ALIVE On The Scene: A Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project:Design!, An Emerging Designer Contest

In Style

Last night marked the seventh season of Project:Design!, STLFW’s Emerging Designer Contest; as ALIVE Magazine’s Fashion Editor, I was honored to be chosen as one of eleven judges for the event. Six emerging designers from across the country were chosen to compete for a $30,000 marketing and prize package, essentially setting them up for success and providing the designer with the opportunity to take their collections to the next level.

ALIVE On The Scene: A Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Judges, Samantha Chadwick, Drew Linehan, Suzy Bacino and Jan Leach prepare to view the emerging designers collections. Photo by Matt Kile

 

As the judges began arriving, designers prepared their collections backstage for review. Judges were looking for lines that felt cohesive, well produced and accessible to consumers.

ALIVE On The Scene: A Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Judges Suzy Bacino and AJ Thouvenot view Miita’s beautiful collection. Photo by Matt Kile.

 

Judges split off into groups to view each designer’s collection; judges were able to ask questions about the line and touch the garments to get a better idea of fabrication and production quality. Angela Brugioni, a Parsons The New School for Design graduate, showed judges her minimalistic yet feminine line, Miita. Her outstanding pieces included a liquid latex rain trench and mermaid-like separates.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Judges Drew Linehan and Susan Sherman view Black by Maria Silver. Photo by Matt Kile.

 

Nashville-based designer Maria Silver’s collection had an interesting element of layered prints, and her dramatic trench made the modestly sexy line feel approachable to almost any woman.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Judges Tania Beasley-Jolly and Debra Bass viewing Q Liu. Photo by Matt Kile.

 

Qun Liu is a St. Louis-based designer whose labor intensive felting process and hand-made details created quite a buzz within the judges’ circle. All of Q Liu’s pieces are entirely seamless and play with themes of nature done with traditional techniques.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Judges Jan Leach and Samantha Chadwick viewing Abaya Dake

 

Abaya Dake is also a St. Louis-based designer whose bold prints and classic silhouettes were refreshing and well made. His designs are tailor made to a woman who commands attention.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Spansen Filles designers fit model Lee Anderson for his runway looks. Photo by Matt Kile.

 

SCAD graduates Sabrina Spanta and Chenelle Bertelsen have taken a very interesting approach to their design ethic. They have taken a rather dark inspiration and created an avant-garde, yet wearable line. The duo repurposes knitwear found at thrift stores, keeping their cost at a contemporary price point.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Designer Fouche prepares her looks for the runway. Photo by Matt Kile.

 

Designer Nicole Fouche’s ethereal line of dresses and gowns plays on modern shapes with vintage concepts. The collection walks along the fine line of demure and sexy.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Designer Elise Lammert and Assistant prep for the runway while models get primped in hair and makeup. Photo by Matt Kile.

 

As designers and models prepared for the runway, judges mingled downstairs while sipping on Pinnacle Vodka cocktails and Skinny Girl Wines.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

From left to right clockwise, Abaya Dake, Miita, Black by Maria Silver, Q Liu, Fouche and Spansen Filles. Photos by Mark Schwigen.

 

The most difficult part of the evening came near the end—judges were quickly ushered into a private room to deliberate. Each judge had their own reason and opinion on why their chosen designer was best, some were even having trouble choosing just one. We each wrote our final choice on a piece of paper and the majority vote would take the prize.

ALIVE On The Scene: Behind The Scenes Look At Judging Project Design, An Emerging Designer Contest

Winner of Project Design, Miita. Photo by Mark Schwigen.

 

Drumroll please….Miita, the New York-based line took home the prize; their cohesive, feminine and modern line was a favorite amongst all the judges. Runner-up Q Liu took home a year of free rent in a Downtown studio space and People’s Choice winner, Abaya Dake, received a prize of $250 and a feature in ALIVE Magazine.

Thank you to my fellow judges: Susan Sherman, Suzy Bacino, Jan Leach, Rick Gelber, Laura Kathleen, Casanova, AJ Thouvenot, Tania Beasley-Jolly, Debra Bass and Drew Linehan. This event would not have been possible without your discerning eye and volunteered time.

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