Open Trunk

Kimberlee Iblings and Gwen Stubbs want to dress you up.

Kimberlee Iblings designs and sews her women's-wear line, Deco Modiste, in a boxy Georgetown art studio squeezed in between the Smarty Pants sandwich joint and the popular neighborhood dive 9lb Hammer. She also lives there with her boyfriend, painter Edward Matlock (whose work is showing right now at All City Coffee). Typically, much of the studio space is taken up by the couple's art supplies, Matlock's two motorcycles, and a ridiculously obese cat named Patch. But on Saturday, the studio will be transformed into a showroom where Iblings will hold a trunk show with her friend and fellow designer Gwen Stubbs, whose line is called Lekkerlife.Iblings and Stubbs both attended the New York Fashion Academy in Ballard, and both sell their clothes at Velouria in Ballard and Capitol Hill. Last year around this time, Iblings was feeling some financial pressure. "I couldn't pay my car insurance bill," she says. So she and Stubbs decided to open the studio doors during Artopia and see what happened. Both ended up selling enough pieces to make a profit and pay their bills. This year you can stop by Iblings' place again and check out the Deco Modiste and Lekkerlife summer collections, as well as remnants from last year's winter lines.Iblings draws heavily on vintage influences, particularly the 1930s. "I started off doing costume design for theater...The plays were from the '20s and '30s. I did a lot of research into that era and just became enamored with it," she says. "I like the types of fabrics they were using. They were really soft and drapey, but very well-tailored. They showed off the female form really well." Iblings' part-time job as a glassblower's assistant requires lots of travel, and she sources all her fabrics on the road—her current collection includes prints from Arizona and Minnesota.Deco Modiste for summer includes such throwback pieces as smart, knee-length pleated skirts ($89), a pewter-blue drop-waisted dress ($148), and a wide-legged powder-blue jumpsuit ($159). But Iblings is particularly focusing on the wrap dress right now—it's more popular, she says, because it fits women of all sizes, unlike stretch fabric. The standout piece in her summer collection is a pale yellow wrap dress with tiny pearls, gemstones, and quilted flowers patterned down the front ($189). Iblings does all the beading and embroidery by hand.Stubbs is also a vintage devotee; she says her current collection was influenced by Amelia Earhart. "Her style was practical, but at the same time it had a simple elegance to it," she says. The line includes structured knee-length skirts ($110), plaid sundresses adorned with ruffles ($140), and an orange-and-tan sundress with adjustable straps and an elastic waistband ($105).Stubbs also draws from European style—her mother is from Holland, and "Lekkerlife" means "the good life" in Dutch. "I like the simplicity of European fashion. Women over there will own just a few pieces and kind of wear them out. They look like they're not trying," she says, "even though we all are."

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