Reaching for the Stars

 In Feature, Style

Catching up with the winners of Saint Louis Fashion Weeks emerging designer contest.


As Saint Louis Fashion Week Fall 2013 fades into memory, its effects on the winners of the Project:Design! Emerging Designer Competition have only just begun. Thanks to the generous donor support of the STLFW Fashion Fund’s Adopt-A-Designer program, three deserving design teams walked away from the competition with super-sized prize packages and a jumpstart toward fulfilling their dreams. The talented designers behind Miita Collection, Q Liu and Abaya Dake proved their talent, skill and drive to guests and judges, and were rewarded with insight, education and resources that will prove invaluable as they build their brands from the ground up.

Overall Winner: Miita Collection Angela Brugioni and Kristen Carsrud were beyond excited when their line, Miita Collection, was announced as the overall winner of the Project:Design! Emerging Designer Competition. “We didn’t even hear the part where we actually won until we walked out and there was a check and flowers,” Brugioni says. The New York-based designers walked away with a fabulous haul: $2,500 cash, a $30,000 marketing package, a $500 gift card, 10 pairs of shoes from their runway show provided by Brown Shoe Company and one-on-one sessions with St. Louis fashion professionals, including Brown Shoe Director of Marketing Kelly Malone, Saint Louis Fashion Week Director of Marketing Lindsay Pattan and marketing specialist Cabanne Howard.

Sophisticated, clean and effortless, Miita Collection strives to provide its wearers with chic pieces that can be worn every day. Presently working on perfecting the development stage of their brand, Brugioni and Carsrud are in no rush to release Miita on a national level. “We are taking our time to put things together and decide the details of how we want to present the brand,” Brugioni says. “Our experience [at STLFW] and our marketing prize package have given us insight on how to grow Miita beyond New York, reach out to editors and grow awareness.” The design duo also plans to use a portion of the $2,500 cash prize to launch an interactive e-commerce website to make Miita Collection easily accessible to fashion-loving gals across the globe. See the collection at

Runner-Up: Q Liu St. Louis-based designer and fashion artist Qun Liu wowed the Project:Design! audience with her uniquely handcrafted garments. The Q Liu wearable art collection features bold colors, eco-friendly fabrics and Liu’s signature felting technique, which involves matting together wool and silk using heat, pressure and moisture. Each piece is created as a separate entity, telling a simple, yet powerful, story and drawing inspiration from nature—in particular, the sound of a bird’s song. “I love the simplicity of line and shape,” Liu says.

As runner-up, Liu was awarded one year of free rent in a Downtown St. Louis studio, a fashion feature in ALIVE Magazine and models for a look book shoot with fashion photographer Attilio D’Agostino. “I loved meeting and working with [designers, influencers and fashion professionals] who are also passionate about fashion and creativity. I look forward to building my brand with this exciting prize package and hosting an open studio event.” Liu is presently teaching and participating in exhibitions at Craft Alliance.

People’s Choice Winner: Abaya Dake Ghana-born designer and recent Lindenwood University graduate Abaya Dake describes his brand as “fashion for the people.” He specializes in providing women with clothing that makes them feel confident and powerful. “I was so pleased to see this collection come to life,” says Dake, “[Project:Design!] was a very accommodating community and it was great to meet all of these inspiring people and [New York Fashion Week's] Fern Mallis right here in St. Louis.”

Dake was awarded $250 cash and a fashion spread in ALIVE Magazine. He plans to put the prize money toward new equipment—a serger in particular— and is preparing to release a new collection and website this month. See the collection at




Photo credit: Mark Schwigen

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