Style snobs may believe that fashion is born on the streets of Paris, Milan and Manhattan. But surprise, surprise ... Long Island has proved to be quite a breeding ground for fashion talent, too. We already have bragging rights for producing two of the world's most famous designers -- Donna Karan (Woodmere) and Michael Kors (Merrick). And as Kors once said, "Long Island is the shortcut to fashion ... people there love fashion and love style." Here's a look at some local talents who not only hail from Long Island, but have also been inspired by it.
The designers: Amanda Schabes and Zara Terez Tisch, both 28, are partners in this company known for vivid photo prints -- gumballs, Fruit Loops, puppies -- turned out on leggings for kids and women. Best friends since girlhood (they met at Woodmere Academy), the women grew up on the South Shore (Schabes in Long Beach, Tisch in Atlantic Beach). "The beach vibe was inspirational," says Schabes. "The South Shore has great energy, people are relaxed and cool, and where we grew up there weren't a ton of judgments about fashion."
At first: Terez founded Zara Terez in 2008 as a luxury leather handbag company; Schabes joined in '09. At a trade show, along with the bags, the duo offered wildly printed polyester makeup cases as a side item, and, says Schabes, "Everybody who came in including Urban Outfitters wanted a ton of them. We switched our business plan." In 2012, the women created a small line of zany patterned children's leggings that was an instant hit.
Now: Their products are sold in more than 250 stores, from boutiques like LG2G in Port Washington to Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and on Amazon.com. Prices go from $48 for kids' leggings to $75 for women's. Celebrity followers include Denise Richards and her kids and Sophia Bush. While "the tween market has taken off," says Terez, the women's category continues to grow. Next move? Athletic wear -- they've already done a collaboration with SoleCycle.
The designer: Mathieu Mirano, 23, was raised in Huntington and graduated from the Portledge School in Locust Valley, where he made more than a few prom dresses for his friends and even a wedding dress for a teacher. He attended the Huntington School of Fine Arts, and went to Parsons School of Design for one year. At 19, he created his first eponymous collection -- nine looks, images of which he sent out to some of the most powerful fashion editors in the industry. They took note, encouraging him to go forward. His inspiration? "Beautiful women here and everywhere."
The hit: When Lady Gaga wears your clothes ... well, your name gets out there. And that she did -- a custom white paper ensemble that included a jacket, bra, panties and gloves (she wore it on "Good Morning America" in August 2013). "Gaga loves my work, and I love Gaga," says Mirano, who has also dressed Elizabeth Banks and Kat Graham.
Mirano has shown at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in the tents five times. His collection for 2014 was his most sophisticated of all, melding luxurious materials and feminine silhouettes with a biker-chick vibe. His clothes, sold in small luxe boutiques in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, are expensive, ranging from $500 for a knit piece to $20,000 for a heavily embroidered gown.
On the move: Everyone from patternmakers to marketers are now under one roof after a recent move to Mirano's new, larger office in the Garment District that looks, he says, "like a space ship; everything is chrome and leather." Goals include going global, and someday, he'd like his own store. But for now, "My dream store to sell is Hirshleifers," says Mirano of the shop at Americana Manhasset.
The designers: Sisters Kim Carosella, 31, and Nicole, 33, grew up in Cold Spring Harbor and attended East Woods School in Oyster Bay. The enchantment with bling started very early on for the artistic Nicole, the company's creative director, who as a colicky baby was soothed by watching the light of her mother's sparkly jewelry. Later, the designer says, "The beauty of Cold Spring Harbor 100 percent inspired what I do." Kim came up with the name Sorellina, which means smaller or younger sister in Italian, because, says, Nicole, "I am shorter and she is younger, and it reflected our Italian heritage and had a romantic feel."
All for love: The first pieces they ever made were engagement and wedding bands for "people we love," says Kim, who handles the business end. Both worked in the jewelry biz after college until they decided to open a design studio in Williamsburg in 2012. The collection of vintage-meets-modern precious and semiprecious baubles ranges from $825 for a basic ring to $26,000 for their Puccini butterfly necklace. Their designs sell at Mayfair Rocks in East Hampton as well as in boutiques around the country.
Tears of joy: In 2013, Florence Welch wore a slew of Sorellina rings to the Grammy Awards with her green Givenchy dress. "I actually cried," says Nicole. In April, People magazine named fashion darling Lupita Nyong'o the most beautiful person of 2014, and in one of the shots she wore Sorellina's 7-carat green tourmaline and diamond ring. "We were pretty much freaking out," says Nicole. "We're doing really well," says Kim. "We doubled our sales in 2013. Now, we want to grow our business and find the best retailers we can to sell our jewelry." First pick? Says Nicole, "I would love to sell Hirshleifers more than anything in the world. And Barneys."