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The Search for Texas' Next Top Designer: The Top 20 Finalists
by Jamie Baker 30 Mar 2011

Judges narrow down the list to 20 finalists from around the Texas fashion world. Guest blogger Jamie Baker tells how you can meet the contestants.


Guest blogger Jamie Baker is an attorney with Thompson Coe and a past board member of Texas Next Top Designer.

After an in-depth review of all of the contestants’ scores and samples, the judges announced the Top 20 Finalists for the 2011 Texas Next Top Designer Competition last week.  Board member Teresa Nguyen sent out emails to the lucky 20 to offer congratulations and to give competition instructions for the next round of judging.  Meanwhile, Board member Diane Reeves placed encouragement calls to the remaining contestants who had tried for the coveted spots.  These folks were urged to keep working and invited to try again next year.

The Texas Next Top Designer Facebook page turned into a wall of excitement for the designers who made the cut.  Here is the complete list of the Top 20:

1.                  Sarah Jones of Status Design Studio

2.                  Jessica and Jason McMahon of Lilah Gabriel

3.                  Carissa Brown of Carissa Rose

4.                  Darian Thomas and Jessica Sharp of Haute DJ

5.                  Ashley Patton and Isabel Varela of Varela & Brooks

6.                  Marie Burns

7.                  Ann Hoang

8.                  Jeannie Vianney of By Jeannie Jewelry

9.                  Charmaine Marshall of Charmaine Marshall Designs

10.              Lauren Polt of Chicka-D Collection

11.              Ashley Burghardt of Ashard Richley

12.              Elizabeth “Leesie” Pool of Hex Chromosome

13.              Julie Michel of Julie Michel Designs

14.              Dorris Bogus of Kamit Apparel

15.              Blanquita Sullivan and Tara Pettinato of Bonjour Biqui

16.              Anthony Muelle of Hueso Outlaw

17.              LaDaska Powell of ladaskamechelle

18.              James Martinez of Baron & J

19.              Gladys Bowie-Young of Miss Jane Design

20.              Johnna Sheppard of Blessed

This diverse group of finalists includes designers of women’s contemporary sportswear, jewelry, separates, day and evening dresses, and men’s modern shirting among other things.  The Top 20 are some of Texas’ best emerging designers and represent various educational backgrounds, ages, cultures, and styles.    At this point, it’s anyone’s prize to win.

Before the next round of judging takes place, the Top 20 Finalists’ Trunk Show will be held to give the public a chance to meet these extraordinary designers in person and purchase goods from the collections.  The trunk show will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at Global Fashion News, 3005 Commerce Street, Dallas, Texas 75226 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  This event promotes the sale of local work and also allows the judges to observe the finalists’ capabilities in a retail environment.

As far as the designers are concerned, it’s crunch time.  The final round of judging will take place in a few weeks.  After that, the competition winner will be announced at the Texas Next Top Designer Gala event to be held in late May or early June.  The venue and event sponsors are still under consideration.  For up to date information, follow the competition on the organization’s website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube.