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East Coast Chic vs. West Coast Style

07.20.11 Mimi Plange Feature

We’re all influenced by our surroundings. Everything from the kind of music we choose to the food we eat, and of course, the clothes we wear are products of our environments.  The world of couture fashion is no different. From coast to coast, designers are known for translating their experiences into artwork onto the runways and into boutiques.  Cotton Candy contributor Savannah Duncan tracked down New York City designer Mimi Plange and Los Angeles designer Lauren Elaine to discover the fashion tale of these two cities.

Lauren Elaine: West Coast Style

“I’m a California girl, born and raised in San Diego,” says celebrity designer Lauren Elaine. “I can’t imagine living outside of Los Angeles.”

Now owner of several of LA’s most sought-after fashion brands, Elaine grew up sewing, pattern making and modeling, where she says she learned about the world of design. After attending college at the University of Texas, she returned to California and became self-educated on the business of fashion.

“I love the landscape, the energy and lifestyle. While the fashion scene may not be as saturated as that of New York, the merging of fashion and the entertainment industry provides unbeatable marketing and publicity opportunities.”

(Dolls, click on the photos below.)

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In her label repertoire is the Black Label Collection – ideal for the red carpet – and the SWIM collection, which Elaine says is is 100 percent inspired by the classic California beach girl. “The Los Angeles lifestyle and spirit are hugely reflected in my designs,” she explains. The popular designer has also created an eco-friendly, boho-chic line, the LAINE by Lauren Elaine, directly inspired by Los Angeles’ eternal 70s spirit.

With her designs sold predominately on the West Coast, Elaine describes her overall aesthetic as reinventing the “princess” archetype — ultra feminine, effortlessly elegant and completely regal.

Though the word “princess” might conjure images of Hollywood royalty floating down the red carpet, Elaine says her collections inspired by the various California girls and targets anyone who wants to feel beautiful.

Mimi Plange: East Coast Chic

“I felt like New York was one of the major fashion cities of the world, and if I wanted to do fashion, it had to be here or Paris,” says East Coast designer Mimi Plange, creator of a prolific, luxury womenswear.

“The environment in New York has taught me so much and propelled me forward at a faster rate because everyone here is pushing forward,” she says. “There is a survival-of-the-fittest atmosphere here, and being in this environment has been a great teacher of perseverance and strength.”

Despite her desire to design, originally Plange’s family felt she needed a more stable degree, so she originally attended the University of California – Berkley and majored in architecture.

“I’m really glad I made that move, as it helped me to define my current style and gave me discipline before attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.”

(Dolls, click on the photos below.)

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Plange had dreams of moving to New York City early on in her life, and eventually realized that dream upon graduating.  She says it’s the environment and people in New York that have had a huge impact on her designs, which Plange says are targeted at the affluent, cultured and those who enjoy looking unique.

“Everyone is so individual in their style of dress that it’s completely inspiring,” says the designer who will show her spring 2012 collection at NYC’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in September. “The streetwear mixed with luxury; it’s classic, eclectic and forward all at the same time. The many different cultures and their fusion into this environment bring their own element of influence. I try to think of ways to use my surroundings to stimulate the design of a garment that will be beautiful, traditional and functional while allowing someone to move elegantly through what can be a somewhat chaotic environment,” Plange explains.

“I want the best, the unique and the wearable, and [my client] wants the same for herself.”

Cotton Candy Contributor: Savannah Duncan

Cotton Candy Magazine®