It saddens me to report that one of the talented people I highlighted in 2007’s “Ones to Watch” list has already closed up shop — jewelry designer Lisa Levine. On the other hand, Lily Raskind of Sunshine & Shadow continues to flourish, as do lines like Devotte and Araks. So it’s not an unworthy enterprise to highlight some folks worth watching in 2009. It’ll be a truly dark day when we stop talking about the bright things on the horizon.
While there’ve been serious advancements in the field of earth-friendly fashion (Loomstate and Mociun, for starters), this might be the first label I’ve seen that really does it well. Founded by a fashion powerhouse team of designer Samantha Pleet and writer Eviana Hartman (formerly of Teen Vogue and Nylon), the pieces have sharp lines and sex appeal. Tailored bustiers and collar-waisted skirts? Yes, please. (Available at Jumelle in Brookyn; I Heart and No. 6 in Manhattan.)
Ultra-cool, rocker-looking Chrissie Miller spearheaded her label in 2003, inspired by the dirty-hot-with-bangs style of the Lower East Side. She then joined forces with designer Madeleine von Froomer (formerly of Proenza Schouler) and launched a collection of effortlessly sexy basics like zipper dresses, skin-baring tanks and asymmetrically buttoned hoodies. The duo’s lookbooks have also become stuff of legend: the Spring 2008 edition was a Kids-inspired montage of oversexed, too-cool-for-school teens making out in parks and flashing cars on the FDR. (Available at Opening Ceremony, Barneys and Castor & Pollux.)
While Love may have the typical designer background of stylist-meets-filmmaker-meets-painter (apparently she periodically assists artist Francisco Clemente), her designs are anything but typical. Love’s pieces are darkly whimsical, running the gamut from intimidating talon bangles to tiny bird skulls and teeth hanging from long gold chains. She also boasts some better-than-you-type buddies (like, oh, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld), and has an upcoming collaboration with celebrity favorite and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Marchesa in 2009. (Available at Oak and Opening Ceremony.)
Erin Wasson may no longer be Alexander Wang’s muse, but she was one of the bigger deals of 2008, and she’s signed a three-year contract to design for RCVA in 2009. Right now, the line is something of a hodgepodge — part snarky skater, part San Diego cool kid, part downtown undone — all skinny jeans, high-waisted shorts, graphic tees. Apparently Wasson’s pieces will include zippered blazers and denim cut-offs — and if her time spent with the big deal designer has rubbed off at all, they’ll hopefully be like Alexander Wang but… well… cheaper. (Available online at rvca.com; or at Atrium.)