FASHION FORWARD DESIGNER TO THE STARS UNVEILS DOWN-TO-EARTH RETAIL LINES.
WOODLAND HILLS - Linda Stokes' creations got her into J. Lo's wardrobe; now she wants to get into regular folks' closets, too.
Dresses destined for famous shoulders overflow from Stokes' packed home studio, lying over suits, shoes and bags that cost more than automobiles. She decked out will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas for the Grammys and Joan Rivers worked the red carpet in Stokes' sleek wares. This week, she's eyeing work for Melissa Rivers and Angelina Jolie for the Academy Awards. But with a client list ranging from Hulk Hogan's family to Donna Summer, the designer's still not satisfied.
This week, Stokes' company - LSO Sports Ltd. - unveiled its new retail lines at the MAGIC Marketplace fashion trade show in Las Vegas, a move she hopes will take her to a whole new kind of consumer.
``With my couture, the average person can't afford it,'' Stokes said. ``I want to do something more people can enjoy ... They like to look fabulous, too.''
Brooke Hogan, teen pop singer and 16-year-old daughter of wrestling star Hulk Hogan, wanted to look fabulous for the Grammys, but went the couture route. On short notice, Stokes whipped up a backless number with a long frilly train in a striking burnt coral sunset hue.
``I called her three days before the Grammys and was like, Linda I'm in dire need and I can't find anything at Nordstrom, please help me,'' said Hogan, who also went to Stokes for the MTV Video Music Awards. ``She already knew exactly what I needed, so it felt like no trouble at all.''
But while a rush job for a flashy, bejeweled dress like that can ring up a price of $10,000, the ballerina-inspired TuTu Cute line will fetch slightly more modest prices. Stokes envisions selling them in upscale department stores, with wholesale prices of $30 for a shirt and $175 for a jacket. To give the line a promotional boost, she recently designed some adult-size versions for Gwen Stefani's fashion trend-setting Harajuku Girls ensemble.
Moving from high fashion to the retail world has become increasingly common, according to Ernae Mothershed, public-relations manager for the Woodland Hills-based MAGIC. Michael Kors, Donna Karan and Isaac Mizrahi have all introduced lower-priced lines, taking them into the realm of department stores and even Target, in Mizrahi's case.
``We're really seeing this a lot in the industry these days,'' Mothershed said. ``It increases the exposure and there's a much larger market with the lower price point. By creating a line that reflects the style but is more affordable, they've got more customers and revenue.''
Those new customers can be a little less demanding, too. Stokes discreetly rolls her eyes at the celebs who keep her up all night, with their last-minute requests and expectations that her schedule will revolve around their whims. Besides, she said, the whole enterprise began when she was making clothes for her pals in Detroit nearly 40 years ago, so adding new lines for a more modestly financed consumer is not that much of a stretch.
``It started out as a hobby and it just got out of control,'' she said, looking exhausted but composed after four sleepless nights of Grammy preparation. ``I was doing clothes for my classmates, dressing people for parties. I never thought I'd be doing this for so long.''
Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738
(1 -- color) Celebrity designer Linda Stokes displays one of her latest fashions on a mannequin at LSO Design in Woodland Hills.
(2 -- color) no caption (handbag modeled after a cell phone)
(3) Linda Stokes, in her Woodland Hills studio, has designed outfits for Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Alicia Keys.
Joe Binoya/Special to the Daily News
(4 -- color) Brooke Hogan, daughter of wrestler Hulk Hogan, wears one of Linda Stokes' designs to the Grammy Awards on Sunday.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Feb 17, 2005|
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