Earlier this year, Wade College in the Dallas Design District requested my help in judging the fashion portfolios of a few soon-to-be graduates. I was excited for the opportunity, hoping I might discover a fresh, local talent destined for design stardom. My wish was granted when I met Venny Etienne.
He was charming, well dressed, and passionate when he spoke, standing out from his fellow students that day. He showed his work with confidence, betraying not a single sign of nervousness. Along with their portfolios, the future designers also presented clothing samples. When Etienne unveiled a black crop top and skirt set with the most incredible white piping detail, I was sold.
Brooklyn born and raised, Etienne also studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology before moving to Texas. After our first encounter, he completed his major in fashion design and graduated from Wade College as the Valedictorian of his class. Following months of preparation, he then presented his Le’Venity line at the annual Designers Choice Fashion Preview show last Saturday, November 23. I caught up with Etienne in the midst of that very busy weekend to find out a little more about his inspirations and what we can expect in the future. Read on for our exclusive interview, plus select photos of current designs.
Heather Lettieri: I’ve seen influences from across the board in your designs, from Bollywood to ancient Egypt. What was the inspiration for your current collection?
Venny Etienne: “I like to draw my inspiration mainly from culture, and from what I experience through my travels. In this particular collection, I wanted to bring it back home and use some elements that I remember from when I was young and growing up in New York. So, this collection is inspired by New York life in every aspect.”
Where did the name for your brand originate?
“I wanted to make sure that the name of my brand still included my identity. If you take the word ‘Le’Venity’ and drop the ‘L,’ it literally has every single letter of my full name. So, the brand still represents me, but in an encrypted way!”
Describe the experience of showcasing during the Designers Choice Fashion Preview.
“Oh, my God. Words truly cannot express the feelings that I have in regards to Theresa Timmons and the Designers Choice Fashion Preview. It was such an amazing experience, and an honor to show my designs with some of the best talent here in the Metroplex. The love and support that I received from everyone there was surreal!
“I appreciate Theresa Timmons and Willie Johnson for giving me the chance to finally show Dallas who I am, and what my voice is as a designer. The best part of the show was seeing both my sisters – one from New York and another from Atlanta – in the audience. That is what you call love and support!”
Growing up in New York, you’ve experienced many cultures and different senses of style. In your opinion, what’s the best thing about the style of Texas women?
“It’s simply classy! Whenever I go to an event here, it never ceases to amaze me how elegant and chic the women in Texas are. In New York, you see many different styles – even some that push the boundaries – and to be honest, Texas is no different.”
What woman would you love to dress, and why? What about her personifies your label?
“If I could dress Solange Knowles, my design life would be complete! She represents every aspect of the brand. She is beautiful, a mom, independent, and she values family and friendship. She is hard-working, loves fashion, and supports the industry, as well. I have a huge list of people I’d like to dress, but if I had to pick one, I would choose her!”
What can we expect to see from Le’Venity next year?
“You will definitely see me in more fashion shows and presentations around the Metroplex, as well as in other cities. I will also have my own fashion show towards the end of next year, so be on the lookout. The best is definitely yet to come.”
Finally, this week we’d love to ask, what are you thankful for this year?
“Wow, this was a huge year for me. I am thankful for so many things this year, including graduating from TR Cutting School by Shingo Sato in the top 13 worldwide, graduating as Valedictorian from Wade College, and showcasing my collection at Designers Choice. I’m especially thankful for the people who supported and loved me unconditionally throughout the whole process.”