Benz and his spotlight.
When Chris Benz was in high school in Seattle, he wore an Urban Outfitters shopping bag as a backpack until the ink wore off (it was the hip thing to do). Now 27, the designer has evolved his style significantly, from stints at Marc Jacobs and J.Crew to launching his own ready-to-wear line three years ago. Benz, who lives in New York, fuses color and pattern into garments that are innovative but wearable (we think of them as uptown meets downtown, especially his gorgeous gowns). His personality echoes his line: bright, bubbly, and just plain nice. You want to be friends with him and wear his clothes. Win-win.