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Judy Foreman

Judy Foreman: Allora by Laura Welcomes Fashion King of Cool Peter Cohen

At invitation-only, after-hours gathering of fans, designer debuts new line while doling out style tips and suggestions

Fashion designer Peter Cohen with, from left, T.J. Dinning, Allora by Laura owner Laura Dinning, jeweler Kai Linz and the store’s sales team. Click to view larger
Fashion designer Peter Cohen with, from left, T.J. Dinning, Allora by Laura owner Laura Dinning, jeweler Kai Linz and the store’s sales team. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo via iPhone)

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Music’s mightiest usually appear at the Santa Barbara Bowl when they’re in town, but a different kind of rock star recently delighted devoted fans at Allora by Laura in Montecito, where fashion’s king of cool, Peter Cohen, was providing a sneak peek at his fall 2015 line.

Headed into her second anniversary, Allora by Laura (Laura Dinning, that is) is located at 1269 Coast Village Road, one of the hottest sections of the street, and home to Lucky’s, Los ArroyosMontecito Café, Trattoria Mollie, Jeannine’s and the new kid on the block, The Honor Bar.

Dinning and the next generation, her daughter, T.J., cater to women who love fashion luxury but are not hung up on “it” labels. The creative director and buyer for Antoinette for more than 20 years, Dinning opened her own shop featuring hand-picked clothes to accessories (shoes, bags, belts) and jewelry.

The mother-daughter duo makes their choices on buying trips at Madison Avenue and Europe market weeks, where Dinning has forged long-term relationships with the fabric houses and designers such as Cohen.

A South African transplant to Los Angeles, Cohen is cool all right, but also charming and personable, as regular a guy as they come and a juggernaut in the fashion world.

The Peter Cohen label is known for minimalistic silhouettes (shapes in fashion speak), mostly solids, relaxed in its construction, sexy, luxurious and comfortable in its fit. According to the designer, the fabrications “are meant to be socially mobile, and comfortable in many environments and cover lots of ground.”

Thursday’s invitation-only mini fashion show was set up after store hours “as is it would be at a professional fashion week with Anna Wintour and her Vogue staff in the audience.”

Folders were distributed with information about the styles being modeled for buyers. Doing what he loves best, Cohen explained his vision for the new line.

Elisa Lipton modeled each garment, from dresses to sleeveless vests, pants and shirts, and leather jackets. A plethora of newly engineered fabrics from Germany, Japan and Italy wowed the late-afternoon crowd, which enjoyed C’est Cheese eatables, champagne and Perrier.

The story behind the clothes is what always interests me most. I loved hearing how the clothes, which don’t jump off the hanger, “grab you and come to life when on the body.”

Dressed in a snug-fitting charcoal cotton blazer, jeans, a black polo and tennis shoes, Cohen explained how to keep your options open and how to let your clothes (his or others) connect you.

“Clothing has a language, a way of communicating,” he said, adding that he wants some open ended-ness, and where lighting and mystery can set the scene for an entrance with a wow or an entrance with an ahh!

Paired with the garments was the jewelry of Kai Linz, who divides her time between Santa Barbara and the East Coast. Her earrings, bracelets, rings and other refined-yet-statement impact jewelry was really the perfect accompaniment to Cohen’s collection.

The trunk show ended as the designer and boutique owner like it best, with the women (yes, me, too) trying on the clothes, and Cohen adjusting a belt or outfit and admiring the fit and reaction to the styles of his local fan base. Interacting with customers is a favorite pastime for both Dinning and Cohen. It’s part of the synergy that has been part of his collection and their friendship for years and years. 

Allora by Laura is located at 1269 Coast Village Road. Click here for more information, or call 805.563.2425.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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