Designer To Watch: Margarita Saplala

While wandering through Barneys CO-OP last week, I noticed a lot of newish labels. One rack in particular caught my eye, because it was loaded with dr
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While wandering through Barneys CO-OP last week, I noticed a lot of newish labels. One rack in particular caught my eye, because it was loaded with dr
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While wandering through Barneys CO-OP last week, I noticed a lot of newish labels. One rack in particular caught my eye, because it was loaded with dresses done in bright blues and greens; they really stood out in the sea of neutrals.

The label on the gorgeous, simple, drapey silk dresses read "Margarita Saplala." Who, you ask, is that? I’m pretty certain you’ll be hearing more about her soon.

New York-based and a Philippines native, 32-year-old Saplala moved to Chicago when she was two, and has been in the city for about a decade. She attended design school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was originally interested in drawing and painting. After taking an accessories class and loving it, she decided that two dimensions wasn’t enough and switched to fashion design.

She landed an assistant designer job at Halston right out of school, then worked for Heike Jarick. This was followed by stints freelancing at Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Guess. A high-end t-shirt line came next, and she used this collection to experiment with prints. “Then, I started using silk dresses because they give you more leeway to be creative with prints," says Saplala. "It’s like painting--I think of it as making small works of art.” She creates all the prints herself, and her silk pieces are all manufactured in NYC.

She currently offers a small collection of silk dresses, tops, and harem pants. The pieces are pretty seasonless and simple, in a good way, and they give you lots of styling options. She’s hoping to do a presentation during NY Fashion Week this fall. Barneys just picked her up, and you can find her clothes at lots of boutiques throughout the country and in Asia. Take a peek at her Web site. Everything is $300 or less.

As a former Chicagoan myself and a huge fan of easy, casual dresses, I’m rooting for Margarita. Here are some of the pieces from her AW2010 collection: