The LA masterminds behind two new direct-to-consumer luxury labels prove that local and global aren't mutually exclusive.
One of Lauren Bucquet’s latest designs, the Labucq Jil boot in black patent lamb, $325
There’s not a style-savvy woman in LA who’s not aware, at least subconsciously, of Lauren Bucquet’s contribution to fashion: There’s Rag & Bone’s Newbury boot (Rachel Bilson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Cameron Diaz are fans), among many others. As director of footwear and accessories for the brand for a decade, she defined trends. Now, as a newly minted Angeleno, she’s the founder and creative director of Labucq, an approachable direct-to-consumer debut designed in LA and produced by family-run factories in Tuscany, Italy. (Former Rag & Bone chief executive Marcus Wainwright is an angel investor.) The move west was for improved quality of life. “Living in LA has allowed me to step back from the fashion world and see where there was truly a need to start this kind of business,” says Bucquet, who’s obsessive about the architecture of footwear, a huge responsibility, she believes, since the balance of aesthetics and ergonomics shapes a person’s day. She calls the clientele for her wavy red suede Sophia heels and black patent lace-up Jil booties (the attitude is in the slightly squared toe and flared heel) “smart, discerning individuals.” Basically, Labucq is for women seeking substance, not noise. Says Bucquet, “A lot of brands have forgotten about women who just want to buy something beautifully made that can stand the test of time.”
The oddly groundbreaking idea of “style over substance” is behind Keehn Deutch as well. President and Design Director Fruzsina Keehn’s background—the Upper East Side New Yorker studied architecture, art history, interior design and fashion in London before working for Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and then starting a jewelry line in Geneva—informs the concept for her and partner Alison Deutch’s fresh line of elegant but hardly stuffy made-in-America daywear, currently available on The SIL. “I have always felt that I was born at the wrong time,” says Keehn. “I am much better suited visually toward late ‘50s and ‘60s; I really love women to look like women—well-dressed and chicly but comfortably put together.” Now in its second collection, Keehn Deutch is a product of location. “It became clear as a bell once I moved to LA,” says the designer, who met Deutch then. “We were both tortured by casual ripped jeans, high heels and T-shirts.” Their vision, instead, channels the likes of C.Z. Guest, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Dresses, pants and blouses are all custom made. “The genius behind it—one of many,” says Keehn, “is that one is able to choose their fabric and length, and can even use two different pattern sizes for our dresses (that is, a size 2 bottom and size 4 top).” This old-world tailoring done in simple, quality materials comes at a reasonable price—and, like menswear, is not discontinued each season. It’s an innovative approach that’s neither out-of-reach aspirational nor juvenile and mass. Says Keehn, “What LA has inspired in [Alison] and me is a need for real clothes that are perhaps less precious... but no less well-designed.”