You may have heard the statement that some of the best designers known to man come straight from the fashion capitals of the world – New York, London, Paris and Milan – but did you know that some of the best designers around are located in our neck of the woods? For a lesson in high fashion, with California style, look to these top OC-based designers.
Orange County, CA
A graduate of the Art Institute of California-Orange County, Coral Castillo has positioned herself as one of the most sought-after designers out of Orange County. Castillo's designs have already amassed a number of notable accolades including "Best of Woman's Day Wear for Discarded to Divine" (2009, 2010) and a first place finish at the Design Competition for OC Fashion Week (2011). A pro on the OC fashion scene, Coral Castillo's garments denote a crisp and sharp spin where edge meets glamor with far-ranging contemporary appeal. The appeal is so high that Castillo's designs have been enlisted for the pages of VOGUE Italia, quite the feat for an Orange County native.
Huntington Beach, CA
Already making a name for herself as the founder of the Orange County Fashion Showcase and the Orange County Fashion Trade Association, designer Deanna Hodges is the mastermind behind the Hodges Collection. The eponymous label underscores California chic with its range of flowing maxi dresses, beach glam accessories and casually luxe apparel. A local favorite, the Hodges collection continues to make routine appearances, already having been featured in editorial layouts for LA Fashion Magazine and Coast Magazine.
Orange County, CA
Fashion designer Walter Mendez is a designer on a mission to take over the realms of the LA fashion market before ultimately moving on to the world's center stage. Already a favorite on the red carpet, Mendez' label the Walter Collection is already making the rounds for the media and press, and that includes a stint in Vogue Magazine via an ad for Sprint and landing a spot at New York Fashion Week. Offering women's ready-to-wear and menswear, the Walter Mendez collection can best be summed up as a fusion of haute couture with a European pulse influenced by a Californian aesthetic.
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Huntington Beach, CA
A regular on the Orange County fashion circuit, designer Noelle Nicole's collection of women's wear encapsulates timeless pieces with an Old Hollywood flair. One of the signature components of the Noelle Nicole Collection is the designer's use of high-quality imported silk materials – handmade and tailored to flatter the woman's figure. Noelle Nicole's designs have been spotted on the red carpet, including the Cannes Film Festival and on the pages of the OC Register and Coast Magazine. The Orange County native cites her upbringing in the OC and growing up in a family full of artists as fueling her drive to become a designer.
303 Broadway St.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
An Orange Country transplant by way of Peru, designer Jessica Barkley's fashion career began as a model while studying in college on a Fulbright Scholarship. Barkley quickly rose up the ranks after graduating from FIDM where she began working on her first line of alpaca coats named KURU. Operating out of Laguna Beach, today the Jessica Barkley collection features a range of evening dresses, cocktail dresses and bridal wear that is marked by an elegant and contemporary display of style heavily influenced by Barkley's stay in Paris. The collection has generated an impressive buzz, including a feature in wethepeople.com and a spread in Coast Magazine.
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Barbara Akowuah is a freelance journalist based in Southern California. As a fashion examiner who is privy to style, Barbara loves to write about fashion and how it relates to the Los Angeles scene. Barbara loves to dish out the latest trends, style tips, and inside scoop. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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