Icon's leather goods bear famous images such as the Campbell Tomato Soup label on a credit-card case ($75). The line is new to Neiman Marcus.

California dreamin'

Three designers from the Golden
State can make you feel like a
million bucks from head to toe

Neiman Marcus delivered a taste of California style Tuesday as holiday shoppers were treated to a fashion show by David Dart, a lesson in shoemaking by Icon designer Cheryll Tan and an opportunity to talk show biz and glitz with jewelry designer Lizzie Scheck, who gained renown after designing the horseshoe necklace Sarah Jessica Parker made famous on "Sex and the City."

Dart was an instant hit when he made his debut in the islands 10 years ago, developing a loyal following for women's designs influenced by his laid-back SoCal lifestyle uniting the seemingly disparate notions of comfort and panache.

It's possible to err either way. Go too casual, and you might come across as sloppy. Go too dressy and you'll likely be met by rude stares and huffy snorts of "Who does she think she is?" Unless you like the spotlight, that glare can be uncomfortable.

A detail of Gustav Klimt's "Violet" on clogs ($275).

"That's how I am," Dart said. "I mean, today I'm dressed in black, with wool crepe drawstring pants, and walking down the street I feel out of place because I'm not in my normal casual stuff."

One fan, Lois Miller, owns about 10 David Dart pieces and agrees with his assessment of clothing to match the spirit of the islands. "I just love his clothes," she said. "I wear them every chance I get because they're fit for any occasion. They're just wonderful."

Dart's designs allow women to convey a sense of effortless style, even as those attentive to details are apt to pick out such subtle luxuries as embroidered and appliquéd details, and the figure-enhancing bias cut of a skirt.

Dart greeted fans warmly before showing his resort collection of powder blue and white linens, striped silk camp shirts and fluid drawstring pants to match. Pieces run from $78 for a T-shirt paired with trendy yoga-style pants ($98) and jacket ($118), to $198 for an ankle-length shift of gold-toned printed silk organza, lined with tan linen.

Not bad for a kid who got his start at age 20 with a $5,000 loan from his grandmom.

"I had no fear because when you're young you have no fear," he said. "I knew I could do this."

Klimt's "Adele" that graces a double-handle hobo handbag ($350).

In the NM shoe department, Icon's mules, golf shoes and wedges never failed to elicit much smiling and cooing from shoppers.

The shoes, in styles ranging from sexy slides to comfort flats, all bear images by some of the great painters of the past, including Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Edward Hopper and Gustav Klimt. Prices range from about $195 to $275, with other leather goods ranging from $45 to $450.

The company licenses the images, which are fitted onto a template and later fused into leather -- with every piece created by hand -- for an image that is permanent and durable.

Icon made its debut four years ago and now has artists clamoring to have their works made into shoes, purses and other small leather goods, and while the company has worked with some contemporary artists, corporate sales director Cheryll Tan says it's the recognized works that appeal most to customers.

"People in different parts of the country like different things. Like here, where there are so many Japanese tourists, Asia-inspired artwork is popular."

These include woodblock print and calligraphic images.

"In the Midwest they like more of the classical works of art," Tan said. "In the South people like brighter colors."

She describes the Icon customer as a woman with an appreciation for art, who tends to be a world traveler. Many are as likely to collect Icon gear as art.

And what could be more fun than stepping into the Metropolitan, National Art Gallery or Louvre on your own work of art?

At Neiman Marcus, Lei Summer wears a casual, workout-inspired ensemble by David Dart, center, who also created the silk organza and linen shift worn by Helen Berger.

Lizzie Scheck never intended to make a career switch. For one thing, she had what many people would consider a dream job, as an Emmy-nominated casting director for film and television.

But jewelry stardom beckoned when her jewelry-making hobby led to a 2002 ACE "Rising Star" Award nomination from the Accessories Council, for a diamond-studded horseshoe necklace worn by Sarah Jessica Parker on "Sex and the City."

Since launching Lizzie Scheck Jewelry in 2003, she has continued to attract a devoted celebrity clientele due to her numerous trend-setting pieces, worn by the likes of Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears and current "It Girl" Scarlett Johansson.

What is immediately striking about the jewelry is their small size, many measuring about a quarter-inch and ranging from $375 to $1,500. While other jewelers aim to impress with the flash of metal and sparkle of large colored gemstones, Scheck's pieces tend to be delicate, even at their most outrageous, as with a pair of her popular diamond-studded handcuffs.

"I have two different focuses," Scheck said. "I love antique jewelry, so my pieces are antique-inspired, but they're also whimsical, so it's a little old, mixed with a little new.

"And I love small jewelry. It's fun to wear, and is not about being flashy, but accessorizing a little and layering stuff together."

Icon's Cheryll Tan shows artwork that has been transferred to leather before pieces are cut to produce the finished shoe she is holding.

One of her largest pieces is perfect for the holiday season, an inch-and-a-half snowflake that sells for $2,000 and has been featured in W magazine.

There's no end to the subjects waiting to be immortalized in 14K gold and diamonds. Already she's come up with cherries, palm trees, crescent moons reminiscent of Edwardian style, dragonflies and pistols.

As for what's next, she said, "You'll just have to wait and see."

Surf sample sale's up

DJs 00SPOT, G-Spot and Ezekial host the 31st Christmas Surf Sample Sale, a clothing drive for the homeless, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Ben Parker Elementary School in Kaneohe, 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at Kapolei High School, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 20 at Koko Head Elementary School in Hawaii Kai.

They're urging buyers to bring good old clothes to be donated to the River of Life Mission, for $1 off regular admission of $3.

Among the companies participating in the sale are Billabong, Faith Riding Co., MCD, Solitude, Montego, Ezekiel, Rusty, Spy Optics, and many more.

They promise that prices will be set below wholesale, with T-shirts starting at $9, surf trunks from $14, as well as an array of hats, beanies, bikinis, wet suits, jackets and more.

Lizzie Scheck's Edwardian Era-inspired MoonStar pendant ($650) was worn by Scarlett Johansson while filming of Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation." It's in 14K gold set with pave diamonds. The handcuff necklace is 14K gold with a single diamond on each cuff, at $395.

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