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Top 10 New Fashion Designers To Watch This Fall

The madness of show season is upon us, beginning with New York Fashion Week in the beginning of September. And each season, a new slew of designers emerge to challenge the old guard for a firm spot in the fashion pantheon. Recent members inducted into this unofficial hall of fashion fame have included Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang and Jason Wu. Who’s next? We’ve had our eye on a group that includes both big names vying for a spot and a few smaller brands we think are on the brink of stardom. Clear your closet for some new blood and new designs from Fashion Trends Daily’s Top 10 list of new fashion designers you should know.

Reed Krakoff

1. Reed Krakoff

Celebrity fans: Michelle Obama, Julianne Moore, Mandy Moore, Rachel Zoe, Ann Romney

For fans of: Coach, Prada, Narciso Rodriguez

When Coach creative director Reed Krakoff debuted his eponymous line, there were skeptics — not to mention a scathing review here or there. But as his collection has grown and he’s found his footing, his brand of hyper-luxe accessories has found its place among the upper echelons of the handbag world among Herm©s, Louis Vuitton and Fendi. A far cry from his for-everyone democratization of fashion at Coach, Krakoff’s own line features more cerebral pieces such as leather aprons, pieced skirts and sky-high heels with fur, exotic leathers and more. From C-emblazoned canvas to croc and fur? You’ve come a long way, baby.

For more information, visit

Kelly Wearstler

2. Kelly Wearstler

Celebrity fans: Brandon Holley, Julianne Hough, Hilary Duff, Gwen Stefani

For fans of: Tory Burch, Rag & Bone, Rachel Roy

You know her for her interior design savvy (see: the Hotel Bel Air, the Viceroy, Bergdorf Goodman’s restaurant) and her fashion choices on Bravo’s short-lived Top Design, but the interior guru-cum-designer’s making a name for herself with a label of ready-to-wear. Drawing from her love of mixed media — prints abound! — combined with a touch of rock and roll, the line has already gained a celeb following and become a street-style blogger favorite. If the clothes are too out of your comfort zone, grab a few studded bangles, a heavy-metal clutch or printed scarves to throw into your wardrobe rotation.

For more information, visit

Cushnie et Ochs

3. Cushnie et Ochs

Celebrity fans: Liya Kebede, Chanel Iman, Eva Longoria, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Obama

For fans of: Herve Leger, Versace, Calvin Klein Collection, Alexander Wang

Fresh out of Parsons, the designing duo behind Cushnie et Ochs were in the running for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund for their sleek, sexy dresses. Cut with nearly surgical precision to flatter women’s bodies, it’s no surprise that the label quickly became a go-to for celebrities that like to show a little skin on the red carpet. The line is known for cutouts, ultra-sleek silhouettes and body-skimming fabrics, but what really made us take notice is the hidden construction and attention to detail within each garment. While some look like a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen, the designers assure us that each and every garment is engineered to both support and flatter the women that wear them.

For more information, visit

Pedro Lauren§o

4. Pedro Lauren§o

For fans of: Balmain, Givenchy by Ricardo Tischi, Versus, Hussein Chalayan

Brazilian native Pedro Lauren§o showed his first collection in Paris at age 19. If that wasn’t enough to brand the designer as an overachiever, he also embraces just about every trend with each passing season. Trompe l’oeil? Check. That leather is actually plastic. Visually slimming silhouettes? Done. Intricate, couture-like construction? He’s done that. Sourcing from the same mills at Herm©s? He’s done that, too. His statement coats make editors salivate and when they see the construction and embellishment up close, they all agree that though he might be young, he’s got the goods to back up the hype.

For more information, visit

Antonio Azzuolo

5. A.A. Antonio Azzuolo

Celebrity fans: Joe Jonas, Daniel Radcliffe, Shaun White, Erin Wasson

For fans of: Thom Browne, Simon Spurr, Dior Homme

One of the most memorable moments of The Fashion Fund documentary mini-series was when Jenna Lyons was literally blown away by the sheer size of Antonio Azzuolo’s collection. As a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist (along with the ladies of Cushnie et Ochs), he took heed and shrunk his collection down to a more manageable size — from over 200 to something around 160. Truthfully, we’d like to have seen the extra pieces because we can’t get enough of Azzuolo’s riffs on traditional tailoring.

Growing up in Canada and serving on the design teams at Herm©s and Kenzo, he started his own brand after moving to New York to work with Ralph Lauren at his Black and Purple labels. Fashion-forward celebs already know he’s the go-to guy for suits that stand out. He even made a special piece for tomboy model Erin Wasson for the CFDA Awards Ceremony, so a full women’s collection might not be too far off.

For more information, visit

Ostwald Helgason

6. Ostwald Helgason

Celebrity fans: Rihanna, Chlo« Sevigny

For fans of: Balenciaga, Christopher Kane, Marni

If street style is the real runway at Fashion Week, then Ostwald Helgason is the designer of choice for the in-crowd. The designers hail from Germany and Iceland, which might account for the label’s love of the eclectic. The duo is known for using high-tech treatments on natural materials. The designs aren’t for the faint of heart, either. The label is known for prints, print mixing, daring silhouettes and volume. While it would be a great label to go to for statement pieces, it might be best to leave the all-out head-to-toe pattern onslaught to the pros.

For more information, visit

Terra New York

7. Terra New York

For fans of: Burberry, Hunter boots, Pendleton, J. Crew

Fashion isn’t always transparent. The label Terra New York, however, is. Necessity (always the mother of invention) brought the label to life after designers Yurika Nakazono and Marie Saeki needed chic outerwear to throw on over their designer duds during a downpour. The line includes raincoats, hats, shoes and bags, and features TPU/ Urethane on each piece for waterproof material that’s breathable, not sticky. With a range of colors and silhouettes, we’re loving the lingerie-meets-outerwear quality of the sheer plastic. It almost makes us wish it rained more in Southern California.

For more information, visit


8. Elkin

Celebrity fans: Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Nicole Richie, Alex Frnka, Lily Collins

For fans of: Anna Sui, Free People, Erin Fetherston, Behnaz Sarafpour, Temperley London

L.A.-based brand Elkin is known for sweetly sexy frocks, which is no surprise when you learn that they draw from Lolita and other literary touchstones with each season’s collection. Sci-fi Jules Verne one season, children’s books the next, the duo bring together these complex inspirations into a wearable collection of feminine dresses that have a creative edge. What appears to be a little black dress has a bodice reminiscent of Blade Runner, Peter Pan collars are made of intricate lace that looks like it was pulled from Miss Havisham’s trousseau. Elkin is one to watch for fans of the sweetly subversive.

For more information, visit

Thomas Tait

9. Thomas Tait

For fans of: Balenciaga, Calvin Klein Collection, Rick Owens, C©line, Dries van Noten

Canadian-born Tait won the Dorchester Fashion Prize in 2010, which was overseen by judges Manolo Blahnik, Stephen Jones, and Daphne Guinness. He even drew comparisons to Francisco Costa (and earned a collab of leather pieces with retail mega-giant ASOS) for his clean lines and severe minimalism. Subsequent collections, however, have added a softer edge and sportier motifs, which (of course) put him among the ranks of Phoebe Philo and Nicholas Ghesqui¨re. With such lofty company, Tait’s stuck to his guns and created collections that defy gravity with cocoon shapes and impossibly high wedges alongside the deep influences of the couture tradition.

For more information, visit


10. Carven

Celebrity fans: Blake Lively, Emma Watson, Katie Holmes, Emma Stone, Katy Perry

For fans of: Pucci, Missoni, Max & Co., Valentino Red, Proenza Schouler

New? Not quite. The House of Carven was established in the 1950s, but in 2010, the label got revamped from a highbrow, couture house  into a more contemporary label. (It was the oldest established couture house still operating until the label reorganized itself.) Since 2010, Carven has been showing youthful, colorful and energetic collections that draw from Madame Carven’s traditions. There is less of a focus on evening gowns and instead, the label has become known for festive cocktail attire, work-appropriate knits and a blend of Parisian street fashion with traditional women’s staples. The brand even added menswear for Spring 2012, expanding its audience even further.

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy,, CFDA, Kelly Wearstler, Ostwald Helgason, Terra New York, Elkin, Thomas Tait and Carven

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From Madras to Capri: A Brief History of Summer’s Classic Pants

Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly made crisp capris a go-to summer pant for everyone from chic socialites to moms on the go while Nantucket reds and Madras have reigned supreme in stylish summer enclaves across the Eastern seaboard for decades, only to make huge comebacks the past few summers in prep-inspired summer fashion collections. But where did these fancy pants get their names? We’ve tracked down the history of summer’s most classic pants and found that no matter what you call them, they’re the perfect pieces for hot days.

J. Crew caf© capri in dahlia

Audrey Hepburn in Love in the Afternoon








With a ladylike length and mass appeal, few know that the capri pant actually does draw its name from the island of Capri, known as a destination for Hollywood’s A-listers dating from film’s golden age to today. Actress/princess Grace Kelly — the original multicareer celeb — was one of the first stars to be photographed gallivanting on the island in cropped pants.

First designed in 1948 by Sonja de Lennart, the original capri pant was a sexy alternative to women’s trousers, which at the time were nearly identical to mens’ pants. De Lennart slimmed the silhouette and added a vent on the outside for comfort. She even made two specific lengths, one for summer and one for winter. As fate would have it, famed studio costumer Edith Head dressed Audrey Hepburn in “capri” pants for Roman Holiday and they made a repeat appearance in Sabrina. For that film Hubert de Givenchy himself commissioned de Lennart capris for Hepburn to wear throughout the production and she continued to wear them in subsequent films and off-camera.

Today, capri pants are popular with gamine gals who adore Audrey, and some European men. J. Crew’s caf© capri is a big seller throughout the year (First Lady Michelle Obama is a fan) and is available in an array of colors and patterns.

Land’s End Canvas Madras Pants

Nick Wooster in a patchwork madras sportcoat










Madras comes out when the temperature goes up. While there are no scientific sartorial studies to back this up, we have only to head to East Coast summer hot spots (and look at FTD’s own Senior Writer and street style savants such as Nick Wooster) to confirm this hypothesis. It can be traced back to colonial England (along with its cousin seersucker). Madras is the old English name for the city of Chennai, in India. During colonial rule, British soldiers noticed the locals wearing brightly patterned cloth.

Upon closer inspection they realized it had an extremely light weave, keeping the wearers cool.

It wasn’t until the fabric came to America though, that it gained popularity. Preppy Ivy Leaguers embraced the brightly colored fabrics. Madras pants became a country club staple and big name retailers such as Brooks Brothers, J. Press and Ralph Lauren took the fabric one step further by fashioning a patchwork version. New England preps especially loved a version made from non-colorfast fabric. It would fade and distort with each wash, lending the name bleeding madras.

Today, old menswear stalwarts still fill their racks with madras post-Memorial Day and designers such as Michael Bastian and Steven Alan show riffs on the traditional material in their spring collections on blazers, shorts and more. Even girls get in on the action — Ralph Lauren often sells madras bikinis, sundresses and shirts in his stores.

Nantucket reds

J. Crew Broken-in chino in Smoke Red








Nantucket reds have the honor of being the most self explanatory pants when it comes to their origin. Yes, they started in Nantucket with the yacht and schooner crowd and no, the Gorton’s fisherman would never wear anything this loud — his statement yellow coat says enough.

What’s not more well known is that the Nantucket red pant started at Murray’s Toggery Shop. While it’s no longer there, it was the first place to market the pants after adapting them from the New York Yacht Club uniform. Trademarked with the phrase “guaranteed to fade,” Nantucket reds started off saturated and bright and with repeat washings and a few dips in the ocean they’d lose their vibrancy and fade to a pinky salmon. Modern versions of the Nantucket red are more colorfast, so they’ll stay red and not turn pink (though these days, purveyors like J. Crew and Bonobos have artfully faded them for your convenience).

Brooks Brothers Go to Hell Pants

One last contender — the menswear item known as the Go to Hell pant. There’s no specific geographic location for these guys other than New England’s preppy underground scene. An oxymoron, you ask? Some credit author Tom Wolfe for coining the phrase, and it doesn’t get any more subversive than a prep who wears white year-round. He described pants fashioned from bright fabrics with everything from lobsters to whales embroidered on them — and the guys he saw wearing them would pair them with traditional staples like repp ties and navy blazers. The gall! The modern Go the Hell pant is still a rare occurrence (we haven’t seen a pair in the wild since the summer of ’10) but with Brooks Brothers pushing pink pants decorated with miniature sailboats, it won’t be long until there’s another sighting.

Photos courtesy Lands End, Brooks Brothers, tumblr, J. Crew and IMDB