Luxury Lab

Au Courant

Calling All Trendsetters: You know who you are: You coveted round-toed Mary Janes while your pals still pined for pumps with toes so pointy they could be used as weapons. You heralded the return of the high-waisted pant while the masses continued shopping for jeans with a rise that could only be measured in centimeters. When it comes to driving trends, you’re more than happy to take the wheel, and S.B.-based wants your help. We first told you about the site’s designer contest, Collection 1.0, a couple months ago; since then, the fashionistas at blaec have narrowed the field to six finalists (one of whom, vintage-minded Drew Noble, is a local girl) whose collections are up for viewing and voting at Voting ends October 26; winners will be announced November 1; and the collections with the most votes will be available for purchase next spring at And we know who’ll be first in line.

Rory Beca

Foliage, What Foliage? The season’s changing, which can mean only one thing: The inventory is changing, too. Between her four shops, Wendy Foster has tons of new lines, but the buyers have their faves. At Angel (1221 Coast Village Rd.), check Rory Beca’s dresses and separates, and if fall has you craving cozy cashmere, Sportswear (516 San Ysidro Rd., Montecito) has you covered: Check out new collections from White & Warren and Autumn Cashmere, and kiss those goose bumps goodbye.

Think Stylishly, Act Locally: Owner of The Lotus Boutique (637 Chapala St.) and jewelry designer Erica Om continues to build her shop’s unmatched collection of S.B. lines. New area-made goodies include jewelry from Ooh LA LA and Lama, and handmade clothing from Giusta. Meanwhile, over at Arcobaleno Trade (7 W. Haley St.), fair-trade goddess Sandie Doles has picked up the locally produced, karma-conscious, and super-stylish Super Buddha line of organic duds. Stop by, and feel the om.

Spotlight On:

“We spend a third of our lives in bed; why not give it the wardrobe it deserves?” So reads the homepage of 30-year-old Caressa Allen’s Web site-and with a philosophy like that, you can bet her company, Luxury Lab (, isn’t slinging your average duvets. Laura Ashley it ain’t, and if you’re in the market for the standard-issue plaids, stripes, or florals, you’d best look elsewhere. Allen, a Lake Tahoe native, has always loved home furnishings, but wanted something different-something youthful, pop-culture inspired, modern, but livable. In short, something for her, and the stylish-bedding-challenged masses like her. She began silk-screening her own designs, but the process proved labor-intensive, the logistics of working with a 10-foot screen hairy. So, she spent 2006 building a relationship with a fair-trade manufacturer in India, developing designs, and getting samples produced, and the results are nothing shy of fabulous. Her duvets and shams are made from super-supple 300 thread-count Egyptian cotton, and the silk-screening uses a water-based ink, so the designs-which are edgy, graphic, and decidedly cool-are rendered soft, flush with the fabric. Her third series will be available online next month, as well as at Robert Craymer Collection (1233 State St.) and Punch Interieur (4950 Carpinteria Ave., Carpinteria). [UPDATE: Punch has since moved to 1223 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.] Allen plans on branching out to other accessories-for-the-abode, like lampshades and curtains, but first thing’s first: bedding for dogs. Her two Jack Russells are jealous.

Shop This:

It’s so much easier to temper a Visa bill-induced bout of buyer’s remorse if a portion of your purchase went to a good cause, and this month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, options abound for ladies looking to do womankind-not to mention their wardrobes-some good. Betsey Johnson (939 State St.) is hosting a breast cancer awareness party Thursday, October 18, from 4-7 p.m. Twenty percent of the proceeds will go to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, as will 100 percent of the proceeds from a raffle: $10 earns you a chance to win an adorable tank autographed by Betsey Johnson, herself a breast cancer survivor. : Then, on Sunday, October 21, stop by Lucy Activewear (3825 State St.), for a Pretty in Pink party, which goes to benefit S.B.’s Breast Cancer Resource Center. Customers score a 10 percent discount, while 10 percent of all proceeds go to the center. I’ve heard word of goodie bags stuffed with quality products, and between 1-4 p.m., refreshments from the pink food group (lemonade, cookies, and cupcakes, oh my!) will be provided. If you’d like to attend, RSVP to or 682-4632.

Check Out:

Black Star Trading & New Deal

Any StylePhile knows this golden rule of shopping: If cash is an issue (and, hello, where we live, cash is always an issue), splurge on classic pieces, but when it comes to trends, the cheaper, the better. And nowhere is this axiom more in evidence than State Street mainstays Black Star Trading (430 State St.) and sister shop New Deal (619 State St.), two well-kept secrets I love for the following reasons.

1) The inventory is built around up-to-the-minute trends, done cheap enough to let you try them out without going into debt. Right now, that means coats of all shapes and sizes, in ¼ber-trendy metallics and a rainbow of brights, plus the usual stable of graphic tees, Paul Frank duds, dresses, and hats.

2) Halloween’s just around the corner, and they’ve got costumes for everyone. (Well, almost: I have to wonder, where does one go to find a not-so-naughty nurse ensemble?)

3) Their inconspicuous presence, friendly salespeople, and consistently killer tunes. And more accessories than you can shake a stick at.


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