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The inside line on New York fashion

Checking In: Electric Feathers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ask any young New York stylist what brands they're loving right now, and we guarantee that Electric Feathers will be high on the list.

    Designed by Leana Zuniga, the collection is often composed of easy, breezy dresses with a distinct greco-roman flavor, detectable in everything from the long, drapey silhouettes to the thick rope belts knotted at the waist. We caught up with Zuniga to hear how she came up with the concept for the brand, and why she thinks it has developed such a devoted cult following.

    Where does the name Electric Feathers come from?
    I was relentlessly encouraging my father on the phone to mail me a lithograph of one of his '70s drawings to give to my dear friends Starr, designer of ApieceApart, and Tim Hout. In the bantering conversation, he referred to me as "electric."

    I didn't mind being called electric and thought it was quite accurate, and it inspired me to think of things as kinetic and positive. Humor was something I hoped to connote somehow within the name of the brand, yet not at all coming from a silly, kitschy angle. That night, I was a guest at [Tim Hout's] home, where the moon shone in the window onto an old photograph of Sitting Bull. I was mesmerized, and stared at it all night. [The phrase] "Electric Feathers" just came to my thoughts, it seemed to have just dropped in on me as I had hoped it would ... I realized the following afternoon that this word came about in a conversation regarding a drawing [that depicted] birds on a wire. So there it was full-circle, decision made.

    The line has such a devoted following. What do you think your customers respond to so strongly?
    I believe that once people see and feel the pieces on ... they appreciate the unique silhouettes, and the fact that they are very comfortable. The convertibility is something that allows the wearer to be creative, tying and draping pieces in their own personal way allows them to participate. The 'wearing' is just as important as the 'designing.' The fabrics I use are mostly textured silks and cottons; they feel good against the skin.

    Every collection seems to place a strong emphasis on the dress. Does it have a particular charm for you?
    The Greek and Roman influences are apparent in the dresses. I love the draping, robe-like quality of dresses and the way women from those eras carried them with such elegance.

    What was the best style advice you ever got?
    My father making me aware of color on different skin tones, and how important the effect is on our mood.

    Do you remember the first thing you ever made?
    I honestly don't remember! My grandmother was a seamstress and I grew up very close with her, from the time I can remember I was playing with cloth and her sewing things were all around. In high school, I would lay down and trace my legs to make a pair of pants, and when they were sewn they would turn out much smaller than expected. I swore I'd invented the first pair of leggings.