Washington design team Viktor Valentine and Sharron Dinkins of Modern Trends used to call their latest collection Rude, because it was created "with a total disregard for fashion esthetics," says Valentine. But potential customers were put off by the name, so they now call the clothes Collage, which happens to describe them perfectly.
"Now when people say they are wearing Collage they can tell their friends they are wearing art -- which it is," says Dinkins, who adds that there is a certain appeal in the fact that the name is French.
Valentine and Dinkins, both artists, started designing soon after they met in Washington in 1982. "We wanted to use our artistic skills but wanted to be utilitarian; we wanted to make art -- not to stick on the walls but art that was useful."
They make their collages, which are sold at Toast and Strawberries in Dupont Circle and Nomad in Adams-Morgan, with scraps of fabric. Both do the cutting and pinning of the pieces, but Dinkins determines the always easy, comfortable silhouettes of the clothes. "I do the boring parts," says Valentine. He's not worried about customers getting tired of the look. "We'll continue to make these clothes as long as people are interested in them. They are not meant to be trendy. Once they become trendy it will be time to move on to something else."
That something else will include a film, called "Never Trust a Pretty Face," an homage to silent films of the 1920s, produced in black and white by Natasha Reatig in a very stylized and deliberately artificial way. Filming will start in Washington this winter with the women's costumes by Dinkins and Valentine.