Emily Brady Koplar earned a degree in economics from Boston University. Then she followed her bliss.

Koplar went on to study fashion at New York’s celebrated Parsons School of Design in New York, spending her 20s working for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Tam and May Department Stores. Now, at 32, Koplar is back in her hometown of St. Louis designing her own line: Wai Ming,

Why Wai Ming?

Koplar’s dad is “mostly” Irish. Her mom is Chinese. Her given name was Emily Wai Ming Brady. Translated from the Chinese,”Wai Ming” means “Gift of Light” (because Koplar was born on the longest day of the year, June 21). And “Wai Ming” has proven to be just that in the fashion world, where Koplar is indeed a shining new light.

With only two seasons under her belt, Wai Ming’s fall designs stand out in the crowd for their vivid and polished vibe set in motion by Koplar’s use of beautiful fabrics, rich colors, unique styles and details. The end result: contemporary apparel for women that blends uptown refinement and sophistication with a youthful, downtown edge in squeaky clean, yet uber feminine day to date looks.

Our favorite fall pieces focus on the use of leather details, juxtaposing the edginess of leather with sensuous fabrications. A sell-out was a rich teal t-shirt with a girly gathered neck, off-set by a boyish camel leather sleeve. A knockout is the leather bodice dress, with a camel leather cut-out top paired atop an airy pleated chiffon skirt. A cozy yet cool new arrival is the knit cowl neck sweater with ¾ sleeves and waist trimmed in black leather.

In addition to the smart use of leather, Wai Ming’s fall collection is distinguished by her creative use of color palette: pops of teal gracefully mixed with fall’s staples of camel and grey, black and white.

Wai Ming’s first two collections, Spring and Fall 2012 can be found at Two Skirts in Telluride. And we suggest you come early to buy: Koplar makes only between 25 – 60 of each style ( and she distributes to about 20 other outlets).

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