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Home sweet home for fashion designer

September 15, 2003

LOLITA HARPER

Have you seen the movie Sweet Home Alabama? You know, the one where

the adorable blond leaves her quaint hometown and moves to New York

only to launch her own clothing line and become the next darling in

the fashion industry.

An interesting turn of events, including a super-rich fiancee and

an old blue-eyed boyfriend, brings her home. It is mostly a love

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story -- with a great wardrobe for leading lady Reese Witherspoon,

who plays the up-and-coming designing diva.

Take away the blue-eyed hunk and the down-home accents, and you've

got a story similar to Costa Mesa's very own, Meghan Noland. Hers is

mostly a love story, involving a needle, a dream and a passion for

fashion.

Meghan picked up a sewing needle at age 4. She learned to stitch

and mend when others were hand painting. The early childhood hobby

continued through adulthood.

She went to New York City, where she attended the Fashion

Institute of Technology. While in the Big Apple, she worked as an

intern with such major designers as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and

Versace. Noland was inspired to create her own line and headed back

to the fair weather of Southern California founded her line in the

back room of a Belmont Shores mall.

Megan Noland Inc., was born Jan. 1, 2001.

Two and a half years later, Hollywood stars -- like as

Witherspoon, coincidentally -- are wearing Noland's flirty wares, as

well as a devoted following of fun and fashionably forward women. It

was her success that brought her to the coveted racks of high fashion

on the second floor of Nordstrom at South Coast Plaza.

On Saturday, Noland returned to her city of the arts to show her

masterpieces at Nordstrom in South Coast Plaza. Her appearance was

well-attended and Noland was radiant. Her classic Southern California

look and warm smiled wooed all that gathered and the event was

buzzing with public relations people and event coordinators, all

eager to hype their clients.

Rather than report on the scheduled "appearance," which was an

obviously orchestrated plot to create interest in the line, I thought

it was more telling to write about what I saw hours before the

shin-dig got underway.

My friend Katie and I were shopping Saturday morning because she

had a wedding to attend, and -- gasp -- nothing to wear. We headed to

second floor of Nordstrom -- armed with her father's credit card --

where the most fashionable wares are displayed. It was there a minor

commotion caught our eye.

"Look at this," one woman said loudly. "It's gorgeous. Feel this,

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