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New to the TO scene: Orange by Angela Chen

At first glance, it looks like a fashion misnomer.

At first glance, it looks like a fashion misnomer.

Because there’s nothing remotely fruit-coloured in the new Orange by Angela Chen collection. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything but structured, minimalist black and white pieces when Vancouver-based designer Angela Chen debuts her line at next week’s LG Fashion Week.

“The story is, Orange has my name in it: ‘Or,’ and ‘Ange.’ It’s what my family and friends have always called me,” says Chen with a laugh.

It may stem from a childhood nickname, but the wordplay in Orange perfectly captures Chen’s predilection toward mixing mediums. The 26-year-old designs almost exclusively in black and white, and says her clothes are a contrast between “harsh New York sophistication and the soft, organic feel of the West Coast.”

Fans like actresses Chloe Sevigny and Kirsten Dunst have snapped up the talented young designer’s sleek jumpers and tailored, minimalist coats. And although she only graduated from New York’s Parsons New School of Design in 2007, Chen turned heads right out of the gate.

“There was a store in SoHo that expressed interest in selling my thesis collection, and so I thought maybe I should have a brand,” she says. “And slowly other stores started approaching. I was selling at Oak, and then a Brooklyn boutique called Old Hollywood. Now I have a number of stores carrying my line on the West Coast too.”

That momentum resulted in her first label, OrangeNYC. But after six years in New York, Chen decided to move back home. “New York was a place of real growth and maturity, but in Vancouver I’m more relaxed, and not on the edge every day like I was there,” she says.

While her time in New York inspired edgier, bolder lines, the designer says Vancouver’s laid back vibe has crept back into her work.

“For this new collection, I’m going to be showcasing a number of chunky hand-knits which I hand knitted myself,” she says. “The designs have the East Coast feel, but the chunkiness and the structure of the knits has a West Coast feel.”

Chen’s fall/winter 2010 collection debuts next Tuesday at Toronto’s LG Fashion Week.