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Not only is Angeleno Raquel Allegra one of the Los Angeles Times' "hot up-and-coming designers," but she's also got a great Cinderella story. It seems her first hit designs were the ones on her back: When she worked as a Beverly Hills Barneys shopgirl, so many people asked for her homemade shredded T-shirt, she decided she'd sell them.

Deconstructed T-shirts (more Commes des Garcons than Flashdance) are still part of the six-year-old brand, but now the designer's talents in construction and color are equally newsworthy. Her spring collection, which ranges from $150 to $1,300 and is available at local boutiques Heist and Madison (plus Barneys), is marked by comfortable dresses, tees and shorts.

Her most crave-worthy pieces are turned out in tie-dyed patterns of black, taupe, yellow and, our favorite, red accented by blue. Floaty silk dresses (from $485), tees, skirts--even office-appropriate blazers (from $785)--are covered in surprisingly sophisticated iterations of what's usually a cringe-inducing hippie look.

It's all the result of Allegra's artistic eye. To wit: Her inspiration isn't the Grateful Dead but Japanese avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama.

Raquel Allegra is available at Heist, 1100 Abbott Kinney Blvd.; 310-450-6531 or

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