New York Fashion Week "NYFW" Designer Profiles Part I

I'm taking the redeye to New York Friday night to descend upon the glamour, glitz, and CRAZINESS of Fashion Week. I cannot wait to view the beautiful Spring 2012 collections in person and see (and hopefully meet) some of the creative geniuses behind each collection. I better start taking my vitamins because I will be a busy bee buzzing my way through 15 shows in just 5 days!

I think it's important to be familiar with the background and history surrounding each brand, especially before viewing the collections in person. So, I'm putting together fashion profiles on each of the15 shows I will be attending. It's honestly awe-inspiring to read and learn about the creative and business journeys each of these designers took to get to New York Fashion Week.

Farah Angsana: Couture and Bridal

To those who know the stylish, international designer’s work well, this rebirth is a return to the Farah they first met in 1999 when she made her debut in London-a return to haute couture and high-end eveningwear for women. To those who are aware of Farah through the daring and elegant menswear she had been creating in the years since she moved to Paris in 2000, it’s a next logical step. To Farah herself it represents the opportunity to go back to what originally inspired her to become a designer – the thrill of blending fantasy and reality together to make women beautiful and glamorous.

Eva Minge: Couture

Eva Minge was born in Szczecinek, Poland. She studied Art History and Cultural Studies. She is one of the most renowned Polish fashion designers who has a global success. She presented her clothes during Paris, New York, Berlin, Rome, and Moscow fashion weeks.

Many international celebrities and influential personalities have chosen Eva’s designs and appreciate her unique modern, elegant style. Kelly Rowland, Cheryl Cole, Adriana Karembeu, Ivana & Ivanka Trump, LaToya Jackson and the former Polish First Lady Jolanta Kwaniewska are only the few of the many names with whom Minge cooperated in the past. Since 2008, Eva Minge has been showing her couture collections along with prestigious fashion designers during Paris Couture Fashion Week and starting from 2010, she has been showing her ready-to-wear collections during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

Lela Rose: Ready to Wear & Bridal

Lela grew up in Dallas, Texas. She attended University of Colorado where she was a painting and sculpture major and graduated in 1991. She had a business in college making vests from vintage scarves and decided to go into fashion. She moved to New York City and headed to Parsons School of Design which she graduated from in 1993 with an associate's degree. She worked under Christian Francis Roth, a fashion designer, and Richard Tyler, a designer based in Los Angeles. She then launched her collection in 1996 out of her own apartment, which featured feminine clothing with lots of embellishments.

In 2001 she garnered attention when she designed the outfits worn by Jenna and Barbara Bush at their father's presidential inauguration. Until that point, she was mainly working with private clients. After that, she began to expand her business with retail businesses like Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

Some of her well-known clientele include Mischa Barton, Molly Sims, Jessica Simpson, Ashley Judd, Mariska Hargitay, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Selma Blair. In August 2007, Lela Rose introduced a line of inexpensive footwear and accessories (including infant footwear) for Payless Shoes. The line was unveiled in February 2007 during Fashion Week. She has also branched out into bridalwear.

Parkchoonmoo: Couture

Fashion designer Choonmoo Park was born in Kimje, a small town in the southern part of Korea, where her family owned a children’s apparel company. A happy fixture in her father’s factory and showroom, Park was fascinated by the transformative and reflective nature of clothing and hence, her love of fashion was born. After her family moved to Seoul, Park attended Hong-Ik University, where she majored in industrial design, followed by the Kookje Fashion School where she studied fashion design. Her industrial design roots are evident in her fashion designs and have defined her compelling aesthetic.

Park has been at the forefront of Korean avant garde design since 1988, when she launched her label DEMOO. Subsequently, she launched her eponymous line, PARKCHOONMOO. Responding to high demand, the designer opened her first retail store in 1988 in trendy Apgujungdong (Korea) and expanded quickly into other Asian markets. Since then, her designs have become iconic of a modern, architectural and yet fluid style. Underlying her edgy but wearable designs is an artistic sensibility and superb fit derived from couture roots translated into ready-to-wear. Park favors the striking impact of monotones such as black and white, punctuated by counterpoints of color, and layering to create new combinations that have become a signature of the PARKCHOONMOO aesthetic.

Jen Kao: Ready to Wear

The key to Jen Kao’s designs can be found in one phrase: “easy dramatics.” Though undeniably sexy, her clothes are always comfortable, accessible, and created with the needs of the woman who will wear them in mind. “My customer is a woman who is always moving and always making things move.” Kao says, “There are intelligent ways to convey sexuality. A woman can emphasize her assets, internal and external, without revealing the obvious.”

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Kansas, Kao moved to New York City in 1999 to study Studio Art at NYU. Building on her passion for fine art and with a desire to explore three-dimensional design, Kao recognized her growing interest in textile construction. She subsequently obtained a graduate degree in fashion design from Parsons.

Jen Kao debuted her eponymous Spring 2008 Collection with a show dedicated to her peers; strong, modern, and complex individuals with a cultivated sense of personal style. She has established an identity as a designer known for innovative tailoring, intricately seamed leather pieces, and experimental knits. Kao’s talent for three-dimensional sculptural art is reflected in her design aesthetic, highlighting the contrast between architectural construction and fluid draping.

Jen Kao’s empowering sophistication has won her notable fans and multiple collaborations with some of today’s most influential artistic talents. The Jen Kao collection is crafted in New York City and is carried at top specialty stores worldwide.

Custo Barcelona: Ready to Wear

The brand began when two young Spanish designers, Custo and David Dalmau set up shop in Barcelona, Spain in the 1980s. They began with men's wear, and expanded to women's clothing.
While on a motorcyle trip around the world, the two designers spent time in California, where they were especially taken by the California lifestyle and the colorful, psychedelic clothes worn by California surfers.

In 1996 they put their inspiration to work and opened Custo Barcelona. They began with the brightly colored style T-shirts using psychedelic California inspired designs. Custo Barcelona clothes soon caught the attention of Hollywood, where the pieces were used for television and movies. Their expanded collection was shown during New York's 1997 fashion week, and received positive reviews. Their colorful creations were a welcome sight after what had been a drab week on the catwalk.

The two designers soon regularly appeared in the American media, raising interest in their products and the world-wide market. The Custo Barcelona line is currently available at 3000 points of sale, with the international market making up 85% of their sales.

Please stay tuned for Part II of my New York Fashion Week Designer Profiles!