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FRANKLY SCARLET

"I was onto Narciso from the very beginning!" says Erica Reid, who discovered Rodriguez's clothes in 1995 at an Atlanta department store. "He was the new kid on the block." Rodriguez himself has suggested that his sensual, feminine designs owe something to his Cuban-American heritage, and Reid agrees: "He's Latino, and he knows women—it's in his blood." And isn't it nice to see an Empire dress ($270) that doesn't make you look pregnant? The secrets: strategic seams that define the bustline and a waistline that dips lower in back.

Earrings, Dean Harris. Bangle, Ippolita. Ring, Glow by Sheila Fajl.

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