Breakout designer: Whit

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Photographs: Zenith Richards

Who she is: Whitney Pozgay may be the niece of beloved designer Kate Spade, but nowadays, she’s a fashion force in her own right. “She’s been amazing to go to for advice,” says Pozgay of her industry-savvy aunt. “Our aesthetics are similar, but ultimately we’re doing different things and we’ll stand on our own two feet.” A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Pozgay studied costume design at the University of Texas before working as a junior designer at Kate Spade. Beginning in 2007, she took a job as a womenswear designer for Steven Alan, where she helped expand the line to include outerwear, knits and accessories. Pozgay’s own ready-to-wear line, Whit (whit-ny.com), made its debut for the Fall 2010 season, and is now sold at Barneys, Steven Alan, Bird and more than 30 other stores ($95--$475).

Why we like her: Pozgay has an intrinsic sense of who her audience is—young go-getters who appreciate classics but crave adaptability—perhaps because she’s part of it. Though her whimsical Spring 2011 collection speaks to a “Tribal Beach” theme, it leaves ample room for personal interpretation. “Depending on your style, you can wear it girly or more tomboy,” says Pozgay, whose pieces can go from the office to the yacht club, and anywhere in between.

About the collection: Pozgay drew inspiration from childhood summers spent on the sun-baked shores of Del Mar, California, taking style cues from both modern surfer girls and ’60s-era ladies who lunch. The collection combines souped-up classics (an A-line sheath dress in a brown and white “pebble beach” print) with contemporary separates (a blue and black diagonally-draped miniskirt paired with a voluminous white poplin blouson). Wild cards like the pink and orange sail suit (a blazer with three-quarter-length sleeves and matching short shorts) channel retro glamour while defying conventional proportions, and our jaws dropped when Pozgay managed to make a pair of slim navy overalls rolled to just below the knee look downright chic. Her flowing, floor-length beach dress would make a dreamy wedding gown for a bohemian bride, proving just how far these breezy-but-sophisticated looks can go.—Tory Hoen

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