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Whitley Kros finds it mojo with a sunny, easy collection

October 13, 2008 |  6:20 pm

Whitley L.A. designers Sophia Coloma and Marissa Ribisi, known collectively as Whitley Kros, love big-and-bold prints. And they employ them well: emblazoning quirky, original artwork on oversized T-shirts (Ribisi's husband, Beck, has done some of the neon illustrations) and creating whimsical prints for fabric from the ground up for their easy-fitting silk tunics, dresses and separates.

But in past collections, the young brand has mixed more tailored, solid-colored pieces in with its breezy, boldly patterned looks -- to lackluster effect. But at their spring show Sunday night at Smashbox Studios, the duo seem to have finally found their niche, presenting a collection of easy-fitting printed pieces obviously made for upper-crust fashion girls, but appropriate for almost any woman (there's a "Golden Girls" vibe to some of their unstructured tops that I love). 

With their hair gathered in a lopsided top-knot on their heads and their faces nearly makeup-free, models marched out in louche jumpsuits, rolled baggy cotton pants, little silk floral dresses, and a bevy of cool tops, in prints that included fat colored stripes, abstract flowers, cartoon animals and a lovely pink-and-blue pastel plaid that looks like a washed-out watercolor (the fabric was also used for a sweeping floor-length dress with knotted straps, pictured below). The loosey-goosey looks were tempered by some great chambray denim pieces, including paper-bag waisted shorts and a blazer I could envision throwing over all kinds of dresses and tops (pictured above).Whit15jay 

Paired with most of the tops were pastel-hued cotton bloomers that intentionally fit a few sizes too big (not sure what the deal was with those; are they supposed to be worn outside the love shack?).

Inspirations for the collection, stated the program, included Allen Ginsberg, Morocco, Bob Dylan, African safaris and sunsets in Greece. And it was all in there, culminating in a sunny, optimistic-feeling show -- exactly what the world needs right now.

-- Emili Vesilind

Photos: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times