Founded: Spring 2008
Story: Born and raised in Barcelona until the age of 10, when he was sent to a military school in California, Frank Tell still remembers his introduction to the world of design. "When my dad passed away, one of the things that helped get me out of my depression was my grandma taking me to a trim shop where there were a bunch of old ladies sewing," he remembers. Tell enrolled at New York University, picking up side jobs with cult label threeASFOUR and designer Sue Stemp, but it was working with photographer Bruce Weber that led him to consider fashion. At 20, he started his own company, designing just five dresses that landed him meetings at WWD,Vogue, and Elle.The Look: In addition to his fanciful, dense, and drapey runway offerings, each season he offers 10 to 15 'signature items' -- commercially-minded pieces with minor refinements.
Founded: March 2010
Story: Seattle-native Gobel returned home and briefly ran a flower shop at the city's Ace Hotel after studying fashion for three years at London's Central Saint Martins. "I wanted to be in the art and fashion world and to be around creative people," he says, so he transplanted to New York and helped launch Thom Browne's label. After three-and-a-half years there, a mentor at Men's Vogue suggested he work for then-newcomer Michael Bastian. "I thought, 'OK, I'm going from one uniform to another but it's going to be a much sluttier, sexier uniform,'" he says. When Gobel finally felt prepared to embark on his own venture, he wrote CFDA president Diane von F'rstenberg who met with him to offer her support. The Look: Pulling from both Browne's subverted menswear archetypes and Bastian's luxe classics, Gobel's clothing balances charming swagger and subtle opulence: texturally rich and vibrant without being twee.
Founded: September 2009
The Story: Before establishing his fashion line, Timo Weiland toiled in the number-crunching field of finance, but he abandoned Wall Street to dabble in freelance consulting where he met Alan Eckstein and Donna Kang. Their instant synergy seemed ready-made for a business collaboration and the trio launched a line of ties and scarves, which was met with enthusiastic retail support. Building upon that initial momentum, they introduced a full ready-to-wear collection for Spring 2010, currently sold at top stores including Barneys and Opening Ceremony. The Look: "We're an American brand, and we love and embrace that, but we're not 'Americana lumberjack'. It's a bit more dandy,' he says. Think liberal use of pattern, a painterly eye for color and a slim, European cut.
Founded: February 2007
Story: Born and raised in Mexico City, Cota originally moved to Paris to study painting before switching to fashion. After graduating from New York's Parsons School of Design, Cota assisted designer Angel Sanchez, learning techniques like fabric painting and hand embroidery alongside a circle of young socialites. "Working with them, I saw that there was something missing in the market -- old world elegance, but in a younger way. What the granddaughters of women who wear Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera would wear." The Look: Cota says his two main influences are nature and art but his ladylike tailoring combined with a dramatic feel for color and texture can be traced to a variety of influences. Sophisticated but not stuffy has become his mien, earning him the Fashion Group International's Rising Star Award in 2009.
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