Drawing a bead on design


July 16, 2000|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,Sun Staff

Manish Singh is a study in contradictions. The designer's delicately hand-beaded evening dresses and separates look like the creations of an experienced, senior designer. Manish (pronounced Mneesh) is 27, self-taught and has been designing women's clothing only since 1996.

The designer (right), who prefers to be known by only his first name, is Indian. He named his company, Victor Rossi, after an Italian. "I don't think the world is ready for Manish," he explains. "Naming the company after an Italian makes it nondenominational."

Singh came to Baltimore from India with his family at the age of 4. He graduated from McDonogh School in 1990 and earned a business degree from Michigan State University in 1994.

The designer was more interested in sports than fashion design until he took a year off during college and traveled in Europe and Asia. He started designing embroidered cushion covers and gloves. Then, remembering the fashion sketches his mother used to create, he started experimenting with designing dresses. Today he works out of his Stevenson home with his mother and younger brother and e-mails his designs to New Delhi, where his garments are sewn. His clothing is available in boutiques across the country.

The 600 dresses and tops in his collection are sexy and sophisticated, simple and extravagant. "I have something for everyone," he says. All of Singh's designs are hand-beaded.

Singh says he gets his inspiration from such designers as Randolph Duke and Bob Mackie and hopes to be as famous as they are one day.

"Getting your foot in the door is the toughest part," he says.

His Web site, www.victorrossi.com, which will be operational sometime this month, will offer company information as well as fashion forecasts and tips.

Victor Rossi designs cost $100 to $150 for a beaded top, $150 to $300 for a dress. They are available at Ransome's Boutique in Towson and Vasarri in Pikesville.

Sandals take a step forward

Needed: Comfortable, sophisticated, waterproof sandals that wear like iron.

The winner: Sensi PVC sandals. Perforated footbed whisks moisture away at the pool; bumped footbed provides a soothing massage in every step. Actress Sarah Jessica Parker wears them with a sexy skirt and top at night. The sandals come in a variety of styles and colors for men and women. Sensi sandals cost $25 to $30.

Call 800-537-5238 for more information. -- M.B.

Web heads

You need a hat. Maybe it's for bowling or baseball, baking in the kitchen or on the beach, riding a bike or a mechanical bull -- that's not really important. eHats.com sells them all.

eHats is a Web retailer that sells hundreds of thousands of hats for men, women and children ranging from the basic baseball cap to straw boaters and visors to hats that resemble a chicken laying an egg on the wearer's head. Brands include Kangol, Columbia and Stetson.

Shoppers can buy off the rack or order custom headwear. The site is also filled with fashion tips and a style guide from celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch that provides strategies on selecting a hat based on one's features.

Some hats (pictured) we liked included:

* Old Style Orioles Hat, $14.99. It's so goofy, it's cool.

* Indian Ribbon Bucket, $39.99. A sophisticated twist for the hat of the moment. -- M.B.

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