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Charlotte Tarantola: Designing Things That Make Her Smile:

Charlotte Tarantola is celebrating her 10th year as president and head designer of Charlotte Tarantola, the company launched in her Santa Monica living room after creating a series of innovative t-shirts. With annual sales in excess of $11 million, the success of her business is the culmination of a dream that began when she was about eight-years-old. As a youngster, she spent a lot of time painting and sewing, encouraged by both her grandmothers who were accomplished seamstresses and interested in hand embroidery. Her paternal grandmother was a professional tailor and sample maker in New York and her mom, though not a professional, painted and sewed. She took the young Charlotte to Germany to learn embroidery, stitchery and needlepoint techniques. “I guess you could say I inherited the apparel business gene.” Living in Eugene, Oregon, the budding young designer experimented with her artistic talents and by the time she was in junior high, knew she would become a designer. In high school and college, Tarantola was focused on art, sewing classes and worked in the costume shop at the University of Oregon. “Oregon was a hard place to consider fashionable,” so inspired by the designs of Calvin Klein, Norma Kamali, Donna Karan and dreams of launching her own line, she headed to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. “Once I got there, I took full advantage of living in New York. I was 100 percent immersed in that creative culture – working late at night, going to museums and exploring the amazing upscale stores.” She graduated with honors, more determined than ever to fulfill her dream. Eventually, Tarantola came out to the West Coast for a job and finally decided to start her own business. Her designs caught the attention of Fred Segal, who immediately sold out of her vintage-inspired tees. This opportunity helped Charlotte realize her dream, and in 1996, she launched her namesake collection with her sister/ partner/friend Christina on board in charge of finance and operations. Based in Los Angeles, with showrooms in Dallas and New York, the company has built a loyal national and international customer base and offers a wide selection of romantic, high quality contemporary women’s knitwear including tees, sweaters, dresses and skirts, with rhinestones, printing, embroidery and beading embellishments. Says Tarantola, “The product is truly unique because they are honestly inspired. We try very hard to bring something new to the consumer by blending interesting embellishment techniques with modern silhouettes. For example, I recently found a turn-of-the-century pillow in Belgium which we used for technique in embellishing a sweater. We also cast a vintage necklace to make part of the trim on a t-shirt.” Tarantola is married and lives in Marina del Rey. She likes to work at home surrounded by her books and magazines. “With inspiration from the past, we have to constantly explore important new trends and find a way of making the past relevant to the present.” This energetic woman has devoted herself to becoming a success in the extremely competitive garment industry and appears to have done so without losing her sense of humor or lust for fun. As for Tarantola’s goal for the women who wear her clothes, “I hope they feel the perfect blend of comfort and polish. I like the idea of being dressed, but also relaxed and comfortable. We call it casual style with ultimate luxury.” Certainly those words are music to the ears of Santa Monica’s many fashion-loving citizens. For more information, go to www.charlottetarantola.com.

Rumor: A sheer keyhole hoodie with a Swarovski crystal button. Armholes are fully fashioned with pointelle detail and reverse coverstitch. Wide rib cuffs.

Foyer: Pointelle cardigan with an ikat style floral print translated from a vintage textile from 1906. Natural shell with nickel pin buttons.

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