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Emma Fletcher, Lyell

Industry devotees of Lyell, the collection of delicate blouses and dresses designed by Aussie Emma Fletcher, weren't remotely surprised when Ecco Domani recently announced the line as one of five women's wear winners of its Fashion Foundation prize. Along with a healthy $25,000 check, however, the award stipulates that recipients must stage a runway show during next month's New York fashion week--a first for Fletcher. A former manager of the club Tramps, Fletcher has been turning out sweet, graceful clothes for four years, and has been whispered about as posing a threat to Jane Mayle's reign over a certain kind of gamine, unfussy Hollywood girl. (Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman are Lyell fans.) Still, a grateful Fletcher seemed a bit stunned by the windfall when reached at her blink-and-you-miss-it NoLita boutique. (The vibe? Just imagine trying on piles of thin velvet dresses in some fabulous great aunt's Art Deco, black-and-white tiled bathroom.) "It's going to be quite dark and moody, with depressing music," the designer said of her debut show, which will take place at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park on February 2. "To me, the clothes are the easiest thing to produce. It's all the other stuff--the lighting, the models--that's tough." So what's foremost on her mind, as she embroiders, pins, and sews her way through the next month? "I just want the show to have a lot of feeling."

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