The Fashion Five 

New York Designers to Watch in 2008

Lily Raskind, Sunshine and Shadow
Lily Raskind, the creative mind behind S&S, has been mixing her personal brand of sportswear-meets-chic since her Spring-Summer collection came out in 2005, but really saw the fruits of her labor with her recent Spring-Summer collection, which did gangbusters at girly hotspots like Bird in Cobble Hill. Raskind’s fall offerings are fiery and bold — mixing neon yellow with gray for a wrap-around scarf and turning the bubble skirts and snap shirts that were so addictive in summer into warm-weather staples. As if she couldn’t get more lovable, this Brooklyn resident also reads The L while she’s doing laundry. Though the major inspiration for her spring-summer collection was the shark, Lily insisted she actually found great inspiration as a designer by working in the city. “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.”

Araks Yeramyan, ARAKS
ARAKS has been the darling of boutique owners and fashion editors for several seasons, yet somehow has flown just far enough under the radar to avoid the kind of hubbub some of her compatriots have seen. That won’t last long, so get in on this talent before she’s selling out at Barneys. Her fall collection is comfortable, effortless chic, all slouchy gray pants, flowing silk blouses and draped cocktail attire. It’s clear Yeramyan is a tactile designer, focused on how the fabrics she chooses interact with the women wearing them. “When I started ARAKS, it was a small group of cotton underwear. I wanted to create lingerie for women that they wore for themselves and felt beautiful in. Something special to wear everyday. With each collection I’m looking to create pieces that evoke that same feeling. This season is a juxtaposition of masculine and feminine styling, detailing and silhouette.” When looking for inspiration, she takes a historic route: “I love going through the archives of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute. There is nowhere else where you can get within one inch of garments that are over 300 years old.”

Nancy Kim, Devotte
In case you were living under a rock, Devotte’s brassy, feminine sandals and sling-backs were the biggest hit of the summer, replacing Loeffler Randal in the windows of West Village and Park Slope boutiques and framing the pedicures of fashionable dames from Prospect Park to Rockefeller Center with Amazonian names like ‘The Beatrix’ and ‘The Diana.’ With a design tagline of, “Shoes Made With Devotion,” it’s no surprise that Kim’s fall collection of butter-soft flat boots and kittenish heels will prove even more addictive.

Matthew Ames
When I first saw Matthew Ames’s Spring-Summer 2007 collection, I thought I was looking at couture. It’s one of the few collections I’ve seen in years from a young designer that’s propelled by sheer talent in craftsmanship. Ames has the sense of a seasoned veteran in terms of where to put a seam, how to create architecture through simply-cut fabric… There will be those who cry “sacrilege,” but I dare say he is Balenciaga in Brooklyn. His fall collection is filled with dramatic sleeves created with minimal, deliberate seams, as well as color-block dresses and suggestive cut-outs. While Mr. Ames is known for being slightly reclusive, there’s only so long he’ll be a “best-kept secret” while he’s selling in Bergdorf Goodman.

Lisa Levine, Lisa Levine Jewelry

While most New Yorkers think the city can prove a heady source of inspiration for any artist, some get their jolt by voyaging beyond its boundaries. Lisa Levine found her center when she moved to San Miguel de Allende, an artists’ community in central Mexico, and started producing jewelry. Now back in New York (where she will hopefully stay), Levine maintains she still draws inspiration from “both the organic and the architectural and the places where they intersect, the geometry of the body, of lines lying gently over the curves therein, connecting this body part to that body part.” Fashion moments in the bowels of the subway now inspire her, as does being part of the “breath of the city.” As she puts it, New York is a “place that is birthing new ideas, new designs, new art every second. Fast and full… New York is like a steam kettle on high.”

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