Photograph by Coral Von Zumwalt
Ribbon nation: Sewing stiff ribbons together to make a book bag while attending college in Sarajevo in 2000 led Naida Begeta, a product-design student, into a career in fashion. The unlikely material is the foundation of her accessories and clothing line, Kao Pao Shu, which she named after a prolific, now-retired Chinese actress. Long-distance call: Stores in Japan and Italy snapped up Begeta’s asymmetrical dresses, wrap skirts, and wide-leg trousers because they diverged from prevailing trends. Similarly, Begeta has attracted the sort of clientele that breaks rules. “In Tokyo I saw girls wearing my skirts as dresses or my hair bows as anklets,” she says. Jersey girl: Two years ago, after meeting and marrying her husband in Italy, Begeta settled in the United States. “In Milan people buy a piece of clothing because of how elegant it looks on, no matter how it feels. In L.A. they go more by how comfortable it is.” She accommodates tamer stateside tastes by using soft Italian jersey. “It was boring until I realized I could draw on it.” » Kao Pao Shu, 1906 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-453-1919.