Walking into the light-filled Nardos Imam couture atelier is something akin to waking in a dream; each fantasy gown has its own story to tell. At every turn, a flourish of tulle, taffeta, and organza mingles with delicate Chantilly and Alençon laces, intricate embellishments, and scintillating Swarovski crystals, all making for a heady experience.
Yet, as with the limitless bounds of our overnight imaginations, the artistry of the sculptural creations dramatically suspended in her salon only scratches the surface of the sartorial possibilities of this Dallas talent. They represent an enticing prelude to the custom wonders that Nardos Imam (pictured above) can construct with her uncanny, near-magic touch.
“Design is not just something I do, or a job, or even a career. For me, it is the grace of God taking the shape of a gown. It is finding what’s beautiful in each individual woman, and celebrating that beauty by creating a gown that is unmistakably hers,” says the 36-year-old designer, emerging now on the local scene.
Design practically runs in Nardos’ blood. She grew up with vintage Vogue issues, dress patterns, and fabric scraps, watching her mother make clothes in the African country of Eritrea. When she came to the U.S., the intent was to pursue medicine, but when the visions of garments dancing in her head grew too strong to ignore, she turned to fashion and apparel studies at El Centro College. Nardos then honed her craft for seven years at Dallas’ own designer emporium, Stanley Korshak. She began in the alterations department, and eventually became the store’s in-house designer.
Nardos launched her eponymous line last fall with business partner Mackenzie Brittingham Sumrall. Her earliest mentor, her talented seamstress mother, now works with her as well. In the true style of the couturier, Nardos personally collaborates with her clients, from the beginning sketch, to the hand-fitted cotton muslin pattern and, finally, the finished product.
“When a gown really belongs to a woman, it takes the shape of her body… and also her personality,” she says. Each of the designer’s clients indulges in a luxury, knowing that her one-of-a-kind creation has no other match in Dallas – or the world.
Nardos celebrated her debut collection with a take-your-breath-away show this May, magnificently produced by Jan Strimple at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas. Select images from that show are featured herein. Known for her eye for new talent, Strimple explains of the project, “The production meant a great deal to me on a personal level, as Nardos was once one of my interns. Needless to say, there was a lot of love both backstage and in the audience.”
Seventy-two stunning, hand-spun confections took to the runway that day, including wedding, evening, and cocktail looks, with no fewer than 30 of them completed in a span of two weeks before the show. Queried about this near superhuman feat of design, the modest Nardos merely shrugs it off. She recalls feeling no fatigue, but only pure inspiration, during those 14 intense days. “I am very lucky to do what I love everyday,” she says.
Strimple perhaps best verbalizes the designer’s extraordinary essence, sharing, “Entering the land of Nardos is cleansing to my soul. It’s a world of grace, beauty and honestly demonstrated respect and appreciation.” The land of Nardos is also a land of yes. As Mary Aboujaoude, Nardos’ business consultant, puts it, “Everything is possible.”
In other words, dreams really do come true. For more information, visit NardosImam.com.
Fashion show images, credit Vera Crosby Photography.