Spring fashion comes early

With the holiday season rapidly approaching and the pages of our planners full of social engagements for the next two months in rushed cursive, the age-old question arises: “What do I wear?”

Photo courtesy of Keemia

This is probably followed by a frantic flipping through hangers of impeccably hung dresses from years past.

Fear not. Instead of worrying and planning your doomed battle against the 110 Freeway while mapping out trips to Beverly Hills, students can simply stroll over to Trousdale Parkway on Nov. 16 for the Keemia Holiday Sample Sale.

Keemia, a fashion line specializing in cocktail and wedding dresses, was started by designer and USC alumna Keemia Ferasat.

Starting just after graduation at the age of 22, Ferasat managed to attract boutique buyers and socialites alike to her Los Angeles studio with her fusion of Middle Eastern vitality and European sensibility.

But finding a distinct style to develop wasn’t easy for the then-recent graduate.

“It’s been a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, a lot of refining and kind of standing back, taking another approach, getting to the idea of this woman that we are trying to portray,” Ferasat said.

The line debuted in January 2005 on campus at the USC Fashion Show in Town & Gown, and since then it has evolved into an international label.

In March 2005, Ferasat debuted the line’s first collection, “Love on the Loire,” during Los Angles Fashion Week, which helped to establish the type of customer Keemia  is aimed at — one who is “feminine, at ease with herself and chic,” according to Ferasat. More recently, the line has shown collections at the Prêt à Porter Paris show and the Dallas Bridal Show.

Since its debut, Ferasat has expanded the line from Los Angeles to a New York-based label that has been featured in several fashion magazines and websites, including, Glamour, Elle and Lucky.

No longer just a pet passion project shown off at Town & Gown, Ferasat’s efforts have resulted in Keemia being sold at numerous boutiques in 11 states, along with stores in the Cayman Islands and Singapore. In addition, the line is now available for purchase online at several websites.

Despite the brand’s international success, Ferasat said she still holds USC and the Trojan Family in a special place in her heart.

In June, Ferasat participated in the SCtyle: USC’s Sample Sale For Scholarship event. Hosted annually by the USC Alumni Club of West Los Angeles, the event took place at the Fairmont Mirimar Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., and featured several vendors.

The fundraiser raised thousands of dollars for USC’s Scholarship Fund and every donation was matched 2-1 by the university.

Now Ferasat is returning to campus to show off and sell some of Keemia’s Spring 2011 Collection. After seeing the American Ballet Theatre perform The Sleeping Beauty, Ferasat was intrigued and charmed by the elaborate tutus and jeweled bodices of the graceful ballerinas, and worked to design a wearable version of these whimsical costumes.

“I wanted the romance back, but in the confines of what I do. Yes, it’s been a good, long run for the short, frothy cocktail look, and Keemia’s been one of the go-to designers for it. But even girls who did short-short and tight-tight with unblinking dedication are feeling for something a bit softer,” Ferasat said. “In other words, a ripe moment for this designer to shift gears to a more sophisticated style.”

To go along with that new focus, Ferasat made sure that the Spring Collection played with the idea of contrast within a single silhouette. She focused on creating a symbiotic aesthetic relationship between the simplicity of the silk organza and chiffon and the more intricate detailing on the bodices in the line’s new dresses.

Along with using USC as a place to test out her new collection, Ferasat has stayed close to other Trojan alumni, using them to help build connections within the fashion industry.

“We pull dresses from Keemia frequently. The collection is one of the highest in demand,” said Emily McDonald, a USC alumna and founder of the website Stylist LA. “Girls always ask for it.”

With prices normally ranging from $300 to $500, the sample sale on campus is an opportunity for students to find dresses for the upcoming holiday season at a lower price from a member of the Trojan Family.

As the seasons change, so do the fashions, and Ferasat’s line makes for a good way to embrace both transitions.