Best Local Designer (2000)

Vanessa Riley

Stacked unceremoniously under the sale racks at the back of Vanessa Riley's boutique are sheets and sheets of drawings of chic, oh-so-European women in slinky, oh-so-European suits and gowns. Their haphazard nondisplay belies their significance. This is no ordinary designer store where some anonymous underling in a faraway fashion house conceives the ready-to-wear fare. In this boutique, the woman who drew those sketches is standing in her red suede stiletto boots amid her three-dimensional creations: feather-boa-topped jackets, ankle-skimming coats, sharply tailored pinstriped suits and sensual silk spaghetti-strapped dresses. Riley runs about the shop asking in her brassy British accent if she can help you find something. And if you don't find something you like, well, Riley will just whip up something special for you. For an extra $45, any of her designs can be custom-cut to fit you in nearly any fabric you choose. Pinning and tucking and draping and complimenting, Vanessa Riley will make you feel like a supermodel, only shorter. Fabulous, darling.


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