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Photographs by Joe Niem

Sea Change: Heather Kellems' Faeryfetish Designs tread the line between land and sea, dream and waking. Here, in a duo that Brooks College student Kellems has named 'Liquid,' a top made of wire, pantyhose, herringbone braid trim and acrylic paint is paired with a fully lined flounced skirt made of hand-painted habotai silk.

Choose Your Own Adventure

THIS FALL'S LOOK luxuriates in individuality. Lush, classic and arty—boutique fashionistas are pushing pieces, and the more unique and handcrafted they are, the better. Silkscreened jackets, embroidered shirts, tie-dyed sweaters, handmade scarves, hand-tooled bags ... all lend personality. Copycat dressing is out; personal style is where it's at. Who—or what—do you want to be this season?

In Metro Style 2004, we look at some wearable identities created by local up-and-coming designers. Students and graduates from the Brooks College and West Valley College fashion design departments reveal their iconoclastic visions, from mermaid to matador. Cupertino-based designer Bella Dolci ponies up with his half Harley-Davidson, half cowboy handbags—art pieces with attitude.

Art and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand. It's art that gives fashion style. And while it may be true, as Edna W. Chase famously said, that "fashion can be bought; style one must possess," personality goes a long way toward formulating both.

—Traci Vogel

Ruche 'n Roulette: Sara Ellinger knows fantasy. 'I love to dream and live another life through my designs,' says the Brooks College student. For this dream of a top, Ellinger was inspired by fashions of the 18th century—a particularly wealthy period, when luxury discovered the middle class. Romantic tops abound this season, with ruched (gathered) fabrics dominating.

Pattern Recognition: West Valley College graduate Joyita Ghose's handpainted silk scarves draw on images from nature and folk art. Ghose, who taught herself the process after seeing handpainted scarves displayed at an art fair, says that with each piece she strives to tell a story. You can purchase her scarves at www.poshaq.com. Scarves highlight the fashion landscape for fall; designers use them as belts, shawls, chokers and even in place of watchbands.

Toro Chic: Brooks College student Kelly Williams deems her Spanish matador jacket the perfect piece for 'someone who wants to be seen.' Less adorned than traditional matador jackets, this fashion bull's-eye charges in where the timid fear to tread. Cropped matador-style jackets are seen this season paired with jeans and pencil skirts. Metallic gold and silver accents win over the designer set.

Jacket Not Required: Janine Riemer's tie dress arose from the knotty dilemma of staying fashionable in high school. Having no money, but wanting something 'different,' Riemer kept picking up vintage ties at thrift stores: 'wacky ties that nobody would want to wear—wool, silk poly, even some designer ties like Dior.' Inspiration struck. She likes the way the shape and form of the ties complement the line of the body, and how the edge of the ties gives the hem a 'Tinkerbell effect.'

Luggage Nut: Cupertino-based Bella Dolci dreams up gear for the rugged iconoclast and the delicate individualist alike. Truly one-of-a-kind, each bag is crafted of leather and calfskin, with hand-tooled hardware. Like Clint Eastwood in 'Dirty Harry,' these are bags that keep coming back for more abuse, and just look more authentic. Available at www.belladolci.com.

Thanks to Kathleen J. Evans, Fashion Design and Merchandising Department chair at Brooks College; Ruth Carlson, public affairs director at West Valley College; and Halvorson Model Mgmt and their models Kim and Karla, Maria Lee makeup and Krisann Ranes at 33 South Third.

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the August 25-31, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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