Tuesday, May 12, 2009
above: looks from Spring/Summer 09
all images courtesy of Wren
Los Angeles based label Wren takes its name from a darkly romantic figure in the Dickens novel Our Mutual Friend, named Jenny Wren, who makes dresses for little dolls, but the label produces spirited, feminine frocks with a hint of tomboy toughness. The line, started by designer and founder Melissa Coker, has developed a loyal and famous fanbase in just two short years, including bright young things, Katie Holmes and Rose Byrnes. I recently purchased an unapologetically feminine, violet silk and chiffon dress from Wren and… I must say I’m hooked. The dress is flattering, wearable and seasonless, but definitely not boring: something I can wear to the office under a light jacket, then on to a fundraiser uptown and later, to an afterparty downtown. Take a look at this interview with the lovely Melissa Coker and be prepared to enter the enchanted world of Wren…
When designer Melissa Coker tells the story of how she started her womenswear label, Wren, it nearly sounds like the wild, random path of a character from a Dickens novel, which happened to provide the inspiration for the label’s name. No stranger to the fashion world, Coker decided to start her own line after stints at Helmut Lang, Vogue and W. “I decided to make some things for myself that I was wanting but couldn't find in the market,” she explains. “In the end, I had a grouping that felt more like a collection than random odds and ends, so I decided to show the pieces to Opening Ceremony and they bought the whole collection.”
Since that auspicious first collection for Autumn/Winter 2007, Wren has shown five collections and recently began showing at New York Fashion Week. “I definitely draw inspiration from both cities,” Coker says. “I lived in New York for nearly 10 years before relocating to LA and I find that the cities complement one another so nicely.”
above and below: looks from Spring/Summer 09
The label’s style, Coker says, has “toughened up a bit,” over the past few seasons. “The Wren girl is more like a super feminine heroine with a tomboy’s touch these days,” she explains. Along with the label’s subtle stylistic changes, she says her design process has become more formalized, starting with inspiration boards and the formulation of a muse for the season.
For Spring/Summer 2009, Coker took cues from hand-crafted techniques like batik and tie-dye: “I wouldn't go as far as saying that there was a hippie element to the collection but certainly a bit of that LA folk sort of feeling.” The most recent collection, for Autumn/Winter 2009, was “more about the pretty trouble maker a la Cybil Shepherd in The Last Picture Show or the school kids in To Sir with Love,” she says of Autumn’s mod delinquent look.
Future plans for the label include building an online store on the Wren website. In addition, Coker says she finished shooting a Holiday 2009 lookbook, which should be online soon. "Alexa Chung and Tennessee Thomas modeled and the pictures are so sweet I could die," she gushes. Expect great things from this designer, who, for now, seems content to continue building her business on the West Coast: "Everything I make is produced here in LA which I am really proud of. It feels great to be able to help sustain the local garment industry not to mention the environmental upside from producing all the goods locally."
above and below: looks from Autumn/Winter 09
Wren is available at various outlets worldwide, including Planet Blue, Henri Bendel and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong. A selection is also available at Revolve Clothing online. For more information, please check out http://www.wren-clothing.com and http://www.revolveclothing.com/brandpages/wren.jsp.
Paper Magazine profile of Wren
Racked LA story about Spring collection at Feature
Uinterview with Melissa Coker
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