Daniel Franco

Born: June 11, 1971 (27)

Owner

Prototype

As a full-fledged couture designer, Daniel Franco has done individual pieces for the likes of actress Cameron Diaz and Japanese pop star Anri. And last week, the first collection carrying the Daniel Franco name went on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills (all custom made and requiring special fittings).

Franco's distinctive clothes are not like those typically associated with couture designers. Rather than designing billowy ballroom gowns, he has a more offbeat style that includes taffeta jackets, kimono-style skirts and pink leather tops.

Women in L.A. "don't want to look like Cinderella. However, they want to look great," he says.

With the launch of his new line, Franco expects Prototype, the company he founded in 1998, to have revenues of more than $150,000 this year. (Single pieces in Franco's line range in price from $450 to $1,400.)

The 27-year-old Franco, who works out of a studio in his home in the Miracle Mile district, realized he wanted to get into fashion at the age of 17. Having always had an interest in art, he wanted to pursue a career where he could use his talent while making something utilitarian.

His early interest in fashion led him to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in downtown L.A. After graduating at age 19, he went to work for Richard Tyler, the only other major couture designer based in L.A.

While there, Franco graduated from the Otis College of Art and Design. "I didn't take any breaks," he says. "There's no time to take breaks."

Franco then spent a month in Europe, where he was exposed to contemporary art something that had a major impact on his designs. After returning, he worked for a year and a half as a fashion forecaster in New York before going to BCBG, an L.A. fashion design house.

"Our expectation is that he is going to bring a (type of) client who we have established but who we would like to grow someone who is very fashion-forward," said Roger Swift, manager of the couture and designer salon at the Beverly Hills Saks. "We definitely believe in him, and when we saw the line we were very excited to launch it."

Daniel Taub

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