The New Faces of Southern Style

Ben Williams
Aug/Sept 2010

Meet twenty-one rising stars who are making us all look good

Jane Pope Cooper
New York, New York
The Jane Pope Collection & Balboa Jewelry
Leave it to South Carolina–born Jane Pope Cooper to make beetle earrings sexy. Raised in the small town of Newberry, Cooper credits her upbringing as the inspiration behind her bohemian, all-natural jewelry designs (including those aforementioned 14-karat-gold earrings), some now worn by free-spirited style icons like Sienna Miller and Drew Barrymore. Up next, she’ll include gauzy fabrics to add a little flounce to her Balboa collection, while her high-end line, the Jane Pope Collection, will include oversize polished cabochons flecked with the sparkle of coffee, black, and natural diamonds. Cooper is now based in Manhattan. “I am taking advantage of everything the city has to offer,” she says, “but my style—both personal and professional—is Southern.”

Elizabeth Yarborough
San Francisco, California
Yarborough Jewelry
North Carolina native Elizabeth Yarborough began designing jewelry after abandoning an earlier career as a book editor in New York City. The line—which often incorporates bits of folksy Southern history such as pottery shards, spools of yarn, and leather buttons—was quickly picked up by the influential showroom Opening Ceremony, and soon her jewelry was catching on in every fashion circle in Manhattan. Yarborough hasn’t slowed down since. Recently she moved to San Francisco, reinventing her look with the debut of Yarbie Bangle Boutique, a brick-and-mortar location devoted to a new line of colorful bracelets inspired by, among other things, North Carolina rag rugs. “My use of color is inherently Southern,” she says. “My bangles pop from a mile away.”

Ann Ziebell
Atlanta, Georgia
Ann Ziebell Jewelry
• “It’s been said that my jewelry has speakeasy swank,” says Ann Ziebell, the Atlanta antiques dealer turned jeweler, of her collection. That trademark style started with a trip to an antiques shop in Florida, where Ziebell spotted a 1930s crystal shoe buckle, a relic she quickly turned into wearable art upon returning home. Since then, Ziebell has been hard at work creating one-of-a-kind necklaces and bracelets by hand for boutiques from New York to New Orleans. “Southern women wear my pieces well,” she says, “because they’re immersed in a culture that celebrates making things your own.”

Erin Wasson
New York, New York
Erin Wasson & RVCA
Supermodel and designer Erin Wasson has been on a decade-long tour of glamour, luxury, and exotic locales. Yet her style has never strayed far from her native Irving, Texas. “I wear the same clothes now as I did when I was eighteen,” she says. “To me, being stylish means sticking to your own sense of dressing. You can tweak it a little, but the essence of you is always the same.” Both her clothing line for RVCA and her jewelry line Low Luv are created from this consistently personal point of view, mixing nonchalant Texas style with a Southern bluegrass and rock ’n’ roll sensibility. “Lucinda Williams is my style icon,” she says.

Her designs are sold in the world’s top stores, including Colette in Paris and L.A.’s Fred Segal, and worn by celebrities like Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker. But she is not looking to become a mega brand. “I want to keep it small,” she says. “I want people to feel that they’re getting something special.”

Paul Trible + Paul Watson
Richmond, Virginia
Virginia native Paul Trible and New Orleanian Paul Watson had big plans to enter the financial world after earning business degrees from Oxford University. But Lehman Brothers collapsed the day after they graduated. “Plans changed,” Trible says. As luck and ingenuity would have it, both Trible and Watson had another subject in common: a love of well-made clothes, inspired by a combination of their time in Europe and what Trible calls the “great tradition of personal style in the South.” They soon put that passion to work, apprenticing to an old-fashioned Jermyn Street shirtmaker in London and returning stateside in 2009 to found their own shirt company, Ledbury, in Richmond. Their designs are perfectly tailored, with considered details such as collars that won’t collapse and a lowered second button that creates the perfect V neckline. Their fabrics, imported from Italy, include top-drawer cottons and, new this fall, a cotton-cashmere blend. “We differentiate ourselves on fit and quality,” Trible says, “rather than pushing wild patterns and logos.”

Matt + Carrie Eddmenson
Nashville, Tennessee
Imogene and Willie
It’s no secret that bespoke fashion is back, and the tailored idea has trickled down to Southern denim, with the opening of Nashville’s first custom jeans source, Imogene and Willie. ¶ The shop, owned by Matt and Carrie Eddmenson, is housed in an old gas station and has become a local hangout for visiting celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. The Imogene and Willie jeans are made on the premises, and when customers buy a pair of the signature five-pocket mid-rises, they can get their fit customized the same day. “We want to bring back the personalized services of the mom-and-pop stores,” Matt says. “It’s as traditional and basic and Southern as it gets.”