Breakout designer: Leila Shams

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Photographs: Veronica Rafael

Who she is: Although Leila Shams' collection is only one year old, she's far from a fashion newbie. This Parsons dropout spent more than a decade designing clothes for the masses at DKNY Jeans, Express, and Bebe before launching her own line in 2010.

Why we like her: Shams understands that girls want to look sexy and feel comfortable at the same time. Her statement-making pieces made of chiffons and silks are definitely items to be cherished, but they aren't too delicate (meaning you can easily bust a move in them and not worry about a spilling a cocktail or two).

About the collection: Her spring 2011 collection, inspired by freaks of nature, is a sharp departure from her sequined and heavily embellished pieces from last season. She's swapped out shine for strong images of albino alligators and peacocks that are splashed on flowy maxiskirts, tunics and dresses. There were more structured pieces like beaded miniskirts and hammered silk dresses with cutout shoulders. We also went gaga over the buttery soft (and machine-washable) motorcycle jackets that already felt perfectly worn-in.—Aria Hughes

NEXT Alex Casertano

Alex Casertano | Janet Kim of Graey | Suzanne Rae | Whit | Farai Simoyi of Farai
Alexander Berardi | Ann Yee | JoAnn Berman | Sunghee Bang | Leila Shams

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