All Dressed Up

Your next favorite outfit is on Lake Avenue

Friday, August 29, 2014 | 8:52 pm

Yuan Lyu's handmade original dresses.

The fashion world’s next great designer might just be sitting in her shop right now, over on Lake Avenue.

Paris Lyu opened her dress shop just three months ago, and has already created quite a stir with her handmade designs.

“I was very surprised,” she said, recently. “As soon as I opened the store I got a lot of business. I think it was all the ladies at the nail salons,” she laughed.

And that’s not even the best story. Lyu arrived in America from mainland China with her husband just a few months before opening her store. And her husband? She married him after knowing him only 21 days.

“He was a good friend of my uncle,” she said. The uncle and hubby-to-be were classmates together. The couple met, fell in love, and he brought her to America.

“When I came to Los Angeles,” recalled Lyu,  “I was thinking, ‘What can I do in Los Angeles, because it’s a new environment, everything is new, and I don’t have friends, I just have my husband.’  So my husband encouraged me. He said, ‘What do you want to do’”?

“I knew I wanted to do something with clothes and design,” she told Pasadena Now. “That’s something I’ve always been interested in.” It was a brand-new career for her, as she had actually trained as a journalist in China. Now, she was going to be the news.

The couple bought a small house, and she opened it up as her work space, where her dresses are actually cut and produced.

“I use only natural fabrics that I buy from all over the world,” said Lyu. “I buy a lot of solid color silk from Italy, and some beautiful cottons. It’s all natural fabric, even the linings.”

And people notice.

“The other day, a woman came in with her daughter,” said Lyu,  “and it was very hot, and I think they were just coming in to get out of the heat, and then she saw my dresses. It turns out that her daughter was a contestant in the Miss Dallas contest. They ordered five dresses for the contest, and bought almost all of my leather pieces!”

While her store is filled with racks of her own beautiful original and classic designs, Lyu also makes custom dresses, from the first original sketches to the final product, all produced locally.

“A customer will come in and look at designs, and look at fabrics, and from there I will come up with ideas,” Lyu explained. “Maybe she wants no sleeves, maybe she wants a high neckline. Whatever she wants, I can design and make.”

And her dresses are surprisingly affordable. A shimmering blue hand-made silk cocktail dress was priced at $500, a deal, considering it will likely last forever.

“A professor from UCLA came in a few weeks ago, and bought one of these dresses in every color I have,” Lyu recalled. Now that’s smart.

Speaking of smart, when asked about the dress she was wearing that day, she said, “This is polyester. I wear these in the store so that people can really see the difference between polyester and silk.”

Lyu demonstrated for us, the various weights of the fabrics, showing how a well-cut  heavy cotton dress can actually stand up by itself, for example. In addition to the dresses, Lyu also creates original jewelry and a host of leather pieces.

Paris Lyu. You read it here first.

Yuan Lyu Boutique is at 526 S Lake Ave, Pasadena. (626) 701-5895.




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