Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

THE STYLE FILES: THE PLACES : Where the Designers Do Their Thing : SUE WONG: "I've been on my own for nine years. It feels really good to be able to hang in there."

March 15, 1994|GAILE ROBINSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Only a very small piece of the fashion pie is glamorous. Models, runway shows and stores are pretty, and you can be, too, once you buy that new outfit. The rest of it, the bulk of it, is much like dressing rooms--ugly, sparsely furnished and poorly lit. Still, many people are quite willing to drive to the unlandscaped areas of town to toil in an office permeated with the acrid smell of fabric dye. They want to hear the cacophony of sewing machines and slowly melt in the tropical heat of a hundred steamers. We took a peek into the working conditions at four Los Angeles studios--from Carole Little's huge complex to Gregory Poe's wee garret.

*

The Clothes: Each season brings a new design direction. Standouts for spring and summer include long tea dresses and mandarin-influenced jackets and vests.

*

The Labels: Sue Wong and Sue Wong Studio.

*

The Plant: Wong's business is located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, just north of the garment district and a little south of seedy. Her work space occupies two upper floors of a bright pink building--an early warning to all who enter that this is a design studio like no other.

The offices are in an open loft decorated like an art gallery. Wong has decorated the walls with the artwork of friends and painted her collection of '50s furniture in homage to famous artists. Among them are a kidney-shaped Kandinsky reception table, Matisse end tables and a Mondrian conference table. The company's production manager is also a floral designer who fills the place with huge arrangements. Together, these elements make Wong's studio look like an art gallery moments before an opening.

*

The Dress Code: Arty, part fashion groupie and part art crowd--black clothes with statement-making jewelry.

*

Amenities: Wong's staff is a virtual garment industry United Nations. She employs representatives from Switzerland, the Philippines, Mexico, Germany, China, El Salvador, Thailand and Japan. Her shipping room is uncommonly clean, spacious and orderly.

*

The Big Cheese: Sue Wong graduated from Los Angeles Trade Technical College 25 years ago (Carole Little was in the same graduating class) and has had her own fashion business for the last nine years. She seems to relish the role of sole-creative-force-in-residence.

*

Output: Sue Wong has two divisions, sportswear and dresses. Each is shipped five times a year, and may include as many as 10,000 pieces.

*

Entry-Level Position: "Once in a while I've taken on a student for draping and sketching," Wong says.

*

Number of Employees: 22

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|