Sunshine and Shadow 

A Williamsburg Designer Hits the Sporty-is-Chic Jackpot

I never knew how clumsy I was until I started dating a natural athlete. If there’s a staircase to fall down or a slippery patch of ice, I’ll eat it. While I never assumed I was a total klutz, I always conceded I was in no way “sporty.” I find the athletic mystique is more tantalizing to those of us who lived our lives outside the varsity team. While fashion’s periodic infatuation with sportswear never surprised me (any excuse to use neon windbreakers), it always seemed tongue-in-cheek, since the fashion community seemed a breed apart from the “sweat set.” We were all of us dorks, albeit high-class dorks.  

This season, it is with no small amount of glee that designers from Marni to Karen Walker are revisiting the high-end sportswear that was so glamorous in the late-80s and early 90s (think bright whites, anoraks and trainers). But every time I’ve gone shopping for something wearable, the name on everyone’s lips is Sunshine and Shadow. Lily Raskind, who created the line, has put together the kind of stand-out collection other young designers only dream about; clothes that perfectly embody a certain trend, time and place, and sell out in all the stores. With vibrant hues, washed silk and body-skimming skirts and dresses, her clothes manage to be playful and dressed up at the same time, teasing out a sporty-girls-are-sexy theme without falling into 80s nostalgia.

I’ll admit, my crush was complete when I discovered that Lily lives in Williamsburg, reads The L on laundry days, and isn’t at all aloof. Emailing back and forth, I learned that Lily, too, grew up with a dress-up box, though hers was filled with vintage gems her grandmother would bring home from a thrift shop. Her inspiration for her spring line was team mascots: “I chose the great white shark,” she said. Shark tooth patterns are visible throughout the collections: here an aqua silk scarf, there a flouncy skirt. A youthful, aquarium palette is persistent in the clothes, from a bright pacific blue snap dress to a sky aquamarine print on a washed silk anorak.

Like most local designers, Lily finds inspiration in oddball public places. “Everywhere in the city there’s good people-watching, but the subway is probably my favorite,” she insists. “I think New York is great because you come in contact with so many different kinds of people with all types of style. It’s such a public place — you’re exposed to so much all the time.” Similarly, we are ourselves exposed all the time. Thanks, Lily, for giving me some spring pieces I won’t be ashamed to be seen wearing on the B train.

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