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Art Wears: Designer Trina Turk on Southern California Fashion and Design

Trina Turk

In the land known for Hollywood celebrity antics and where fashion trends are determined by what stars wear, native California designer Trina Turk emerges with a fresh approach to fashion and a nod to bygone eras.  Ms. Turk is no high fashion hypocrite-her personal style epitomizes the relaxed yet glamorous style that Los Angeles put on the fashion map.

Her love of the past, the desire for chic, yet comfortable clothing, and an artist’s flair for color and pattern are evident in her designs. “I mostly design for myself. Our customer is someone who is interested in fashion, but is not a fashion victim.  A customer that wears our prints is definitely not a shy person or wall flower,” says Turk.  Trina’s inspiration comes from modern design in architecture, sculpture, Japanese gardens, organic shapes and nature.  Her home, personal style and ultimately, her designs, reflect the fervor she has for an aesthetic movement that transformed functional living into stylish living.

LA Style

Los Angeles is known for its laid back attitude towards dressing. Jeans are as much high fashion as red carpet gowns.  Turk believes the casualization of dressing is a trend that started in Southern California, and dates as far back as the 1930s when movie stars were photographed in their leisure wear and sport ensembles, relaxing at home in their backyards, beside kidney shaped pools, or enjoying the coveted L.A. weather at the beach. Headquartered in Alhambra, Trina Turk is proud to call herself a Californian designer.

“I think Los Angeles is probably one of the most influential cities, style wise, in the world.  Although New York is the fashion capital of the United States, you can argue that trends that really affect the way people dress have always come from California.  The idea of mixing high and low, things that are for sport with dressier things, and vintage with new is really a Southern California idea.  It’s an idea that has become important worldwide.  I think the rest of the world sometimes doesn’t want
to give Southern California credit, but the trends are coming from here.  Even surf culture or casual Friday, which comes from Silicon Valley when the high tech [employees] couldn’t stand to wear a tie anymore. These are things that started in California,” explains Trina.

Trina Turk’s Los Angeles boutique is a reflection of the eclectic style and casual chic look of Angelenos. Located on 3rd Street between Fairfax and Crescent Heights, the store’s interior is as much a showstopper as her designs. Luxurious details such as nude moiré walls, pink tile, plaster chandeliers, and glass door pulls mingle with modern glass spheres hanging from the ceiling like bubbles.  The atmosphere harkens back to a time of salon shopping.  And with such vintage appeal in décor, it makes perfect sense that the newest pieces in the Trina Turk collection are accompanied by vintage frocks, hand selected from Trina’s vintage archive, which are also for sale.

Design and Architecture

Eclipse Jacquard: Love short
with spring ponte minx jacket

Trina’s growing interest in interior design and architecture rivals her love of fashion.  “I find myself opening my interior design magazines before fashion magazines.  That never used to happen.”

As a child growing up in San Jose, Trina has fond memories of her mid century home which was inspired by the Eichler case study house featuring walls of glass, two sided fireplaces, and sunken living room.

“There isn’t a huge difference in fashion design and interior design.  It’s all color, texture, textile, and proportion.  There’s definitely a lot of crossover there.  That’s why I have had so much fun working on our retail stores.  It’s been an outlet for working on interior design projects,” she explains. Turk is already spreading her wings into her second life in design with the April 2008 opening of her home décor and accessories boutique in Palm Springs, Trina Turk Residential.  The store will offer a wide selection of pillows in traditionally vivid Turk patterns, soft goods, and pottery by designers Adam Silverman of Atwater Pottery’s and Josh Herman of Josh Herman Ceramics.  The modern aesthetic of these talented designers will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome in the perpetual mid-century town of Palm Springs.

Trina Turk and husband, partner, and textile director, Jonathan Skow are preparing for the Spring 2009 launch of her fabrics collection to be distributed by F. Schumacher & Co. Home Interiors. The collection will include fabrics that can be used indoors as well as outdoors.  The fabrics will be water, sun and stain resistant.  The idea came about when Trina and Jonathan were looking for fabrics for their outdoor-poolside sitting area.  They decided to create a cotton blend fabric rather than canvas, in colors and patterns that appealed to the ultra cool couple.

Like an elegant yet comfortable silk jersey dress, Trina has enveloped her body of work in swirls of creativity, passion, design and casual glamour that is quintessentially L.A.

Tide Pool
Silk Jersey

Spring Collection

Trina Turk’s Spring 08 collection is a mid-century modern kaleidoscope of color and patterns. Inspired by the idea of outer space and sky, the collection includes silk jersey dresses and separates that explode with color and movement. Trina combines bold colors like yellow and black, pairing them with swirls and abstract shapes of cobalt, aqua and salmon.

Undulating patterns mimicking the celestial waves of the Milky Way get a punch of pink, yellow, and aqua. The Big Bang print features abstract, organic color fields, in shades of blue and yellow. The Eclipse jacquard print short is paired with a double knit, pont silk jacket-a perfect spring to summer cover up.

Words: Sandra Mendoza-Daly

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