Lulu Frost

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If the line Lulu Frost had a slogan, it would be “in with the old, out with the new.” Turning glimmering finds from the Titanic era into attention-grabbing earrings and stand-out necklaces worn by, well, a high percentage of Met Ball attendees, Lisa Salzer has one of those storied beginnings. After spending her childhood traipsing around her grandmother’s estate-jewelry shop, Lisa unveiled her first designs—made from repurposed Plaza Hotel room numbers—while wrapping up her art history degree at Dartmouth, she cold-called Barneys, and they bought everything.
Breathing new life into lost keys, shoe buckles, buffalo coins, and antique crystal, Lisa, who’s been at it since 2004, is now a genuine powerhouse—she has collaborated with the likes of J.Crew, Alexander Wang, and Chris Benz and has earned the sort of following that gets her work in the pages of Vogue on the reg. “It took me awhile to get my courage up to start cutting and breaking down old jewelry, honestly, because it was so precious to me,” Lisa explains. “But now, I have a different viewpoint on it. I love to make it into something fresh and new.” —carlye wisel

lulufrost.com

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Kora

For Kora’s Maxandra Short, life has been one big ol’ happy accident. When co-founder Amy Walker’s public health gig in Africa took an unexpected turn towards handicraft development, the duo discovered horn and decided to build a jewelry line around the material together. Following the smashing success of the trunk shows unveiling their Rwandan bracelets, Maxandra left her film job in Los Angeles behind and never looked back. “That’s the best time to start your business—when you really hate your current job,” she laughed.

As a kid growing up in Southeast Asia, the designer moved around between places like Seoul and Jakarta, collecting antique and Indonesian jewelry and making her own, too. Though her childhood interests weren’t supposed to evolve in a career, her passion for overseas travel, business development, and craft made it a perfect fit. “My absolute favorite part has been when I’m in Kenya and I’m at the workshop, working on the piece together and trying to tweak it with them,” she said. “When you get it, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

For the past four years, Maxandra and Amy have focused on building a line from four sustainable components: brass, recycled aluminum, glass shards, and, of course, the one that started it all. While it’s probably easy for Maxandra, who has been alone at the helm since a few months ago, to get distracted by collaborating with Rooney Mara or seeing her designs in Vogue editorials, she has committed big-time to economic development in foreign countries—a passion that keeps her bopping around the globe as much as possible. —carlye wisel

koradesigns.com

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Wren

Though Melissa Coker has the uncanny ability to fuse East Coast prep and West Coast chic into one Wren garment, her biggest source of inspiration comes not from L.A. (the city she now calls home) or NYC (where she once lived) but from Lake Forest, Illinois, where the girlish designer spent her formative years. “I grew up in this area where John Hughes filmed all of his movies—it’s an idyllic, Americana type place that totally influences anything that I’m working on,” she says.

But what motivated her to get this line going, years after she left the shores of Lake Michigan? During her time working in editorial, cutting her teeth at magazines like Vogue, W, and Details, she found herself looking for pieces she could never seem to score at stores, and a hunt for a short, full skirt—now a Wren signature—prompted her to start making the damn things herself in 2007, despite her lack of formal design training.

“Wren is named after Jenny Wren, a character in a Dickens novel called Our Mutual Friend. She’s a dressmaker for dolls and represents two sides of the same coin,” she says. “There’s a lot of that in what I do—it might be that a silhouette is really refined but something about the fabric feels distressed.” That approach is exactly what keeps a flirty skirt feeling exciting, season after season. —alisha prakash

wrenstudio.com

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Of a Kind

"A Thing of the Day: Yestadt Millinery Bows" Vogue Russia March 29, 2012

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Supplies and Demand: Farah Malik and Dana Arbib of A Peace Treaty

As though the name A Peace Treaty doesn’t conjure up images of something worldly already: Best friends Farah Malik and Dana Arbib met in Rome, where they hatched the plan to start their jewelry line. Since 2008, the two well-traveled ladies have been working with local artisans from different regions to create pieces that are both lust-worthy and socially-conscious. Here, they talk about the things that inspire them when they’re working at home in NYC. —jiayi


Dana: I visit the Adam and Sophie Gimbel Design Library at Parsons regularly and get lost in old issues of American, British, French and Italian Vogue there. I turned to old magazines after oversaturing myself with the entire design section of the New York Public Library—in essence, magazines are the only things you can never finish looking through.

Farah: I close every night by streaming episodes of Don’t Tell My Mother, which is an off-the-beaten-path travel show about conflict zones. It’s produced and hosted by uber-hottie Diego Bunuelfilmmaker Luis Bunuel’s grandson. He’s traveled to some of the countries we’ve worked in.

We’ve chatted with some other crazy-amazing designerscheck them out here.

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The Insider: Eviana Hartman of Bodkin Talks About “This Weird, Special Place” Called Los Angeles

The newly minted Cali resident and founder of the whimsically modern (and sustainable) clothing line Bodkin spent a long time in New York, covering fashion at Vogue, Teen Vogue, and Nylon before launching her own line. Here, she opens up about why she went West and what she’s loving about her new environs. nathalie

Q: How long have you lived in L.A.?

A: Just over two months, after 11 years in NYC.

Q: Why did you move there?

A: For love (I’m marrying an L.A. native this year), for a change of scenery, for a better quality of life, for the outdoors—and to escape the abrasive attitude and constant physical discomfort of New York. It was a great place to discover oneself and make connections, but when you find yourself shimmying through an 18-inch gap between a seven-foot-tall dirty snowbank and a diesel-spewing ConEd truck, heels on ice and toes dipped in a slush puddle, to catch a bus, while holding a huge bag of samples, something in you snaps.

Q: Who are your favorite L.A.-based designers?

A: Jasmin Shokrian, who brings an artist’s vocabulary and perspective to her choices in color and form. Band of Outsiders, because my fiance looks adorable in their shirts. Rodarte, of course—their work is about material experimentation, emotion, memory, and meaning, in a way that characterizes art, not fashion. Jesse Kamm, because she is my friend and is so smart and cool and funny—and has an effortless, airy aesthetic with an environmentally mindful approach.

Q: What aspect of the city’s culture would you say is most inspirational for you?

A: For me, it’s the city’s post-modernity—its complexity. It feels like a place that is new and changing—where there is possibility around every corner. I have been reading strictly L.A. books lately—Mike Davis’s City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear, The Day of the Locust, and some Joan Didion—and just really getting into the hidden subtleties of this weird, special place.

It’s L.A. month at Of a Kind! More on that here.

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Of a Kind

Mandy Coon in the May Vogue! She’s a serious talent. So excited for her Fall 2010 line; every single piece is a big pile of want.

Vogue!! on Twitpic

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Of a Kind

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Of a Kind

Wren Spring 2010

There are so many good blazers and jackets in this collection. Los Angeles based Melissa Coker founded Wren in 2007 after tooting all around the fashion industry, from Helmut Lang to Vogue, and some other notable places in between.

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