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There's a place mat for everything

November 10, 2002|EMILY YOUNG

Whatever the occasion, designer Nay Khoubnazar never fails to bring a touch of class to the table--literally. Khoubnazar's linen and organdy napkins, place mats, cloths and runners come embellished with embroidery, lace, organza and other couture-like details. Not surprisingly, her creations turn up on some of the best-dressed tabletops in town.

"The things I make are like fashion for the table," she says. "I watch the styles in magazines. If there's anything I can transfer, I do." Like dainty floral appliques. Or hand-stitched rows of pastel ribbon. Or exotic fringes of faceted beads.

Khoubnazar launched her linens company, Nay et al Inc., in 1993 while working at Gearys of Beverly Hills. "I kept telling my bosses we didn't have anything to go with a Lynn Chase china pattern called Jaguar Jungle that had a black border with leopard print and orchids," she recalls. "They dared me to make something myself. So I did."

That night, Khoubnazar borrowed her sister's sewing machine and whipped up black sateen place mats with black cording. Her elegantly understated handiwork was an instant hit at Gearys, and the next thing Khoubnazar knew, Neiman Marcus was on the phone with a huge order.

The Iranian-born designer now heads a 12-person company based near USC, and has since introduced 20 more collections. Nay et al can be found at Gearys, For the Table on Robertson Boulevard and specialty stores across the country. For those tempted to trade up from paper, a set of eight napkins, napkin rings and place mats could put you back more than $1,000 and require hand-washing or dry cleaning.

Not that Khoubnazar's customers mind. "There will always be people who set a beautiful table for holidays and special occasions," she says. Which explains why she reserved space for linens in the Santa Monica boutique she opened last month for her Baby Nay children's clothing line (also available at select Bloomingdale's stores). "I'll never stop designing for the table because, nine years ago, it all started with a napkin and a napkin ring."

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