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Fashion Diary: Fifth-grade fashion designer Cecilia Cassini

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
Fashion Diary: Fifth-grade fashion designer Cecilia Cassini - Designers - Fashion - Kids Wear

Her idol is Coco Chanel. She has a taste for vintage fabrics. She has her sights set on the runways of Paris. And she's 10.

While other children were reading "Cinderella" and watching "Dora the Explorer," Cecilia Cassini was polishing her reading skills by flipping through Lucky and Vogue, and preparing a third-grade book report on "The Devil Wears Prada." And now, what started with a birthday gift of a sewing machine has blossomed into a fledgling fashion business with the help of manager Pilar DeMann, the woman who plotted the Kardashians' path from C-level obscurity to branding juggernaut.

Fashion Diary: Fifth-grade fashion designer Cecilia Cassini - Designers - Fashion - Kids Wear

Cecilia, a spunky fifth-grader from Encino, is selling her collection of one-of-a-kind girls' dresses at Lifesize at Fred Segal Santa Monica, where she will have a trunk show Saturday.

Her look is homespun but sassy, with simple dresses constructed from a skirt in one fabric and a bodice — strapless or tank-style — in another. The pieces are quirky cute with sequin, fabric rosette or bow details.

Billed as "the youngest fashion designer in the country," she has already been a guest at New York Fashion Week (trailed by a German TV crew), launched a slick e-commerce site and garnered corporate sponsors and interest from several TV producers. DeMann thinks she is an ideal role model for young girls. Cecilia is a wholesome kid who doesn't want to watch TV and play video games all day. "She just wants to sew dresses and inspire other kids."

Fashion Diary: Fifth-grade fashion designer Cecilia Cassini - Designers - Fashion - Kids Wear

The modeling world has long put a premium on youth, with L.A.'s Gerren Taylor strutting the catwalk for the first time in 2003 at the tender age of 12. But now, the fashion industry is courting pint-size tastemakers too.

Last year, 13-year-old blogger and muse Tavi Gevinson was hired to promote the Rodarte for Target collection, while 17-year-old blogger Jane Aldridge was tapped to design shoes for Urban Outfitters. Russian designer Kira Plastinina was just 15 when her fashion empire expanded to the U.S. (and 16 when her company filed for bankruptcy protection), and Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenco just 19 when he showed his collection of high-end leather dresses on the Paris runway last October. Up next, 13-year-old Lourdes Leon and mom Madonna are designing the Material Girl line debuting at Macy's for the back-to-school season.


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