Top 3: Katie Gallagher

This NYFW, I attended Katie Gallagher’s (above, center) Fall/Winter 2010 presentation entitled “The Heart of the Woods and What I Found There” at the Soho Grand hotel. The collection was one part gothic—reminiscent of the NY-based designer’s Spring 2010 debut line—and one part whimsical, introducing a softer color palette with delicate textures. “Back in September right after my launch collection showed, I began a landscape painting on a piece of wood I found outside. The painting was to help me develop the color palette that I was imagining for FW10,” says Katie. “It’s a drippy, wintry image filled with soft greys, whites, creams and hints of pink and green. Alongside this palette, I couldn’t leave half of the collection in anything other than black.” Her talent brought to life a world of ethereal figures with messy hair and pale skin, like those that would appear in the atmosphere of the landscape. Demonstrating the relationship of geometry and volume in her construction, Katie cloaked these figures in garments that explored new dimensions in layering. Standout pieces were the vertical leggings in Lycra, leather and silk, and the warp coat in cashmere and treated leather.

As an RISD alum who has worked for Anna Sui and threeASFOUR respectively, Katie has been able to manage the entire production of her label with limited help. But as she continues to gain recognition (which will no doubt occur, considering the praise she has already received for her latest work), how will she cope with expansion? “It’s all very hard and I’m just trying to figure it all out the best I can. I’m very young, but I feel lucky to be in this spot at my age,” she says. “I do, do almost everything myself, with the help of a few friends. Although I make all of the samples (I’ve sewn over 200 pieces in the studio by myself in the last six months), the production for orders happens outside of my studio. We’re fortunate to work with some great manufacturers in New York.” For a designer in her early 20’s, there’s a calmness about Katie well beyond her years, but she also keeps it moving. “I’m already sketching out SS11! Very excited about my plans for it—it will be a much harder collection.” I can’t wait to see the world she takes us to next.

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1.The Curiosity ShoppePizza Zipper Pouch – “I had my wallet stolen, so this pizza slice does just the temporary trick.”

2.Katie Gallagher – Pastiche Zipper Pant – “My pastiche zipper pant is perfect either as a layering piece or just as a pant. They change the look of any outfit, but work easily anywhere! We’re still taking SS10 personal orders at sales@katiegallagher.com.”

3. Cire TrudonSpiritus Sancti Candle – “Smells are important! Aedes de Venustas scented my show this season, and this is my favorite candle they sell.”

[Presentation photo via Refinery29]

Top 3: Krystal Simpson

Fashion bloggers have officially arrived. Those with a distinct web following are being invited to fashion weeks all around the world, publishing books, designing their own collections, and even receiving gifts and words of encouragement from the very designers they were once mere admirers of. As the fashion world gradually begins to embrace this hybrid of stylish, tech-savvy fan-turned-industry influencer, will this now generate an influx of blogger wannabes with half-assed websites, hoping to receive the same perks as the originators of this phenomenon? “I love it. Anyone can do it, and that’s the way it should be. I really hate the exclusivity part of the fashion industry,” says Krystal Simpson of What Is Reality Anyway?, a social commentary blog on Krystal’s adventures in fashion, music, and art. “I don’t like anything that makes people feel excluded, so blogging has been amazing for that. It’s given the power to real people and that’s so exciting, because I love to see what real people can come up with without PR people, managers, and all that lame crap you don’t need to be creative. I’m all about D.I.Y., and I’m all for the success of bloggers out there.”

(‘DiggThis’)As an award-winning poet and MTV reality show alum, Krystal’s not exactly new to fame, but it wasn’t a brilliant poem or TV show that created her growing fan base—it’s her daily insights, looks-of-the-day, and collaborations with her equally-talented slew of friends (The Mirror, a fashion digital short, is a must-see) posted on her blog. Krystal’s hot, smart, creative, and her style is a blend of high-fashion, vintage, and comfort—in other words, there wasn’t a doubt that her appeal would transcend the internet. “I’m doing a shoot at the end of the month in LA with my beyond gorgeous friend Becka Diamond,” says Krystal. “Then I’ll be back in New York this February for some work, and Fashion Week. I love being in New York during Fashion Week because there’s this amazing energy that flows through the city. Even if you don’t go to shows or participate in any of that, it’s so much fun to just be there.” For those that will neither participate in NYFW or be in New York for that matter, it might be a good time to start a blog.

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1. Alexander Wang For Linda FarrowCat Eye Sunglasses – “These sunglasses have a different shape than what I’m used to seeing; I really think you could wear these with a red lip and pretty much nothing else and look stunning.”

2. American GoldBuffalo Fringe Jacket – “My good friend Suzanne Ford Carafano designs this amazing line—it’s all American made and vintage inspired. It’s what you always wish to find when you’re shopping, which most stores just don’t have.”

3. Rick OwensLeather Wedge Ankle Boots – “What other shoe would you need? These go with everything, and with a not-too-tall wedge, they won’t kill your feet.”

Top 3: sass & bide

There’s something about Australia that births cutting-edge fashion designers unlike anywhere else. “It’s the country’s energy, attitude and a free-spirit,” say designers Sarah-Jane Clark and Heidi Middleton. Take their label, sass & bide: in 1999, Clark (Sass) and Middleton (Bide) revolutionized the designer denim market by creating a jean with the perfect finish and fit that quickly became a second-skin for their underground following. In 2001, they launched their first seasonal collection at Australian Fashion Week, eventually leading them to the New York and London catwalks two years later. “Beauty in contradiction inspires our design aesthetic,” they explain. It was at that point that their innovative sense of style, luxury eye, and sharp tailoring reached global success, following prompt backing from style aficionados Kate Moss and Sienna Miller.

Fast-forward to this past fall, sass & bide presented their spring/summer 2010 collection at London Fashion Week—their first collection to appear in London since 2004. Returning with a punch, the knock-out collection was packed with bold prints, fresh silhouettes, meticulous metal adornments (those leggings!), and flawless flesh-baring party dresses likely to become model favorites (watch out, Balmain). But don’t call it a comeback just yet—this is just a taste of what’s to come. “We’ve been working on ‘sass & bide accoutrement’ – an eclectic collection of jewelry, belts, bags, and things,” the ladies reveal. I can already see the waiting lists beginning to form.

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1. Fleet Ilya – Restrictive Corset – “We love the concept—strong, sexy and modern.”

2. sass & bide – Higher Ground dress – “We love the embellishment contours.”

3. Ray-Ban – Mirrored Aviator – “A futuristic take on a classic style. This is a personal favorite.”

Top 3: Hellz Bellz

Why is it that women’s streetwear always ends up looking like the neglected stepchild of fashion, as if ridiculous bows, blinding neon colors and overly-embellished hoodies with cutesy phrases are enough to keep us quiet? Men’s streetwear styles are far more rough, rugged and creative that ladies often opt for their boyfriend’s gear in smaller sizes. Is streetwear really a boy’s club and we just live in it? According to Lanie Alabanza-Barcena, hellz no. “That’s actually one of the many reasons why I started Hellz Bellz to begin with. There weren’t many options out there for the ladies, other than overly-feminine items that were initially designed by men thinking they knew what a woman wanted to wear,” explains Lanie, the founder and creative director of the brand. “To fill the void in a market that was in desperate need to cater to the many women who weren’t getting the love they needed was fully my intention.”

Hellz Bellz is raw and balls to the wall, stylizing traditional streetwear staples like hoodies, denim, and t-shirts into more fashion-forward, versatile pieces, throwing in new silhouettes and diverse color schemes along the way. And with street-savvy females across the globe taking part in the Hellz movement at an alarming rate, big boys in the industry have taken note. Most recently, sports footwear company, Vans. “This collaboration is more to me than just Hellz working along with Vans on a project—it’s a dream come true. Wow, I sound corny, don’t I?” says Lanie. “But honestly, I grew up wearing Vans so I jumped at the chance of being able to work with them. And the way that it all happened was so organic; there wasn’t any me chasing them down or vice versa—we equally respected each other’s work and wanted to make something new, refreshing and great.” See below for an exclusive sneak peak of the Hellz x Vans collection.

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And as this year marks the brand’s 5th year anniversary, stay glued to the Hellz Bellz blog for details on the upcoming Mosley Tribes, G-Shock, and Hello Kitty collaborations, and the progress of Lanie’s ambitions to design children’s clothing, dog apparel, and a men’s label. Watch out, boys.

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1.Natalia Brilli – Nolex – “It’s the perfect combination of my two favorite things: Leather and Rolex watches.”

2.Chloë Sevigny For Opening Ceremony – Hi-Lace Boot – “It’s a beautiful take on a simple black wedge boot; it’s sleek, comfortable, and you can wear it with everything.”

3.Supreme – Fuck Em! Rug – “Is an explanation really needed? LOL!”

Top 3: Katie Kay of SKINGRAFT

LA-based design house SKINGRAFT reigned supreme during this past Los Angeles Fashion Week with their ready-to-wear spring 2010 collection. Inspired by Amelia Earhart and Joan of Arc, the line explored the sexiness of strength, commanding attention with skin-tight leathers and the designers Katie Kay and Jonny Cota’s signature craftsmanship. Although they’ve been around since 2005, SKINGRAFT’s success reached new heights with the support of well-known fans like Adam Lambert, Fergie, Kat Von D, and Margaret Cho wearing custom-made pieces in their performances and magazine features. And it’s no surprise that the current “biker chic” trend, a watered down version of what SKINGRAFT has been doing for years, has caused new hide-lovers to swarm to their downtown LA boutique and online store for their coveted leather jackets and harnesses.

Just like said spring 2010 muses, co-designer Katie Kay believes in the strength of truth, as revealed in her personal style. “My aesthetic is rooted in functionality; anything considered classic and powerful for women,” she says. “There’s a nod to androgyny, sustainability/reuse and how it all pertains to my life; I get out of bed everyday for bicycle-riding (the idea of taking one’s time and moving slowly is something I never do), music/sound and anything matte black. But above all that is instinct. Instinct is the key to real style — anything else feels forced and unnatural to me. I spent so many years on tour that practicality is always in the back of my mind.” Starting out as a tour manager for Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls, as well as a performer for The Dresden Dolls and Panic! At the Disco, Katie lives the explorer’s life that SKINGRAFT is inspired by. In fact, she went off on her next journey shortly after this interview. “I’m just about to leave to finish up the work on SKINGRAFT Fall 2010. We produce the line in a tropical location, which makes flying around the world several times a year worth it. We’re also scheming about our upcoming diffusion line and finally being available in Japan and the possibility of opening more retail locations.”

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1. Opening Ceremony – Wedge Ankle Boot – “Finding the shoe that makes you tall (a must!), looks tough and sexy AND you can still jump fences in is rough. This one does it.”

2. Steam Trunk Mojo – Moto Riding Gloves – “I’m all about simple items that take an outfit to the next level — and I just feel cool wearing these.”

3. All Saints – Alpha Coat – “Really anything from All Saints does it for me – well-made and decently priced. I far prefer thrifting and creation to anything brand new, but I can’t resist the amazing washes and treatments here.”

[Photo of Katie Kay by Rony Alwin]

Top 3: Who What Wear

Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr know what women want. They founded WhoWhatWear.com, the highly-publicized one-stop-shop for trend setters and followers alike. The site offers a variety of beauty and fashion assistance, from trend reports, to make-up tips, to shopping lists, to styling tutorials. Another fan favorite is their clever “What Was She Wearing?” service, where subscribers stumped on a celebrity or model’s outfit can submit the image to the WWW team and they attempt to ID it for them. They also distribute a daily newsletter, offering a condensed version of the latest features on their site.

Being the ambitious pair that Power and Kerr are, they found yet another way to connect with their fans by launching Who What Wear: Celebrity and Runway Style for Real Life—their recently published reference guide (and perfect holiday gift). “We wanted to give women the tools to be able to look at any runway collection or stylish celebrity and know how they could interpret that look in their own way, into an outfit that is appropriate for their body type, budget, and personal taste,” says Kerr. The ladies have more in store for 2010, too. “We’re currently developing a TV show and are about to start working on a new book! Other than that, we have a number of amazing new web series in the works right now and are planning some exciting new upgrades to the site, so watch our space.” In true Who What Wear fashion, the ladies share their Top 3 high/low pieces of the moment.

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1. Katy Rodriguez – Butterfly Dress in Leopard Print Chiffon – “There is so much to adore about this beautiful diaphanous dress, it’s hard to know where to start! In addition to the exquisite print (we both adore cats), the translucent chiffon offers a neat nod to spring’s lingerie trend.”

2. J.Crew – Boyfriend Fatique Jacket – “The jacket has many names (field, utility, cargo, or army, to name a few), but though the handle varies, the fact remains that it’s a wardrobe essential. There were loads of these jackets on the S/S 2010 runways—everyone from Balmain to Burberry to Rag & Bone produced a style or two. J.Crew’s version is quite good and already in stores!”

3. Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci – Leather and Metal Studded Hairband – “Our favorite sharp-chic accessory is definitely this Givenchy headband from the Resort 2010 collection. It’s an investment item, but much like the Prada turban from a few seasons ago, it’s a knockout piece that can elevate any outfit from the mundane to the sublime.”

Top 3: LITTER

Your trash is Rachael Mann and Mackenzie Burdick’s treasure. The pair have struck gold with LITTER, their San Francisco-based, metal scraps-driven line of men and women’s head, ear, ring, body and shoe jewelry. It all started when Mackenzie—a fashion design graduate—created a hippie headpiece à la Nicole Richie, but with found nuts and bolts. She then looped her interior design expert sister, Rachel into the mix, creating a makeshift workshop in her living room to design more pieces. This led to further experimentation with junkyard metal and Goodwill chains to create body and shoe jewelry, which immediately sold out in local jewelry shows and on the sister’s blog. After only one year on the scene (they started the line in December 2008), the duo have already got the fashion industry buzzing, receiving a nod from Miss “I Die!” herself, and a phone call or two from some notable publications. “It’s cool when you make a piece and think it’s good,” says Rachel, “but when Vogue says you’re awesome, then you know you’re doing something right!” Harper’s Bazaar also featured Lucy Liu decked out in LITTER in the August issue. From recycled trash to a fun, profitable jewelry line, there’s one moral to LITTER’s story: Love your junk.

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1. BodyWebs – Sweetheart Thong – “American Apparel has nothing on these! Just throw on a pair of heels and you’re set! So sexy. I think their homepage picture says it all. We love the sweetheart thong, but also pretty much everything in their catalogue.”

2. Bughouse – Hypolux Chandelier – “This company is really amazing. I’m always finding really unique pieces on here. We love this light and think it would be amazing in a work space. I mean a syringe chandelier? How is that not amazing?”

3. RP/Encore – Pigeon Wing Headpiece – “Love, love, love this site. Kind of creepy at first, but really amazing designs! We’re in love with the rat and mouse cufflinks and the pigeon winged hair combs.”