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San Francisco Offers New Perspective on California Fashion Design

by Marianne Salina
marianne.salina@fashioncareercenter.com
Fashion Career Center Columnist

When we think of California fashion design, sunny beaches, celebrities, and LA labels invariably come to mind. In fact, for a long time, Los Angeles has been the only major city on the West Coast to represent fashion designers who produce labels that are appreciated on an international level. But this is quickly changing.

San Francisco is now emerging as a contender for West Coast fashion design sophistication. SF-based Couture designer Colleen Quen is one of the many artists helping to prove that the City by the Bay does indeed possess a unique glamour worthy of the world's attention.

San Francisco: A History of Metropolitan Fashion Design
While Los Angeles-based labels like Ella Moss and True Religion Jeans are widely appreciated in the fashion industry, it is important to recognize the northern California contributions as well. Fashion conglomerates like Levi Strauss, Bebe, and the Gap, plus designer names such as Jessica McClintock and Eileen West, all find their roots in San Francisco. And many new names are cropping up as well-answering the Bay Area's consumer call for distinct, local fashion flavor.

Learning Couture in Fashion Design School
Colleen Quen is a San Francisco fashion designer who has built quite a following for her dramatic couture gowns--inspired by nature's motifs, Impressionist art, and modern architecture. Her career began when she graduated with an AA in fashion design and merchandising. She later moved to France to study Haute Couture--the authentic, centuries-old French techniques for gown creation. Quen later began her own fashion label in San Francisco, sculpting full ball skirts in duchesse silk satins and floral chiffons for brides and ball-goers alike.

San Francisco's Fashion Week Redirects Spotlight on the Bay
Quen and other celebrated Bay Area designers featured their work in the newly launched San Francisco Fashion Week--an annual production that occurred for the first time in August 2004. It is one of several fashion-focused venues speaking to the volume of designing talent that resides within the city's 49-mile radius.

Not only is San Francisco home to many working fashion artists, it also boasts several top-notch fashion design school programs, offering prospective designers an inspiring city in which to study and to launch their careers.

Sources:
Colleen Quen Couture
Baywatch: San Francisco Designer Roundup

About the Author
Marianne Salina has a B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing and enjoys researching and discussing the myriad of fashion design pursuits in her columns.