the issue > Style > March 9, 2018
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Eye Candy

Stacey Bendet has built an empire one flirty, feminine look at a time. And it all began with a quest for the perfect pair of pants.

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In 2002, Bendet was a recent University of Pennsylvania graduate working as a web designer in the garment industry when inspiration struck. A striped upholstery fabric seemed perfect for a ’60s-style, low-rise, flared-hem silhouette.

“My family had been in the textile business for hundreds of years, so I grew up playing with lace at my dad’s offices,” the designer recalls. “That was my blueprint, but I didn’t decide that I actually wanted to be a designer until later. I was building websites and working at a company starting a bunch of clothing lines, and I got absorbed in it.”

Los Angeles designer Lisa Kline spotted her on the street wearing the pants and promptly placed an order. Bendet and her partner at the time dubbed the line alice + olivia after their mothers, and their first all-trouser collection was snapped up by Barneys New York. Theory CEO Andrew Rosen offered to finance Bendet’s business, and a colorful aesthetic was born.

Now shoppable at more than 800 department stores as well as 36 signature boutiques (including Bendet’s 2-year-old shop in Highland Park Village), alice + olivia includes ready-to-wear, evening gowns and accessories, plus a new range of oversize eyewear and AO.LA denim.

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