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From India, With Love And Sparkle

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“Embellishment was extraordinarily intimidating,” says New York-based designer Rachel Antonoff, whose namesake label, sold at retailers like Barneys and Steven Alan, has for several seasons skewed more cute than glam. (“I design for myself in my daydreams,” she jokes, “so it’s me—but a little bit taller.”) But she took a new step in a more elevated direction for Fall when, on the recommendation of friend and fellow designer Timo Weiland, she enlisted the help of Milaaya Embroideries, a Mumbai-based fair trade sewing co-op whose client list includes big name designers such as Balmain, Lanvin, Marni, and Givenchy. “I loved all the fabric people in New York, but this was just a really special environment,” says Antonoff, who equates Milaaya’s New York headquarters (they also have offices in Milan and Paris) with “a candy land of embellishment swatches.”

The result is a brightly colored, checkered embroidery that adorns select pieces of Antonoff’s Fall ’12 collection. Dubbed by the young designer as “the chiclet,” after the gum, the playful pattern of glass beads and cotton threads can be found on chic, collared dresses (the Jack combo dress, pictured) and simple T-shirts with festive sleeves. This foray into embellishment has already garnered “best-selling” potential from a slew of interested buyers, and the designer plans to continue the experiment in seasons to come. That is, if she can overcome her new problem. “Now I have to figure out how to avoid going embellishment crazy,” she says. “It’s like chocolate, once you have a little taste you have to learn how to scale back.”

 

 

 

Photo: Thomas Iannaccone

 

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