The fashion world has plenty of dynamic male duos: Dolce & Gabbana, Viktor & Rolf, Proenza Schouler. Pairs of females, though, have been in short supply. Until now. Here we present four fashion sets: a pair of onetime models, a pair of former editors, a pair of hard-working stylists and a pair of recent design school graduates. The members of each team design in tandem, building on each other's ideas and adding a quirky array of influences. They may work together, but they're all complete originals.
A real love of vintage clothing means more than an affinity for pretty prints and old-fashioned lines. It's a longing for other worlds and other lives, an understanding of the stories that a clingy 1950s dress or a felt hat from the 1920s can tell. When Milla Jovovich and Carmen Hawk--friends who first met as young models in Paris--began working on their 3-year-old line, Jovovich-Hawk, "We would go over to each other's houses and just dump these big trash bags on the floor full of vintage clothes," Hawk remembers. They spent hours sorting through the piles, wondering what they could add to the tales already told. A Victorian wedding gown, for example, might be cut up to become a puzzle-piece bustier dress. Along the way, Jovovich realized, "We like to dress up for each other. We like to inspire each other; it's what I love most about working together."
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 11, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Fashion: In the March 4 West magazine Spring Fashion issue, an article on four pairs of female designers identified Hermes as a high-end Italian fashion house. It is based in Paris.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 18, 2007 Home Edition West Magazine Part I Page 8 Lat Magazine Desk 0 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
The article on four pairs of female designers ("Buddy System," Spring Fashion, March 4) identified Hermes as a high-end Italian fashion house. It is based in Paris.
After gaining a reputation for girly-but-knowing floral-print dresses, their fall 2007 line travels a darker path. Designed at their tiny atelier in Hollywood, it draws inspiration from "everything from very classic Irving Penn to a Versailles whore in an alley in Paris." According to Jovovich, the collection, appropriately titled Le Petit Mort, is "very eclectic and passionate; it's a little brooding, a bit of another time." Both say it feels haunted, as if the clothes have a life of their own, echoing the haunted feeling that Hawk says drew her to Los Angeles from New York.
"You can also be incredibly lonely in L.A. if you don't have your own world happening," says Jovovich. "But we're definitely in our own element here. It doesn't wear us down and wear us out; it helps us keep our innocence, that magical life, that personal world. We both need that. It's so integral to who we are as artists and as women."
Miss Davenporte / Premiere Line
Describing how she first began working with partner Cristina Ehrlich, Estee Stanley says: "We met when we were both stylists. Our assistants were incompetent, and we decided to team up and get rid of them." The polished duo knew that they could do things better on their own, and that certainty marked the beginning of a burgeoning fashion empire.
When they couldn't find the classic skirts and dresses that they wanted for clients such as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the two decided to design the garments themselves and created Miss Davenporte. The vintage-inspired, year-old line was received with open arms at Ron Herman and has drawn the support of such stars as Jessica Biel and the Olsens, who were photographed wearing the loose, super-short gowns and black stockings.
And then Frederick's of Hollywood came knocking, asking Stanley and Ehrlich to come up with a line of shapewear. "They told us to think dream world, what we'd create if anything was possible," says Stanley. "We looked at clients like Eva Mendes and Jessica Biel; things are never cut for these kinds of figures." Though some might say that Mendes' and Biel's va-va-voom curves would look perfect in nearly anything, Stanley says, "It's horrible. Why should you not be able to wear a plunging neckline just because you have bigger breasts? And all these bras were as big as a car!" After nearly a year, the L.A. pair came up with the Premiere Line, a two-part kit in neat white cases that contains all the silicon gel tools you need to elevate and accentuate.
Promoting the line while still styling clients and designing Miss Davenporte is exhausting, but "we have a real rhythm together," says Ehrlich. "It keeps us creative and interested--we're both focused on the long term."
Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock design their 4-year-old collection, Vena Cava, in a converted can factory in Brooklyn. They may be deep in New York now, but the team hails from the same place: Los Angeles. Buhai and Mayock, both recent Parsons grads, grew up in Hancock Park and Pasadena, respectively. They met on a "blind friend date," shared some mashed potatoes and bonded over their mutual love of thrift-store shopping.
"There's no one else that I'd be able to do this with," says Mayock. "Part of that comes from having really similar backgrounds and references. Going to the same thrift stores, the same beautiful old movie theaters in downtown L.A. . . . shopping on Melrose and going to the Pasadena flea market."