I have always loved Barbara Tfank, whose vintage brocade and floral evening wear is so emblematic of L.A.'s artisanal fashion community, the same one that spawned James Galanos, Rodarte, Koi Suwannagate and Juan Carlos Obando. Like so many others, Tfank first made her mark on the red carpet, while working as a design consultant for Prada. She created the ethereal lavender gown worn by Uma Thurman at the 1995 Academy Awards that put the Italian fashion house on the map.
A former costume designer, Tfank launched her own label for spring 2001, with cinematic metallic brocade cocktail coats, capelet jackets and dresses with nipped waists and full skirts, beginning at $1,500. Her clothes have an Old World feel and a specialness that's missing in so much of the designer market. I also appreciate that they are for grown-up women of all ages and sizes. (A few of her dresses even, gasp!, have sleeves.) Adele wore a custom black gown by Tfank for the Grammys in February.
Tfank's line has been available at Susan in San Francisco, Barneys New York in New York and Chicago, but not in her hometown. Until now. Her spring collection has just landed at Lily et Cie in Beverly Hills, where I imagine it hangs quite nicely next to the 1950s Balmain and Dior haute couture.
Barbara Tfank at Lily et Cie, 9044 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, (310) 724-5757.
Photos of Tfank's designs available at Lily et Cie. Credit: Kevin Sturman