The fashion equation of Barbara Tfank plus Henry Duarte equals statement pieces that go from cocktail party to center stage
by BOOTH MOORE
They are perhaps Los Angeles fashion’s most unlikely twosome: Barbara Tfank, whose entrance-making fit ’n’ flare dresses and women’s coats crafted of exquisite textiles have found favor with the likes of Adele and Michelle Obama; and Henry Duarte, the shaggy-maned rock ’n’ roll tailor whose 1970s-esque custom bell-bottom jeans with signature lace-up detailing have been seen on some of music’s biggest players, including Lenny Kravitz, Steven Tyler and Sheryl Crow.
Now they have come together for Tfank’s label to create a sublime denim collection that includes a gathered-in-the-back capelet in a platinum denim that shines like satin ($770; also available in leather, $2,700), matching denim pants with extreme flares ($385), a sexy, high-waist platinum pencil skirt ($350) and even a bolero ($750–$850) inspired by a fuchsia style worn this spring by the First Lady in London.
“Instead of doing a diffusion line with cheap fabrics I detest, I decided to do glamorous denim in shapes no one has done before,” says Tfank, who launched her eponymous label in the spring of 2001, after working on such films as A Midnight Clear and The Beautician and the Beast. She was also consulting with Prada, where she created the ethereal lavender gown worn by Uma Thurman at the 1995 Academy Awards that made the Italian label a household name.
The duo’s matchmaker was attorney Gay Harwin. “She’s been a great connector, pulling together highly unlikely people,” says Duarte, who did a denim collection with J Brand inspired by David Bowie and whose contemporary label, Duarte Q65, can be had at Minnie T’s in Venice, Fred Segal Trend in Santa Monica and Traffic at the Beverly Center.
The designers pored over swatches before settling on a unique Japanese weave. “We decided not to wash, rinse, bleach or overdye the denim,” says Duarte.
The fabric may be raw, but the result is anything but. The material adapts to Tfank’s couture-esque silhouettes, and the rich liquidity of the metallics has the trademark Duarte slickness. It’s glam meets glam rock. Available under Tfank’s label at Susan in San Francisco (415-922-3685) or by order at Neiman Marcus.