The old Hollywood adage is that when you are up, you're way up, and when you are down, you're way down.


That's certainly true for Tarrant Apparel Group. During a ballyhooed fling with celebrity songstresses Beyonce Knowles and Jessica Simpson, the L.A.-based company's clothes landed on entertainment television shows and in magazines and were even profiled in the Wall Street Journal.


But last month, the company's foray into Hollywood turned sour. It terminated a license agreement to make fashions under the brand House of Dereon by Tina Knowles (Beyonce's mother). And a fracas with Simpson's licensor resulted in Tarrant's admission that it won't sell Simpson-branded apparel in the first quarter and could possibly never again sell the "Dukes of Hazzard" starlet's clothes.


After failing to pile up show business hits, Barry Aved, the company's president and chief executive, exited the stage with his resignation last month. Aved, who is expected to move to New York, started his second stint at Tarrant in 2003.


Gerard Guez, the company's chairman and founder, has assumed the chief executive role on an interim basis. He'll forego Tinseltown deals for now, and concentrate instead on Tarrant's American Rag Cie brand with Macy's stores.


Staying out of the spotlight seems like a good move for Tarrant. Despite its recent Hollywood blowups, the company ended on a high note in the fourth quarter: Clothes it produces under private labels and brands came out ahead.


Due to strength in the private apparel business, Tarrant reported net income increased to $9.9 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $4.1 million in the year-ago period. Fourth-quarter revenues were $49.7 million, compared to $36.7 million in the like year-earlier quarter.


Doll Duds
'Tween girls' attachment to fast-selling Bratz dolls is so strong that they even want to dress like their plump-lipped plastic pals.


And Resilience LLC, an offshoot of L.A.-based Eco Textiles Group Inc., is helping them do it. Starting this summer, clothes developed by Resilience under the Bratz Couture label are set to sell for $24 to $98 in high-end department and specialty stores.


"I had seen my nieces in L.A. and New York, who don't necessarily shop for clothes at Wal-Mart or Target, but they all love Bratz," said Raphael Javaheri, chief executive of Eco Textiles. "Our products are more upscale. We get the inspiration from Abercrombie & Fitch or maybe Bebe Sport, and trends in the market."


In its first year, Javaheri estimates Bratz Couture can rack up $10 million in wholesale revenues. After all, he said that Bratz customers are hungry for their dolls' wares and cited comments to MGA Entertainment Inc., the maker of Bratz, and consumer research indicating the girls' delight at getting Bratz looks.


With Bratz Couture on the market, girls will be able to get outfits with rhinestones or gold splashes to match doll clothes with similar accents. To give the clothes sophistication, Javaheri said Resilience is avoiding character art that's common on T-shirts and novelty items.


The licensing deal to make Bratz Couture was finalized last year and is a first for Resilience, although Javaheri hopes to grow that end of the business. Under intense foreign competition, he said his company is moving away from making private label apparel for department stores.


Jean Jockeying
The founding designers of Habitual, one of a number of brands duking it out in the premium jean market, have left Los Angeles-based parent company Pacific Marketing Works Inc.


Pacific Marketing is searching for designers to replace husband-and-wife team Michael and Nicole Colovos, whose last Habitual collection is for the fall-winter season this year. Women's Wear Daily first reported the departure of the pair.


"Pacific Marketing Works will continue to foster the ongoing evolution of Habitual into a global lifestyle brand, expanding the current product offerings, increasing brand awareness, and broadening the customer base," the company said in a statement.


Habitual may have additional competition. The Colovos' could start another apparel brand, but they could not be reached for comment on their plans. The duo started Habitual in 2001 and gave the denim brand its characteristic Maltese cross back-pocket design.


Virtual Video
Patty Handschiegel, the Los Angeles fashion fan behind virtual wardrobe photo album StyleDiary.net, is going live on tape.


Starting this week, the Web site will contain video clips of fashion happenings. Upcoming footage shows Handschiegel putting together clothes for a night at the W hotel.


In the future, visitors to the Web site will see designer Louis Verdad's fashion show at L.A. Fashion Week last month. But Handschiegel added StyleDiary.net's weekly video clips wouldn't be as polished as those on television or at other Web sites. They'll have the grassroots feel common on StyleDiary.net.


"A lot of shows that are out there are fun and cool and neat to watch, but I don't think they really capture the lifestyle of people who love fashion," she said. "Everybody that I know in this market works in fashion. I have a lot of resources."


StyleDiary.net started a year and a half ago, and the site has been up in its current iteration since May of last year. Handschiegel said StyleDiary.net is profitable, but the margin is small. She's investigating ways to increase advertising and other revenue-generating possibilities, including perhaps allowing people to sell used items on the Web site.


*Staff reporter Rachel Brown can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 224, or at rbrown@labusinessjournal.com .

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