Liberte, Egalite, Fashion Take the Stage

An attractive, eclectic crowd of fashion lovers stormed the gates of the French Embassy Sunday for the culmination of Fashion Week. The event spotlighted new designers bringing a forward-thinking esprit to the Washington fashion scene. 

Kalaa, a new women's contemporary clothing line, debuted a collection designed to capture culture and world travel in a professional wardrobe. "We blend ethnic textiles with Western silhouettes" said Nisha Thirumurthy, CEO, who was inspired to start designing while working as an energy consultant in Hong Kong. "I spent hours walking through Hong Kong, looking at woven textiles." (Detail from Kalaa Collection pictured at right)

Then, the Tuck School of Business MBA took her passion back to the villages of India, where fabrics not only inspire a Western designer's eye -- but help the craftswomen who weave and sell the textiles.

"Our clothes are very wearable in day-to-day life, and they also reflect India's rich handloom  tradition," Nisha said. Her business partner, Katherine Bates (to the right of Thirumurthy, photo right), brings a New Yorker's sense of immediacy to the clothes. "Through my world traveling," said the California native, "I became more and more interseted in the exquisite cuts of high fashion products, but wanted to see aspects from my travels incorporated in the detailing." A Californian openness combines with a global flavor to inform Kalaa's designs. See more here.

Speaking of flavor, Mie 'n Yu's Emily Jarmuth and Oliver David donned stylish designs from Georgetown as they surveyed the scene from the VIP lounge. The eclectic international restaurant has consistently raised the fashion and global hipness factor in Georgetown. For her part, events manager Jarmuth wore several items of clothing bought in Georgetown boutiques. "It's the only part of Washington with a distinct style," Jarmuth said. "It's our Manhattan." For his part, Oliver is a fashion designer himself. "I'm insprired by Edith Head," he said, referring to the famous Hollywood costume creator. (Emily Jarmuth and Jimmie Jones, FashionWeek DC associate producer pictured at left)

Just beyond the catwalks and the camera's was a mini-boutique set up by Heydari, the Georgetown women's clothing designer. "Heydari" is Mariam Heydari, who combines and exotic Eastern aesthetic with a modern women's sense of movement and style. "After 25 years in retail," her Web site says, "I learned that clothing has to be comfortable, in motion and at rest." Light fabrics float around the body, flattering and concealing in just the right measures. Heydari's captivating collections have led to three separate stores in the area, including Helia's at 1338 Wisconsin Ave. NW. A new jewelry line in gold, silver and gun metal offers pearl wearers a stylish yet simple alternative to the repetitive and mundane. See more here.