Caroline Hedaya Spring 2006

Fashion is always a season ahead, so when I had the opportunity recently to preview the Caroline Hedaya Spring 2006 Collection and interview the dynamic duo behind the line, I was absolutely thrilled. Although some of the pieces were out to press when I visited their studio, I was delighted to get a closer look at the beautiful separates before they begin shipping to hip boutiques later this month. Her bio describes Caroline Hedaya as a veritable Eloise, who daydreamt of fashion and all its trimmings from the bedroom of the Manhattan apartment she grew up in. Ms. Hedaya typically rummaged through her Diana Vreeland-loving grandmother's closet, full of vintage Pucci, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent in search of the perfect outfit. Undoubtedly, her classic style can easily be attributed to the exposure she had to these legendary houses at such an early age. Now at the ripe old age of 21, Ms. Hedaya has partnered with her former Fashion Institute of Technology classmate, Donna Baxter, who shared her dream of becoming a fashion designer and icon. Ms. Baxter, who is only 22, refers to herself as a fashion maven by nature. She produced fashion shows at her local high school in Long Island. The pair launched Caroline Hedaya by Donna and Caroline, a young fashion line intended to both grab the quintessential New York girl's attention and add a rung to the New York ladder of style.

Linen Peplum Jacket in Oatmeal (back)

Chiffon Polka Dot Cropped Blouse in Navy (back)

Cropped Blouse paired with High Waist Taffeta Shorts

The ladies began working together when they co-designed three articles (including the jacket in the summary photo) for submission to GenArt. 'It was very recognizable that we were the outcasts in the class,' noted Ms. Baxter. The two sought to combine their fun loving attitude with structured designs to make romantic form-fitting dresses and separates that will flatter and accentuate a woman's curves. They create each item in their line as if they were updating their wardrobes. The collection, which was presented by Elle, debuted on September 11th 2005 at the StyleLounge. The StyleLounge has established itself as the high-end solution for designers, fashion labels, and sponsors looking to achieve an unprecedented level of media awareness and daily traffic during Fashion Week. When asked what the experience was like for them, Ms. Baxter replied, 'It was incredible to show everyone our work!'

Button Tank paired with Linen Peplum Pencil Skirt (back)

Button Tank paired with Linen Peplum Pencil Skirt (front)

Jersey Anything Dress in Navy

I was surprised to learn that Mses. Hedaya and Baxter are so young. Their designs are simple and elegant with a hint of whimsy and romance. The Caroline Hedaya line isn't as trendy as what the designers' contemporaries might wear. The pair seems destined to make their present-day approach to fashion appropriate for a new generation that is yearning and eager to embrace fresh ideas and creations. The lines are clean and unfettered for a classic silhouette, subtly infused with clever design elements. The palette is a sophisticated blend of neutrals. They've integrated fabrics such as silk, linen, jersey, and taffeta, for a look I would describe as 'young sophisticate'.

Button Tank paired with High Waist Linen Pant

Silk Ruffle Strapless Dress

Chiffon Polka Dot Strapless Dress

The prevailing theme for the range is a classic sensibility bridged with flirty playfulness. These pieces are versatile. That's what today's woman wants; separates that function seamlessly from day into night. When I asked about what appeared from the photo to be a pantsuit, but was actually a long-waisted pant paired with their signature tank. Ms. Hedaya noted, how flattering the cut is, 'It elongates the torso.' In a season where waistlines were raised and hems were lowered, the forecast for spring was a return to ladylike dressing. This collection carried out that trend beautifully, while remaining very contemporary and wearable. It's no wonder they cite Marni and Oscar de la Renta as inspirations. The pieces are feminine with delicate details' ruffles, pin-tucking, puffed sleeves, princess seams, slits, shirred bodices, and gathered hems. Ms. Hedaya echoes this sentiment, 'We want women to feel beautiful in our clothing.'

Bustier paired with Linen Open Front Skirt

Graphic Spaghetti Strap Dress

Chiffon Boat Empire Waist Gown

These designers may be young, but what they lack in experience, they more than make up for with enthusiasm, drive, and passion. They have designed a beautiful, well-edited collection of thirty-one separates. My favorite pieces include an oatmeal linen peplum jacket; a navy polka dot chiffon cropped blouse with a Peter Pan collar and gathered sleeve; a flattering jersey dress available in navy and beige (reminiscent of another young design duo, Proenza Schouler); a Narciso Rodriguez-inspired graphic spaghetti strap dress, and the quintessential expression of a nautical, maiden voyage is the navy and white shirred chiffon print dress. The latter seems almost metaphorical as the young pair set out on their own expedition to navigate through the fashion world waters. "We worked so hard on this line and we are proud of each and every piece,' says Ms. Hedaya. "It's so amazing to see our whole collection come to fruition,' says Ms. Baxter. "We just can't wait to finally get it out there!" The collection will be available at Darling in New York (646-336-6966) and Shelly Down Under in New Jersey (732-539-8750) with pricing in the $400-$2,000 range.

For more information, please contact Kristi Nicolucci of Industry Publicity at 212-571-2166 or [email protected]

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