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LA's Carmella is Inspired by Screen Sirens and French Girls

All images via Carmella
All images via Carmella

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As much as digging through our city's many throwback treasure troves brings us endless joy, we also don't mind kicking up our thrifted Ferragamo heels and channeling Old Hollywood with fresh-off-the-rack retro frocks. That's the story behind vintage-inspired brand Carmella, a new LA label of sexy separates designed by former model Katheryn Rice.

Created from luxe feminine fabrics like silk chiffon, crepe de chine and French lace, the recently-launched line ($150 to $700) toasts both modern style muses and silver screen sirens of the '30s and '40s with lingerie-like tops, expertly draped day-to-night dresses, playfully romantic rompers and much more. No wonder Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Alessandra Ambrosio and Mad Men star Jessica Paré are already fans. We had a chat with designer Rice to find out more about her covetable Ginger Rogers-inspired collection, her modern-day muses and where she shops and plays in LA.

What inspired you to make the move from modeling to designing?
"It was really just a natural transition. I started making clothes that I really wanted to wear and took everything I'd learned from modeling and put that into my designs. Over the years, I'd paid close attention to detail, from the way a garment actually made me feel, to the way a type of fabric would feel on the skin and how it fell along the body."

Who or what inspires your designs?
"One thing I've always loved to do is collect photographs of women from different eras—I build a life and story around this girl and what she loves to wear and how it makes her feel; from there I start to sketch and make wearable styles."

Who are your modern day muses?
"So many! Right now I'm really loving [French models/actresses] Léa Seydoux [and] Eva Green and [Lithuanian model] Edita Vilkeviciute."

Coachella is coming up! Which of your pieces would you wear to the desert, and how would you style it?
"I'm planning to wear my Amelia romper with black booties, my Jacquie Aiche body chain and layering necklaces and a red lip. I also love my Luisa dress for the desert; it's a little silk wrap dress with a double layered skirt which is so fun to dance around in. Wear it with delicate strappy flat sandals, Jacquie Aiche jewels, a red lip and ponytail."

Where are your favorite spots to play and shop in LA?
"I've mostly been playing with my 16-month-old baby boy Atticus! But when I can get out, I love shopping boutiques on Abbott Kinney—I can get lost for hours on that street in the adorable kids shops, the women's boutiques and furniture shops. My design studio is Downtown on 7th & Grand and I do love working in the city. My favorite lunch spots are Bottega Louie, Mo Chica and Coco Laurent. I also love the Soho House—brunch, lunch or dinner, I love that they have healthy menu options and I can walk there from my house. Such a stunning view of this city I now call my home and love so much!"

Got any exciting projects or collabs coming up that we should know about?
"Just working on expanding the line! Right now I'm working on spring/summer 2015 with my team. I really want these pieces to carry my girl seamlessly from day to night, and I'm also really excited to add motherhood into the mix with my designs. I'm always looking for ways to highlight and draw attention to a woman's body in a subtle way. I'm planning to make this collection feel intimate, vulnerable, powerful. Womanly!"

In love with it all? Carmella is currently stocked at boutiques like Satine and Curve and online at Shopbop and the brand's own e-shop.
· Carmella [Official Site]