EVERY FASHION SHOW NEEDS a shamelessly fabulous moment or two, and the Sept. 16 runway debut of Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B. collection in NYC had at least three: Naomi Campbell strutting down the catwalk in barely legal short shorts, vintage cars on hydraulics rocking on stage, and Stefani bestowing end-of-the-show kisses on Vogue editor Anna Wintour and hubby Gavin Rossdale (in that order). ''It was crazy,'' Stefani says from L.A., where, several days after the New York Fashion Week unveiling of her spring 2006 collection, she's rehearsing for her upcoming fall tour. ''I couldn't believe all the hype behind it.'' (Um, okay. After all, who'd expect Gwen Stefani to attract attention?)
While L.A.M.B.'s embellished tracksuits, Rasta-inspired knits, and gaucho-heel combos deliver the edge one expects from the DayGlo pop star ''It's a bit of Sound of Music, a little bit of Rasta girls, a little bit of low rider, Orange County chola girl,'' she says it's also undeniably commercial. Since the line's 2003 inception, sales have grown 300 percent each year (they've reached more than $40 million in 2005), and the label will branch out into fragrance and lingerie in the fall of 2006.
One secret to Stefani's success: remaining hands-on. ''What I really enjoy about it is the process. [Designing] is something that I'm passionate about and I want to do for a long time.'' So will she take another ride down the New York runway during the fall shows next February? ''[Fall 2006] is a ridiculously cute, sick collection, so hopefully I'll be able to do a show,'' says Stefani. ''I just have to see if I'm even a human being and alive after the tour.''