Two Designers From Saint Louis Fashion Fund Incubator Nominated For FGI Rising Star Awards

The Saint Louis Fashion Fund just recently celebrated the opening of its incubator space on Washington Avenue in Downtown St. Louis. The six inaugural designers—Charles Smith II, Reuben Reuel Riddick, Audra Noyes, Allison Mitchell, Emily Brady Koplar and Agnes Hamerlik—all moved into their new studio spaces to begin their two-year residency.

The class has already shown poise for great success: two of its designers, Koplar and Mitchell, have been announced among the nominees for the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Awards, taking place on Jan. 26 in New York City.

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Rihanna wearing Allison Mitchell brushed Mongolian wool utility belt

Koplar and Mitchell are nominated for the Womenswear and Accessories categories, respectively, and will join top names in the fashion industry such as Prabal Gurung, who will announce the winner of the Womenswear award. Last week, Women’s Wear Daily announced that comedian and Oscar award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg will give the keynote address. Although Goldberg isn’t a regular to the runway or among the fashion elite, she has made waves this past year, walking as a model in Opening Ceremony’s runway show this past fall and launching a line of ugly Christmas sweaters with Lord & Taylor.

Koplar’s brand Wai Ming has been donned by a host of celebrities. Most recently, actress Naomi Harris, who played roles in some of 2016’s most talked-about films “Moonlight” and “Collateral Beauty,” wore a Wai Ming dress during her recent appearance on Access Hollywood. Mitchell’s namesake brand also includes exquisite handbags that have appeared on a number of high-profile media outlets, including Who What Wear.

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Emma Roberts wearing Wai Ming Tripp Dress on Late Night With Seth Meyers

“There’s a lot of talent out there,” Mitchell says. “Many designers are deserving of attention and spotlight. To be chosen over them makes me want to make them proud.” Previous winners of the Rising Star Award include coveted fashion brands such as Altuzarra, Nonoo and Tory Burch. The leadership at Saint Louis Fashion Fund, including Susan Sherman and Tania Beasley-Jolly, will join Koplar and Mitchell in New York at the end of this month to root them on.

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