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STYLE: DESIGN : Rose Hip

January 23, 1994|BARBARA THORNBURG

Clothing designer Rachel London admits that she's no gardener--"I have a black thumb," she says--but her Malibu Beach atelier overflows with roses anyway. Her secret? Chinese-made polyester flowers, as many as 10,000 of them, hung from the ceiling, swagged over doorways and windows, attached to furniture and strewn across an espalier out on the terrace. Says London of the eye-popping floral flourishes: "They never die, they hold their shape and they're always in bloom."

The 29-year-old designer, whose fans include Madonna (she wore London's pink "floral fur" bolero to the Tony Awards six years ago), Demi Moore, Roseanne Arnold and Naomi Campbell, has always "adored wild clothes and colors." So it's not surprising that she was originally inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Lacroix, or that her creations for adults and children--hot pants, jean jackets, coats, stoles, boleros, shirts, mini-dresses, platform shoes--bear flowery patterns to rival the interior of her studio-apartment.

Over the past two years, London has stapled roses to the walls, glued them to sofas and riveted them to bathroom shower curtains. She's also sewn petals onto poplin sheeting to form what she calls her "rainbow rug." Even bath towels and washcloths haven't escaped a pink peppering of blossoms. What's left? Lately, she's begun adding birds and butterflies: "They're a natural with flowers."

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