Fashion designers help women dress for success with runway show

Model Shannon Terry, left, and designer Samantha Jean Moore walked the runway at Recycle the Runway Thursday.
Model Shannon Terry, left, and designer Samantha Jean Moore walked the runway at Recycle the Runway Thursday. Lexington Herald-Leader

Plastic bottles, a coat from the 80s and a colorful sweater reminiscent of the type comedian Bill Cosby wore on The Cosby Show were featured on the runway as trendy fashions at the Recycle the Runway fashion show last week at The Grand Reserve hall.

Eight local designers were challenged to create a fashionable design using a bag of what was termed "unsuitable clothes, accessories and other donated items" from Dress for Success Lexington.

The nonprofit that helps provide professional clothing to women in need for job interviews. The fashion show was a fundraiser for the organization which opened its doors Oct. 1 in the Eastland Shopping Center. The event, luncheon and silent auction raised about $20,000, said Amy Wickliffe, Recycle the Runway chairperson.

The winning fashion design was created by Maui Crane of Maui Crane Designs. Crane brought two designs to the competition: the first a brown textured cocktail dress inspired by Ralph Lauren's casual style and the second a galaxy dress inspired by Givenchy.

The brown dress was once a Ralph Lauren sweater from seasons ago, Crane said. He wanted to bring it to this year's style so he Removed the sleeves and cut a deep scoop in the back of the dress. The garment was almost unrecognizable from the oversized sweater it once was.

To add flair and texture to the design, Crane draped gold chain that was once part of an old purse, along the back and front of the dress. He finished the look with a pair of gold studded heelless platform shoes and a matching gold cuff.

Crane's second design was a gypsy look. Crane took apart what was once an old hot pink dress he found in his "unsuitable clothing" bag and hand painted the purple, pink and blue galaxy print over the top of the dress.

What surprised many about Crane's designs was his use of unconventional materials to create his accessories.

The black cuff on the model's wrist was made of a plastic bottle; rings were made from old chandeliers; and the collar of the galaxy dress was constructed from the sleeves and fabrics of an old cardigan he found in his bag.

Still, Crane's looks weren't the only ones that surprised the audience. Third place winner Joanna Haberman's Asian inspired dress featured a refurbished coat from the 80s as a crop jacket. Second place winner Samantha Jean Moore said she used a black T-shirt discolored by bleach and a pair of khaki pants as the fabric to create her dress.

Judge Betty Spain, owner of Bella Rose boutique, said what she and the other judges were looking for in a winner was "wearability." One of the aspects that helped Crane win, she said, was his "incredible eye for textures."

"It is really incredible what a group of designers can do when you hand them a bag of clothes that are unsuitable," said Jennifer Monarch, cofounder of Dress for Success Lexington.

Although Dress for Success Lexington is concerned with properly outfitting women for job interviews, it does more, said Monarch.

"For women, so much of what we do has to do with how we feel and how we look," she said.

Cofounded by Monarch and Analisa Wagoner, Dress for Success Lexington provides the appropriate attire to obtain a job, but also teaches developmental tools to help clients maintain a stable and prosperous life.

Neshea Persley, Dress for Success Lexington's first client, gave her testimony of searching for a job and Dress for Success Lexington's involvement in that.

"When you look good you feel good and that's just what Dress for Success made me feel," she said.

Persley walked down the runway in a matching women's business suit, pink chiffon scarf and black business shoes.