The California fashion scene isn’t huge, so it makes sense that one of the sunshine state’s more promising new labels has its roots in Rodarte, the undisputed granddaddy of LA-based fashion. Sarah McLellan and Kristina Ortega met as interns to the Mulleavey sisters, and with no formal training under their belts, started McTega in 2006. The line of resin jewelry quickly drew a following with its attention grabbing pieces: knuckle-sized rings with stalactite-like drops, candy-colored necklaces formed as giant rock crystals, and freeform bangles in a mesmerizing transparent rainbow palette. A piece in WWD led to an order from Barneys, but then the recession hit and, like most struggling lines, McTega lost their momentum.
Luckily for us, the girls kept playing and perfecting their resin-melting methods in the chem lab they built in Monterrey Park, CA. At Wednesday’s presentation, held at a small gallery on the Bowery, this season’s pieces intermingled with moss and coral, inside glass terrariums that were frustratingly impermeable to an iPhone camera’s flash but admittedly cool. This collection introduces the subtle use of copper, which adds weight to their signature resin while maintaining the irresistible lightness of bangles and knuckle dusters that speak to the inner child in us all by resembling nothing more than sticks of rock crystal candy (which the designers cleverly used as stirrers in their jewel-themed drinks).
Clothing was also thrown into the mix: simple separates in a softer palette than the accessories, with standouts including a Miu Miu-esque twisted silk shift in sherbet hues, and a pair of cropped black pants with corduroy panels running down the legs. If the growing crowd on the otherwise quiet street was any indication, Sarah and Kristina should get back to their chem lab quick—the recession is over, at least for McTega.
**All photos by Sean Kilgore-Han.