A trio of menswear designers

It's All About Style

April 02, 2006|By ERICKA BLOUNT DANOIS | ERICKA BLOUNT DANOIS,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Baltimore designers have an eye for fashion -- including what's hot and what's not for men's fashion in Charm City. Here, a few weigh in with their projections of what men can expect to wear this spring.

DERMAINE JOHNSON, 33

For spring, Johnson will be introducing a high-end premium denim line and a men's Madison Walker logo for polo shirts, T-shirts and pants.

"My men's line consists of classics with a twist," says Johnson (left), who has been designing for the past 10 years and divides his time among Baltimore, New York and occasionally London.

Under the label Madison Walker, Johnson designs clothes, hats and other accessories, including bracelets and belts.

Johnson, who grew up in Northeast Baltimore, says that shoe design is really his passion and he has plans to launch into shoe design soon. He is also learning how to crochet and knit.

"I want to be a one-stop shop, a force to be reckoned with," he says.

He manages a store in Nouveau Contemporary Goods, 514 E. Belvedere Ave., and his Madison Walker line can be found at the Doll House Boutique, 525 N. Charles St., and Steph-N-Ty, 10 W. Biddle St.

His clientele includes: R&B sensation Raheem DeVaughn of Washington.

What's hot for men's spring fashions: "Men aren't afraid to wear bright colors this year. You will see a lot of bright colors that will range from corals to blues to pinks to pastels. Also, a lot of wrinkle-free linen, comfortable high-tech fibers -- material that keeps the body cool," Johnson says.

What's not hot: Trendy pieces, long white Ts, studded belts, cut-out sandals. The punk look is out.

EARLE BANNISTER, 38

"I believe in the peacock syndrome -- where the males are the colorful ones that capture all the attention to woo the females," Bannister says.

With that design philosophy, he has worked primarily as a menswear designer, learning how to sew on his younger sister's sewing machine. For the first seven years of his career he focused primarily on men's clothes, though he says they are more challenging to make. Since then he has expanded to include women's styles for his line, E. Bannister Couture.

His specialty is special occasion clothing -- for weddings and proms.

His line of clothing can be found at his store, Studio 2457, at 2457 Maryland Ave.

What's hot for spring: "The hot color this season for men will be orange. I am creating a pullover shirt that has sort of a wrinkled texture to it. This year I am going to do them in colors, like lavender, scarlet red, electric blue," Bannister says.

What's not hot: "The urban look is going out -- like Timbs and baggy jeans," he says. "Glamour is coming back. A more tailored look is in this spring."

SEAN "SUGAR BEAR" O'NEAL, 29

O'Neal designs by demand -- what his customers want is what he will design. Right now he is working on a line of blazers.

"I can take any picture and put it on the back of a blazer and hand-paint it," he says. "Che Guevara. Marvin Gaye. I free-hand everything."

O'Neal says he can redo the lining of a blazer customers bring in to give it a different feel. Many of his customers want outrageous colors. He has designed green blazers with purple linings and red blazers with pink linings. You can find some of his designs in Makkah, at 25th and Charles streets, but most are sold by word of mouth.

Star One Boutique, at Cathedral and Read streets, is also picking up his line.

What's hot for spring: Linen capri pants and polo shirts.

What's not hot: "All oversized clothes will be out," O'Neal says. "A lot of men are switching gears and they want to look presentable -- even dressed down."

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