Meet the Designers
This year’s Top Design Competition features 10 emerging designers that will knock your socks off.
Lights, camera, glamour! For one week in March, New Orleans Board of Trade is transformed into a destination for all things fashion. From designers and models to photographers, glam squads and fashion aficionados, you can bet that everyone with an interest in fashion will be at New Orleans Fashion Week. The opening evening of NOFW runway shows is one of the most sought-after seats in the house — as the spotlight is shining on 10 emerging designers in the Top Design Competition. The TDC, which takes place March 17, is an exciting fashion competition that gives a group of emerging designers an opportunity to showcase their collection, while competing for a coveted prize package.
The prize package includes a retail placement in Hemline (on Metairie Road), a Brother’s Project Runway Sewing Machine from allbrands.com, a professional photo shoot with Gustavo Escanelle and a feature designer runway show at NOFW 2017. Since its inception, this event has evolved into NOFW’s signature event. Here’s a look at this year’s designers.
Asberry is in his senior year, studying fashion design, at The Art Institute of Atlanta. His fashion aesthetic can be described as modern couture. “Each day that we are given breath is an opportunity to be inspired,” he says.
Interesting Fact: Aside from the world of fashion, Asberry is an avid lover of music. Before pursuing a degree in fashion, he was a vocal performance major.
Upon getting his degree in apparel design at Louisiana State University in 2013, Allen moved to New Orleans with the objective of sharpening his skills as a designer. He initially worked at Saks Fifth Avenue, but he decided to translate his fashion fervor and skill set into creating his own line — Haus of Brik. His use of structured silhouettes, decisive lines and creative fabric manipulations can best describe his fashion style, which gives a fresh interpretation of tomorrow’s fashion.
Interesting Fact: Allen says that coming out of the closet at 16 was difficult. It was something he struggled with, but he feels that it ultimately turned him into the artist he is today — and he wouldn’t trade places with anyone.
Spears is a proud husband and father of three from New Orleans. He moved to Miami in 2011 to attend fashion school, and, in 2014, he graduated from Miami International University of Art & Design with an associate degree in fashion design. He characterizes his aesthetic as contemporary, minimal and innovative, drawing his inspiration from art, architecture and contemporary culture.
Interesting Fact: Itchel almost always dresses from head-to-toe in black. The reason? Because when he was in design school, he would spend too much time deciding what to wear — and he wanted to focus on his design creativity instead.
As young as six years old, Sapera could be spotted sketching little fashion designs on index cards. Those tiny drawings grew into bigger design dreams, which took flight when she earned a degree in apparel design from LSU in 2014. With a desire to obtain a higher, more well-rounded education, she went on to receive her master’s degree in fashion business management at the University of Westminster in London.
Interesting Fact: She believes that women can still be soft and feminine, while being edgy and sexy. This idea is reflected in her juxtaposing design aesthetic by combining hard and soft details — like sharp, asymmetrical edges; geometric patterns; and leather detailing, coupled with soft pastels and flowing skirts.
At age five, Faust started sewing her first garment: a tank top for her Barbie doll. Her passion and talent developed throughout her youth, due in part to a desire to create unique looks and to revamp hand-me-downs from her three older sisters. Faust went on to study art, earning a Bachelor of Arts in painting from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and an Master of Arts in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design — all while still designing and sewing as a hobby. The impenetrable nature of the industry kept her out of fashion until 2013, when seeing a charity fashion event inspired her to chase her dream of designing.
Interesting Fact: Creativity has always been about problem solving for Faust. She’s always aspired to create clothes that are unique and slightly unexpected, whether it be an unusual pattern, design element or cut. Her designs often make use of feminine silhouettes, pay homage to vintage and classic design elements and are injected with quirkiness and originality.
Jenkins is a recent graduate of LSU, where she earned a degree in apparel design, and she is now completing The New School Fashion Marketing program online. The premier of America’s Next Top Model ignited then nine-year-old Jenkins’ passion for fashion. She designs to dress the busy, polished and young professional working woman. Her designs are intended to suit the hectic lifestyles of these women, seamlessly taking them from a day in the office to a night on the town.
Interesting Fact: Jenkins had aspirations to be a model, but her petite frame hindered that dream.
Hardiman began dressing up and dressing others at a young age, which helped her quickly discover a deep love for fashion. This natural fervor, coupled with her grandparents’ ties to the fashion industry, helped Hardiman realize the next logical step in her fashion journey — design. She took her first sewing class in high school, and the rest was history. A recent graduate from the University of Alabama, Hardiman studied apparel and textile design, and art digital media. Her fashion style gives classics a modern, fresh twist, and her design philosophy is simple: “to flatter the female form timelessly throughout the seasons.”
Interesting Fact: Hardiman’s family unknowingly influenced her; she grew up watching her grandmother sew, and she played with a treasured family heirloom — a spinning wheel.
Dean’s family has been a major source of knowledge and inspiration in her fashion journey. Her grandmother taught her how to sew at a young age, and those skills came to the forefront about three years ago when she created her first garment, a pair of trousers, on a slow day in her specialty fabric shop. Her aunt, who Dean describes as an independent trendsetter who broke society’s mold for women, is a major influence. She experienced her aunt’s journey through family stories, letters and photographs.
Interesting Fact: Dean was voted best dressed during her senior year in high school, wearing a unique style of what she says, “[included] wild prints, gaudy watches and stupid high heels — walking a fine line on dress code.”
Currently a senior at LSU, Hogan is concurrently studying textile science, and apparel design and merchandising. Her resume is full and flourishing with fashion experience, ranging from fashion design internships with Southern Marsh Collection and Elaine Turner to a field study fashion industry course in New York City. Hogan’s aesthetic is classic and feminine. “My garments tend to focus on tiny details, angry lines, refined wit, textural elements and bright colors,” she says.
Interesting Fact: In addition to those amazing professional experiences, Hogan has photographed and designed for Tiger People Clothiers, Victoria’s Secret PINK at LSU, athletic teams and Mardi Gras krewes in Southwest Louisiana.
A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Warren chased her passion for fashion to the University of Alabama, where she graduated with a degree in apparel and textile design. She is greatly inspired by music, constantly dreaming up fresh, new designs when listening to her favorite tunes. Her purpose as a designer is to construct beautiful garments “that fuel women with a strong sense of empowerment, confidence, strength and style,” she says. Warren’s design goal is to create pieces that exude strength, confidence and power. Most pieces involve a classic silhouette with an attention-grabbing detail. She loves bold, regal colors, which are often included her aesthetic.
Interesting Fact: As a little girl, she would use her grandmother’s paper towels to make dresses for her Barbie dolls.