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Deborah Lindquist – A Topanga Treasure:

Getting to Deborah Lindquist’s studio is truly a Topanga experience. Turning off Topanga Canyon Blvd. onto a dirt road, one is almost immediately met by a small, narrow concrete bridge over what is, at certain times of the year, a rushing stream. The bridge is so low, in fact, there are times it is impassible. Hesitatingly, I crossed the bridge, for a moment missing my old, energy-inefficient SUV, and made it up the hill to Deborah’s house. Lindquist has lived in Topanga for 15 years. “I love the country, I’m from a farm in Minnesota. Topanga I love because it’s so full of nature.”

Lindquist, often called the “eco-designer,” recently showed her Fall 2006 collection at Los Angeles’ Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Her designs are so in demand and her show so packed that many with seating assignments – including Courtney Love, Cher and the writer of this column – were denied admission.

Lindquist’s grandmother taught her to sew, and she made her first pattern when she was about five-years-old. Like many little girls, she made clothes for her dolls; unlike many little girls, she parlayed this love into her life’s work.

Vintage, eco-fabrics and recycled materials, including vintage scarves, wedding saris and kimonos, are big components to Lindquist’s work. When she first started out two decades ago, the first belt she made was from a recycled leather jacket. “I’ve always used recycled materials in my work…just because I’m interested in old things. For four or five seasons now I’ve been working with the recycled cashmere, a luxury fabric…people respond to it really well.” The skulls and crossbones in her Fall 2005 collection, which also features peace signs on cashmere sweaters for women as well as dogs, were inspired by Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. All of her sweaters are hand cut.

Lindquist is similar to a chameleon in her designs; one season she will incorporate gentle and feminine elements, the next season everything is edgier. In the “Mermaid collection for spring, girls were ethereal-goddess-like, or feminine. The girls were just arriving on the land from the ocean. Now they’ve been here for a while…that’s why I did the Asian-punk-kind of rock & roll theme [for Fall 2006]. What I have are a couple of different kinds of customers and sometimes they cross over. One is more feminine, one is more rock & roll. I think that people dress both ways. They’re really not totally one way or the other; they’re a combination of both. I’ve still got feminine elements in the collection, it’s just that we edged it up a little bit with the elements and the styling and the attitude of the new wear.”

Out of sari fabrics Lindquist, at the urging of her first publicist, made coasters. “I paid her in coasters for the first year because she liked them so much.” The coasters are one-of-a-kind and still available on her website.

For now, Lindquist is continuing to work “with different kinds of eco-fabrics I can find on the market right now. Pretty things available that maybe weren’t available a few years ago.” Her Fall 2006 collection includes an organic wool coat and lyacel and wool pants. Lindquist is one of a handful of designers showing the world that clothes can be eco-friendly, fun to wear and sexy all at the same time. This writer is going to get to her Spring 2007 show really early, to ensure a seat to see what beautiful, environmentally-conscious creations Deborah Lindquist will be coming up with next.

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