Downtown's Hot New Design House

Marta Kappl's combined clothing boutique and designer incubator is giving local fashion a place to g

Couture designer and recent Bay Area transplant Marta Kappl has enjoyed her share of success in the fashion world, tallying up clients such as Keanu Reeves and Carlos Santana over her more than 20-year independent career.

Now, the German native is leading others down the path to success at her new House of Fashion (Downtown, 113 Virginia St.; 206.299.1713,, a combined clothing boutique and collaborative “designer incubator.”

Like a mother hen, Kappl gathers between four and six emerging locals under her wing for a yearlong program, guiding them through the oft murky waters of clothing production. Each designer curates his or her own retail rack, and enjoys use of a spacious in-house workspace and a seamstress.

The split-level shop radiates a youthful joie de vivre as designers sew, share ideas and chat with clients. Kappl’s own Gothic-meets-avant-garde separates line ($700–$2,000 and higher) anchors the space, set in front of a stack of antique steamer trunks. At press time, the roster includes a jeweler, a milliner and this trio of designers and their collections readying to take fashion flight:

Sammamish resident Sharon Donohoe-Gillin’s Ishka (Irish for “water”) line of casual wear flows in lightweight jersey with flattering tucks and draping complementing her simple dresses, jackets and perfect lounging weekend tops ($35–$200).

Seattle magazine’s 2011 Seamless in Seattle “Best Evening Wear” winner Kathy Sabin-Mensah debuts her fall 2012 Kreati-Ka collection this month, which was inspired by the juxtaposition of the dramatic heroines of 1940s films and fierce Mother Nature. Look for the Bellevue designer’s powerful feminine frocks with exquisite draping and sexy, sheer silhouettes ($249–$1,000).

Julie Danforth Design
Set to make her debut at next month’s Metropolitan Fashion Week along with the two designers above, Julie Danforth’s chic A-line dresses go effortlessly from day to night with ladlylike raised collars and slimming waist details.


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