A Cut above the Rest: Elisa Jimenez's Slash-and-Burn Clothes Catch Fire

Article excerpt

Cutting-edge is the best way to describe fashion designer Elisa Jimenez--literally. On Valentine's Day a client, Moran Nadler, was squeezed into Jimenez's three-room apartment-studio to have her wedding dress made. Jimenez cleared away her daughter's toys to make space on the floor and crouched down to do a quick sketch. Then, scissors in hand, she began to drape $30 worth of stretchy white cotton on the future bride. She slashed and sewed up the one-of-a-kind gown with her trademark exposed seams and jagged edges directly on Nadler's body. In just over an hour, Nadler had not only her wedding dress but also a see-through, skin-hugging slip that Jimenez stitched up with transparent fishing wire on the spot to wear under it. "The underslip is my gift to you," the designer said, "for the honeymoon."

Jimenez's own honeymoon is just beginning. Last week her collection--titled "Cosmology in Flesh"--was the talk of the prestigious Designer Debut presentation at New York's Fall 2001 Fashion Week. "Jimenez may have stolen the show with her not-of-this-world clothes," said Fashion Wire Daily. Although her designs have been displayed for years at a New York art gallery--and she's built a cult following that includes Courtney Love, Jennifer Lopez and Cameron Diaz--she says she "felt like a debutante coming out" in front of the hundreds of editors and buyers at her first major runway show. Her timing was perfect. The opulent glamour of last season had morphed into a punk sensibility in the designs of Jimenez's much more famous colleagues last week. Jill Stuart's ruched tops, Daryl K's frayed hems and Helmut Lang's asymmetrical sleeves add up to a fall look that's decidedly deconstructed. Jimenez's wild, sexy, slashy designs--tea-soaked dresses with exposed seams, tops with disconnected sleeves and thermal pants with burned hems--seem to embody this revolutionary spirit taking over the runways.

Her clothes are not for the faint of heart. Neither is the way Jimenez, 36, does business. …