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California Fashion Designer, Gina Ellis, Has Created A Miracle With Prayer Haute Couture

Updated on April 25, 2014

Ultimate Lifestyle Clothing Designed By Gina Ellis

Grey Empress Pullover and Grey Dress from the "Prayer Haute Couture" classic collection.
Grey Empress Pullover and Grey Dress from the "Prayer Haute Couture" classic collection. | Source

Easy Styles With An Elegant Edge

"I designed "Prayer" to empower women with comfortable sweats," said Gina Ellis.

I don't know if it's the influx of different cultures or the global changes affecting Los Angeles right now that're altering sportswear but it's being redefined. I'm not talking about the way Rudi Gernreich streamlined it in the '60s, or when Rachel London prettified it in the '80s, but how it's subtly changing to reflect today's trends and contemporary lifestyles. Instead of "reinventing the wheel" fashion designer Gina Ellis has gone the opposite direction of "Juicy Couture" and refined her casual wear of sweats, wraps, sweaters, throws, leggings and t-shirts by constructing them out of cashmere and Supima cotton then further detailing some of them with embroidery. Flowing from one natural palette to another, when you see her ash, grey and black classic collections you'll feel like you're looking at the physical manifestation of a Dorothea Lange photograph or Georgia O'Keeffe abstract. Beautiful as either stand alones or coordinates they also go well with Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs.

"Prayer is the ultimate lifestyle collection for the modern 21st-century woman who's a bit of a rebel and also a trendsetter," said Ellis. "She also understands fashion, wants to be comfortable and wear things that translate well from travel to resort to work."

Petite, with long blond hair, and an athletic body Ellis personifies the "California girl" the "Beach Boys" sang about in the '60s. She's her own best muse. Casually dressed in a sleeveless white tank top, skin-tight black pants and black ankle boots, when I interviewed her at her showroom, she told me the reason for creating "Prayer" initially "was to give herself options." Tired of the usual fare offered in the stores she took a chance and filled a niche for women, like her, who wanted more than shorts and jeans on their downtime.

Born on August 19, the same day as Coco Chanel, she shares more than a birthday with her she also shares a natural gift for design. More intrinsically skilled than classically trained she insists her "approach to style" came from being raised among the grandeur of Big Sur. Orignally from New York she came to California at two years old. Her parents were professional dancers, top talents who added glamour to various nightclubs and fraternized with Gwen Verdon and other fleet footed hoofers. She later studied dance with Jaime Rogers, but her heart really belonged to fashion, so she followed that path instead.

"At 7, when I lived in Big Sur, a salesman came by with a treadle sewing machine," she said. "I begged my mother to buy it, then when she did, I made my brother a shirt with it."

Professionally her career has been varied enough to make her current venture a logical succession. From her days as a film wardrobe stylist and rock'n'roll costume designer to a graphic artist she's refined a signature style that's eternally significant. An industry veteran, of over 10 years, she has an extensive background in retail and label ownership. She used part of her name, when she started "Gina Nicole" in 1982 and later, in 2005, she started "Classic Collection" the foundation for "Prayer Haute Couture". But don't look for her company to ever be as widely advertised as "Ed Hardy" because she believes in "building a strong base from small growth."

"My customers are 40 to 60 year olds," she said. "They're more forward-thinking dressers, jet setters and celebrities. We haven't sought out the press and publicity instead they've come to us. We've also put our merchandise directly into the stores."

The celebrities who've already worn "Prayer Haute Couture" are Cindy Crawford, who wore an off-white "Elegant Throw" in an informercial for a skincare product, and Cher who bought their "Phoenix" sweats. When asked who her dream customers would be Ellis said, "Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett."

"California Dreaming" is the name of her Spring 2012 collection and this time she's using all pastels.

"I feel it represents the future as we move towards more love and life, and people come together with more optimism," she said.

Her point of view now is "to go back to the beginning of "Prayer"." One of her current best-sellers, up North, are her t-shirts which are super soft, form-fitting and great for just about any occasion. Her line can be expensive, with a "Prayer Haute Couture Cashmere Cardigan" costing you $1.200 at "Fred Segal Couture" but the value is in the construction. She's also working on a "more accessible and affordable" "Prayer Haute" line inspired by Hip-Hop fashion and other styles she was exposed to while working in L.A..

As wonderful to wear as her clothes are it's the positive spirit she attaches to each garment that makes them really special. Whether or not you agree with her that "everyone needs a prayer" you can't deny we all need clothes made by designers who care about quality as much as she does.

You Can Find "Prayer Haute Couture" At The Following Stores:

1) A'Maree's (2241 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA. 92663, (949) 642-4423).

2) Stacey Todd (13025 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA. 91604. (818) 981-3031).

3) Mitsukoshi (Isetan Mitsukoshi LTD, 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 160-0022 Japan).

4) Fred Segal Couture (500 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA. 90401, (310) 458-8100).

5) Wendy Foster (516 San Ysidro Rd., Santa Barbara, CA. 93101, (805) 565-1506).

6) Minnie T's #1 (1355 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA. 90291, (310) 664-3600).

7) Susan Of Burlingame (1403 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame, CA. 94010, (650) 347-0452)

8) The Grocery Store (311 Primrose Road, Burlingame, CA. 94010, (415) 928-3615).

If you'd like more information about "Prayer Haute Couture" please either call Gina Ellis at (800) 941-0576 or go to her website at

Had you ever heard of Gina Ellis or Prayer Haute Couture before this article?

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