Beauty & Technology

In the Hoodie

Two LA-based designers bring fashion forward flair to the basic hoodie

Avril Lavigne may have popularized the zip up hoodie, but go to any urban center or suburban mall and you’ll find ladies and gents of all ages sporting hoodies emblazoned with the name of their favorite band or some subversive saying. A hoodie is a quintessential comfort clothing item, but Los Angeles-based designers Ali Barone and Violet Valen are elevating this wardrobe basic to more fashionable levels.

Barone launched her Lipstick Prophets line of hoodies after she shuttered Stiletto Killers, the fashion company she launched with Kelly Osbourne. Lipstick Prophets hoodies feature oversized hoods, thick zippers and a youthful, form-fitting silhouette but the line has also manufactured skirts, jackets, leggings and tees. Barone focused on loungewear, as opposed to high fashion garments because of the “unfortunate” Los Angeles fashion scene, where she noticed so many people bumming around in unstylish sweats. LP hoodies are designed to prevent women from looking frumpy while running errands. “It’s so easy to slap a graphic on a blank, pre-fab hoodie,” Barone muses.

“I wanted to re-invent the hoodie and make it more girlie and fitted specially for gals. They look great on girls of all sizes.” Barone, who is inspired by music and her friends, who often don’t even realize they are inspiring and indirectly collaborating with her, admits a friend calls her LP hoodie her “girdle,” saying, “Not because it’s tight but because it is so slimming.” In ’09, Barone will issue striped shirts in 4-color ways but she plans to steer away from graphic tees in favor of working with textured fabrics and a dress collection. She finishes, “The first thing LP ever did was a pair of Capri sailor pants. I love the loungewear but I am looking towards dresses and jackets. I guess I am maturing or something. Or bored.” Visit www.lipstickprophets.com and check out the company’s eponymous, 16-page lifestyle mag, which replaces a standard catalogue.

Valen, on the other hand, custom-designs her intricate and styled hoodies that feature teddy bear cut outs that are more uniquely chic than they are cute. “Right now, I hand make every piece,” the designer admits. “I pre-cut and wash all my patches and patterncut and hand-dye the hoodies. They all require tons of hand sewing so when I’m preparing a new collection, I will be sewing 6 hours a day.” Valen, a native of downtown L.A., was inspired to do this signature Buddy Sweatshirt while in college and working as a nanny. Rather than slouch around in a wardrobe of tees and jeans, she began to customize her precious hoodies and admits, “Nannying also inspired a creative, playfulness in my sewing. I wanted to incorporate my love of teddy bears and this was the result.” Valen’s hoodies are made from fabrics and bears she unearths while scouring vintage shops in her home city, which she proudly states that there is more to the city “than plastic surgery and traffic jams.” She cuts the bears up, two-dimensionalizes them and works them into a hoodie that she deems “wearable art” that’s not for everyone. Fashionistas who appreciate quirk will nab Valen’s hoodies. She is currently working on finding a manufacturer that will allow her to produce them on a wider scale.

– AMY SCIARRETTO

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