“Lovely clothes for lovely people,” goes the motto for Lucy Dang’s ladylike line. Sweet words, for elegant dresses and separates, fit for modern day Audreys and Jackies.
As the winner of Texas Next Top Designer 2013, Dang proves that nice gals can finish first.
2013 marks Texas Next Top Designer’s seventh year, and Dang is the all-volunteer program’s fourth biannual winner. This cycle’s field of 16 competing designers were judged by TNTD’s nine board members on criteria ranging from aesthetics to marketability. Spanning several months, the judging process culminated in a runway presentation and announcement event on Friday, February 1st at Uptown’s SISU nightclub.
Setting a scene more ‘cocktail party’ than ‘awards ceremony’, the plastic tent-enclosed mini-pool at SISU buzzed with multi-colored lights and house music in the moments prior to last Friday’s show. If less-than-official, the mood was surely fun, and a crowd of some three hundred-plus gathered for the occasion. Dozens of photographers dotted the space, among local party scene regulars and contestants’ friends and families.
After brief remarks from board member and Dallas fashion personality Jackson, models began circling the pool. Grouped in alphabetical order, each contestant presented three ensembles. The designers included Alexis Lantz, Anslee Connell, Candace Locke, Charmaine Marshall, Chelsea Stumo, David Pedack, Dorris Bogus, Gladys J. Bowie-Young, James Martinez, Leen Borno, Lucy Dang, Ruqaiyah Johnson, Sheila Hamilton, Tekenna Jacobs, Whitney Bracey, and duo William Peck and Cara Noel Noggle.
A few lighting and sound glitches caused confusion, though they were quickly remedied. Arching spouts along the lip of the pool also soaked a hemline or two with chlorinated water. These hiccups were small, but compounded by the fact that no cards or announcements informed the audience as to which designer’s looks were walking at any given point. If a spectator didn’t know what she was looking for, she’d be left guessing. The result was an entertaining, but random, show.
That being said, to this fashion reporter the work of certain competitors was unmistakable. Former Miss Texas contestant Alexis Lantz opened with a trio of ruffled gowns (above left) in blush, red, and white. Statement jewelry by Charmaine Marshall drew admiring stares, as did versatile, day-to-night dresses by Ruby Britt designer Chelsea Stumo (above right). Lucy Dang’s black-and-white print shift and gold-accented black gown (shown at top) were also scene stealers, hinting at her win to come.
Prior to the night’s big announcement, Texas Next Top Designer’s first winner, Abi Ferrin, showed her Spring 2013 line (above). After taking the title in 2007, Ferrin’s business and list of celebrity clients has grown by leaps and bounds. Based here in Dallas at South Side on Lamar, Ferrin is known for her signature five-way dress and bright sheaths. Both graphic and painterly prints are added to the mix for the season to come.
Following Ferrin’s presentation, no time was wasted in announcing Lucy Dang as the winner of Texas Next Top Designer’s 2013 title. One of her winning designs is picture above.
“My heart could have burst,” the Dallas-based designer recalls of that big moment. “I am so grateful to the board of Texas Next Top Designer, because I feel that more doors are open to us now.”
As glasses were raised and applause spread throughout the venue, Dang’s designs walked once more around the poolside runway. Her prize package will include cash and expert mentoring to build her business. But before the next round of hard work begins, the gracious winner tells us she’ll treat her team to a celebratory day at a spa.
Here’s to Lucy Dang, and a very ‘lovely’ honor for a talented Dallas designer.
(Lucy Dang gown photo, courtesy of Lucy Dang. Event photos by Heather Lettieri for DFW Style Daily)