DALLAS — The Dallas Design Initiative, an association of young Texas designers, has earned the backing of Absolut Vodka.
The liquor company is providing funds for a cocktail reception and runway show of styles by DDI members March 23 at Mega Market at the International Apparel Mart.
Wayne Feldman, regional marketing manager for Absolut Vodka and the House of Seagram, said he learned about DDI from a newspaper article.
“I thought Absolut could help them put on a really nice show and help some of them get discovered,” Feldman explained. “We just wanted to give the association a little help.”
He pointed out that Absolut has a long history of supporting emerging artists and designers and commissioning works by them.
DDI has staged several fashion shows here during past markets, but this will be the first one that highlights only designers who are prepared to wholesale their lines. It also will be the first one held in the Mart’s Fashion Theater with professional lighting and sound systems.
“We want to get buyers in there to see young, new talent,” said Larry Lott, a spokesman for DDI.
Ten Texas designers will each show 10 looks at the presentation, which will also feature 10 outfits created for Absolut Vodka by top designers, including Helmut Lang, Martine Sitbon and Richard Tyler.
In addition, Absolut Vodka will present the first Absolut Initiative award for contributions to the fashion industry to Michael Faircloth, a talented local designer who makes custom ready-to-wear from his atelier at the Lilly Dodson boutique in Highland Park Village. Fifteen of Faircloth’s styles will be modeled in the show.
Slated to appear on the runway are: Property of the Universe’s easy dresses and sportswear, Boleyn Design’s better sportswear, Jeffrey Marion Lee’s forward sportswear, Lori Deming’s relaxed sportswear, Karla Kay Steen’s tailored sportswear and dresses, Melissa Anee Rodriguez’s forward evening wear and suits, Jacqueline LaRose’s career sportswear and dresses, Sherry Pence Bryant’s formalwear and wedding dresses, Laura Bezona’s clean, modern sportswear and eveningwear and Jamie Altom’s nightclub clothes.
Some of the designers have been in business for a year or more, others are making their first attempt at wholesaling.
A jury of DDI board members selected those 10 designers based on sketches and biographies submitted by more than 50 people, Lott explained.
Open to all buyers, the cocktail reception begins at 5 p.m. March 23 in the Fashion Theater, with the fashion show to follow at 6 p.m. The DDI formerly held similar events in a vacant showroom provided by the Mart. That room has been reclaimed for use by the Dallas Market Center, but DDI still has a smaller space at the Mart in room 1A05.
The DDI has other projects on its agenda. It plans to open a cooperative shop in mid-March with designer Sandra Garratt in the storefront of her design studio at 2910 Commerce St. in the Deep Ellum neighborhood.
“I’ve been itching to have a store,” Garratt said. “I pitched the idea to DDI, and they said they’ve been waiting for something like this. It will help them to keep cash flow going and help them do what they want to do, and I can do little fun groups. It will promote Dallas designers and hopefully help keep them here without them wandering off to New York or Los Angeles.”
It wasn’t determined at press time which designers would participate in the new store, which is expected to be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
DDI also hopes to create a business incubator in Dallas with support from the city and is working on a proposal for funding. The group, which was started in July, 1994, has 60 members.

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