began her own career as a handbag designer by creating one-of-a-kind pieces in 2003 under the name Andrea P. She later created her signature collection under Posse, which debuted in late August 2006.

Drawing inspiration from the various places she has lived - including Italy, France, Miami, and currently New York City - and using exotic fabrics and leather (python, lambskin, pony and croc, among others), Possť handbags are both deliciously dangerous and cleverly coquettish at once.

Possť handbags effortlessly distinguish any outfit and are not only beautiful but multi-functional as well.
Shop the latest delectable creations from Possť at CoutureCandy.

Yanuk Jeans

The amazing fit and unique detail of Yanuk denim originates from designer, Yael Torbati and business partner, Anouk Guez. Since its launch in 2003, Yanuk has filled a vital niche in the denim industry while simultaneously becoming a fashion favorite among celebrities.

Focusing on luxury, Yanuk never hesitates to use the best materials, washes and distressing techniques. In 2005, the label took a distinctly new style direction with the addition of designer Benjamin Taverniti. Skinny styles with a sleeker, cleaner silhouette emerged this year to great applause. New washes with a touch of shimmer and military inspired detail made a fresh statement while preserving the essence of Yanuk. At the recent L.A. Fashion week, Yanuk turned heads with a modern apocalyptic look for Spring with leather pocket cut-outs and ornate patches.

Always pushing the envelope, Yanuk has a wealth of celebrity admirers including, Jessica Simpson, Cameron Diaz, Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, Beyonce Knowles, Charlize Theron, Winona Ryder, and Jennifer Aniston. The line continues to please style-mavens with a fresh, fashion-forward ease that can only be Yanuk.

Johnson

Kristen Johnson is a success story to envy, after working in the Hollywood fashion industry for years, she set out to create a line of her own named Just Johnson. Launched in 2004, Just Johnson focuses on impeccably flattering shorts and jumpsuits and has skyrocketed in popularity paralleling the careers of her "It Girl" clientele.

Kristen's sartorial success is founded on a perfect fit and the use of luxurious and unique materials, like fine French and Italian wools. The high quality European fabrics compliment the lush imported Asian silks that line every pair for an absolutely delicious feel.

The garments are finished with touches of heirloom sophistication lent by a one-of-a-kind collection of vintage buttons. Nautical nuances like rolled cuffs and streamlined pockets complete the fresh look of these gorgeous shorts.

Her clientele includes a who's who of Hollywood starlets including, the Simpson and Hilton sisters, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Mischa Barton, Hillary Duff, Nicole Richie, Rachel Bilson and more. An immaculate combination of chic tailoring and slimming cuts, make Just Johnson shorts a wardrobe must-have. Look for chic jackets, pants, vests and leggings for Fall 2007 in bold plaids and stripes.