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"I know girls are so busy working these days, and they need clothes that are easy to wear," says Lien Do in a sweet, faint accent. "Ladies need to be able to go from day to night, to feel sophisticated and sexy, but not uncomfortable."
It's an idea that Cosmopolitan has preached for eons, but Do lays out exactly what all women are actually looking for: clothing so easy to wear it looks like "the style is coming out of your pores."
Do hopes to help women become that effortlessly chic person with Laila Lupe, pronounced "Lila Lupe," as it would be in Vietnamese. The brand's name is dear to Do's heart, as it comes from her darling daughter, who was in Do's belly during her last year at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. "Her first name is my mother's, and her second name is her dad's mother's," Do says of her 3-year-old. "She is my No. 1 motivation, and anyone knows her as that feisty girl who talks a lot—and that's the kind of girl I design for."
The Laila Lupe line is an amalgam of all the strong and influential women in Do's life. She describes the clothes, which she constructs from pattern to finished product, as "contemporary and edgy," stressing that the key is in the pieces being easy to mix and match with lots of layering; it's a bit Nasty Gal-meets-streetwear with angular dresses, crop tops and graphic tees. But even into the $50-to-$100 range, Laila Lupe is affordable and "well-constructed," the designer says.
Do's dream is to open a consignment store exclusively featuring new and young designers' works. Until then, she is launching an online store and Kickstarter campaign on Feb. 1 with a party and fashion show (Do says it's pretty much "a girl power event") hosted by Konsept art collective in downtown Santa Ana. Head down to the pop-up store next to Playground from 6 to 10 p.m.; try on Laila Lupe wares, listen to music and get your makeup done—for free!