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Inside the New Christopher Collins Boutique

The newly-opened boutique from San Francisco native Christopher Collins takes its cues from the pages of history – and we’re not just talking about the clothes, the best of which amp up highly wearable silhouettes with dramatic details culled from fashion’s past.

Quite literally, the pages of fashion’s past have a presence in the local designer’s Tendernob boutique, thanks to walls papered with the style sections of newspapers hailing from the early 20th century and before.

“We’re really inspired by historical fashion…I get really inspired by walking through museums,” say Collins, a one-time visual merchandiser for Nieman Marcus and San Francisco State University alum who honed his craft in Los Angeles working for designers such as Tadashi and Dina Bar-el before launching his eponymous label last year with longtime friend Erica Tanamachi, the company’s creative director.

Since then, the two have designed three collections, all of which have been produced and sewn in San Francisco using fabrics sourced from Italy, France and Japan.

Neatly hung on racks below a striking Manzanita branch sculpture Collins made himself, offerings from the Fall 2009 collection ($160-$750) range from statement-makers such as a three-button Edwardian coat, high-waisted pencil skirt in Japanese denim and a high-neck ruched lace top to versatile pieces to form a wardrobe backbone, among them a sleek black skirt in heavy denim with just the right amount of stretch and a button-front shirt dress with office-to-cocktail party potential. Fans of a strong shoulder will find just that in the delightfully structured Elizabethan jacket. There is also a small selection of pieces from past collections.

Also notable is the clothing’s wide-reaching appeal. Pants and skirts are routinely cut with the long-legged in mind, while carefully placed seams, darts and piping on many styles successfully flatter, whether you’re a size two or a 12. The result? Fans ranging from your average 20-something to San Francisco socialites.

Says Collins:

“The 20-year-old and Joy Bianchi wearing the same item, that doesn’t happen very often.”

But it has, and we strongly suspect it’s not the last time.

The Christopher Collins boutique is located at 1116 Sutter St., 415-440-2464. Hours: Thu-Sat 11am-7pm.