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    Timberlake’s fashion line brings stylish back

    By Donna Freydkin, USA TODAY
    They already know Justin Timberlake. And on Sunday, fashionistas get to meet the singer’s stylish alter ego, William Rast.

    Timberlake and his business partner, Trace Ayala, make their New York Fashion Week debut with the first East Coast William Rast show. It’ll be held at the Roseland Ballroom.

    «It’s our intro to New York Fashion Week. There won’t be people flying around from the ceiling,» Timberlake says. The 9 p.m. invite-only show «is really about introducing the lifestyle we come from. It’s our opportunity to say, ‘This is who we are.’ »

    Timberlake and Ayala founded the William Rast line in 2005 and named it after the first and last names of their grandfathers. Initially, the childhood friends with deep Tennessee roots focused on denim.

    Hoping to expand the brand, the duo tapped husband-and-wife design team Johan and Marcella Lindeberg of the Swedish brand J. Lindeberg to help create a full ready-to-wear men’s and women’s collection for fall. The Lindebergs signed on to help Timberlake and Ayala expand both their vision and their business because they all clicked on a personal level.

    «We connected with both Trace and Justin and saw how engaged they were in building a solid brand with long-term intentions,» Johan Lindeberg says. «We brought a more European, more modern tweak to the whole thing. (Justin) is very engaged.»

    And working with Timberlake has its perks, Lindeberg says: «We are very, very connected. My daughter was out hiking with (Timberlake) the other day. It feels like you’re a band. We’re all members.»

    The fall William Rast line ranges from $66 for T-shirts to $560 for a leather jacket and is carried at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.

    Ayala says he’s a big fan of the line’s new distressed chinos. As for dapper dresser Timberlake, he’s into the tuxedo jacket.

    «I love some of the new jeans we’re putting out. I love the shirts and blazers. I feel like we’re definitely Tennessee first,» Timberlake says. «We’ve been around the world, both of us, and we’ve seen so many different types of styles, but I think we’re a Tennessee brand first and we’re trying to create a modern Southern heritage. We want to make it as modern as possible, but there’s a certain type of heritage we consider quality.»

    SOUTHERN COMFORT RAST CALL AT FASHION WEEK

    By RAAKHEE MIRCHANDANI
    Justin Timberlake and his partner-in-style Trace Ayala make their NYC Fashion Week debut Sunday.
    Complete Fashion Week Coverage
    September 5, 2008 —

    The tents are up and the ringmasters are ready – New York City’s semi-annual fashion circus is in session.

    So hold the carbs, bring on the champagne and wear your sunglasses indoors, even in the dark. You might not have a ticket to the shows, but here’s what you need to know to feel like you’re part of the action.

    Click here for complete Fashion Week coverage

    BIG TENN

    Co-designers, besties and Tennessee natives Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala bring their blend of Southern hospitality and LA flavor to the Big Apple with their first NYC William Rast runway show.

    «We’re looking forward to our debut of the line and to showcase what we all worked so hard on for the past year,» Timberlake tells The Post. He says people can expect «a good show that will focus on the brand’s DNA» and adds, it’s «a good opportunity to showcase who we are. They can expect true Southern heritage in a modern-day setting.»

    Thanks, J.

    The duo’s runway debut – Sunday at 9 p.m. at Roseland Ballroom – will feature both men’s and women’s wear and was developed and designed in collaboration with Johan and Marcella Lindeberg of Paris68.

    «We’re both freaking out,» Ayala says. «Justin said to me, ‘Do you realize we are about to do New York Fashion Week?’ He looked at me and was like, ‘Now it’s serious.’

    Ayala describe his partner’s personal style as part Sinatra and part hip-hop. «People ask me, ‘What makes your shirts different than so-and-so’s shirts?’ Not one thing. The only thing that makes mine different is the lifestyle we sell. The one we live. It’s heritage meets Hollywood.»

    Ayala describes his own style as «Southern gentleman»: vintage jeans, T-shirt, boots, baseball hat.

    «I feel like right now we have the DNA of who we are. The past couple seasons we have been struggling. We are two guys, and even though we are from the same place, we have different style,» he says. «But since we created this character, William Rast, it’s the fusion of us two, if you put our lives together. It’s the sleekness of a Southern gentleman.»

    Justin Timberlake goes for ‘Mr. Sexy Backwoods’

    Justin Timberlake is shaking his «Mr. Sexy Back» reputation for something more like «Mr. Sexy Backwoods.»

    Timberlake took an A-list New York Fashion Week crowd to Tennesee for his William Rast show on Sunday, treating the likes of Vogue editor Anna Wintour to buckets of Budweiser.

    Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly and Emmanuelle Chriqui of HBO’s «Entourage» were among those squished in the front row with Andy Samberg of «Saturday Night Live,» model Rachel Hunter and actress Carla Gugino. The runway was set like an extended front porch to a run-down house, complete with a mounted deer head and the Tennessee state flag in the window.

    Asked about his inspiration, Timberlake said, «It’s a lot of stuff, but old Tennessee, new Tennessee – mostly Tennesee.»

    Timberlake has said he doesn’t want to be known as «Mr. Sexy Back» forever, although he’s not complaining about the attention.

    «I don’t want to be known for just one thing,» he said backstage, nursing a cup of hot tea for a sore throat. «Maybe that’s why I do so many things.»

    The William Rast spring collection, designed with Swedish designer Johan Lindeberg and his Italian wife, Marcella, was what Timberlake and partner Trace Ayala said they’d always been shooting for.

    It was hard to imagine the celebrities wearing torn jeans and rolled up jean shorts paired with leather and fringe – some of which looked more suited to the pages of Guns & Ammo than Vogue. But tailored leather jackets looked more refined, along with super-short, super-wide ties like the one Timberlake wore on the «Fashion Rocks» red carpet.

    Timberlake also presented a movie-style trailer where he plays an outlaw character named William Rast – a combination of his and Ayala’s grandfathers’ names – as a promotion for the brand.

    Justin Timberlake Fails to Dance With Fug Girls at William Rast

    We figured Justin Timberlake’s hotly touted «My Name Is William Rast» show would be chock-full of gossip, but we never expected intrigue before we’d even taken our seats — in fact, things got sassy while we were still standing outside in line and a red BMW convertible full of dudes slowly cruised the line, blaring R&B slow jams and winking appreciatively at the ladies. If they’d turned their heads to the right, they would’ve realized they were also technically cruising people who had tickets to Hairspray, but the huddled masses of scantily clad Timberlake fans probably made for more satisfying ogling.

    Once inside, we camped out at the end of the red-carpet line hoping to overhear some salacious celebrity tidbits; instead, we heard a harried (yet also amused) PR guy dash up to his friend and pant, «Dude, I have a situation. A model shortage.» Apparently some of the chosen girls slated to wear Timberlake and Trace Ayala’s duds were double-booked, and our hero had to bus some girls across town to fill the void. «Otherwise they’re gonna have me shave my legs and put on a wig,» he cracked.

    Evidently he swept in and saved the day, because the show only started twenty-five minutes late — practically early compared to a lot of similarly star-studded events. Leonor Varela arrived on the dot of nine o’clock for her moment in the sun, and was rewarded by being ushered out of the press area by a militant staffer who had no idea Leonor was famous («famous») and was anxious to clear out uncredentialed gawkers. We count this as one of the top ten signs that an actress needs to nab a guest-spot on network TV post-haste. Varela ignored the woman three times before things got a bit testy and someone finally stepped in and promised it was okay for Leonor to stay. Meanwhile, starlets Malin Akerman and Emmanuelle Chriqui posed for pictures with Chriqui’s former Entourage co-star Carla Gugino, with the three of them taking pains to maximize the photographic variety by reordering themselves every time a new lensman called for their attention. We’ve never seen a trio of actresses so conscious of each others’ good sides.

    The next note on our sloppily written blotter reads, «Silvstedt Swedish boobs,» which about covers everything we learned about Victoria Silvstedt — she gave an interview in her native tongue, which we don’t speak (yet; vakta ute, Stockholm!), and thrust her chest forward for a photographer before tottering inside on impossibly high heels. Then NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and wife Ingrid Vandebosch commandeered the red carpet while Rachel Hunter and Caridee English waited in the wings, making casual conversation that we assume was about the assorted glories of Cover Girl mascara. (The guys behind us didn’t know whom to drool over more: the sports star or the ninety-foot-tall tan blondes. They chose Gordon.) And Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg brought his girlfriend, musician Joanna Newsom, to support his «D*ck In A Box» co-star. We hoped this might mean a model or two would walk out bearing a tenderly wrapped genital gift, perhaps while wearing an Omeletteville tee, but alas it was not to be.

    At about the 9:15 mark, a man tore through the room bellowing into his walkie-talkie, «Get ‘em inside or I’m gonna shut this place down!» Oh, sir. You cannot shut down Justin Timberlake; you can only hope to lose to him in a dance-off. Nonetheless, it worked, and five seconds later a chorus of PR girls loudly ordered everyone into their seats — where, it turns out, buckets of Budweiser super-cans and Bud Light bottles awaited. If we’d known that, we’d have sat down from the get-go. But because we had to clear out of the foyer, we didn’t spy the late-arriving Jeremy Piven and Kevin Connolly — without his girlfriend Camille Guaty, though she is in town doing the Fashion Week rounds — until after the show began. That’s also when we noticed the Coif of Judgment sitting in the front row as well; yes, watch out, Roger Federer, because Anna Wintour turned up early for Timberlake, so it may be a mere matter of time before she’s parading J.T. before the crowd at Marc Jacobs.

    Timberlake opened the show with a faux-trailer for the series of movie-esque ads he’s made for the line, starring him and attendee Erin Wasson as what appear to be a hipster Bonnie and Clyde, but with tighter pants and less Academy Award potential. But he did not, as was rumored, close the show with a performance — nor, sadly, did he carry A-Dubs out of there like a modern-day An Officer and a Gentleman (she’s the officer, he’s the gentleman). Because the beer was still flowing and munchies were being passed on silver trays, we hung around as long as our feet could stand it — but when we saw the tall, handsome dude that we thought was Tyrese Gibson leaving the venue, we figured maybe our hope of a Timberlake concert was in vain. This, of course, means he probably came out thirty seconds later, leaving us both without our moment of teenage palpitations AND minus the taxi we hailed that maybe-Tyrese and his ladyfriend promptly stole.

    All was not lost, though: As we awaited a replacement cab, we saw one of the male models outside on his cell phone, having a smoke and wailing that a girl had hacked into his Facebook and written salacious info about him on there without his permission. See? We KNEW that where the William Rast show went, drama was sure to follow.

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