Designer Audra Danielle Noyes of the fashion firm Audra has won the “Pinned! Designer Chess Challenge” for creating a classic pin-striped blazer and a silk taffeta Swarovski crystal gown — specifically for a grand master.
Noyes was one of six emerging designers from the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator participating in the contest. They were paired with six chess grand masters to create two chess-inspired garments — a practical and comfortable “uniform” piece for tournament play, and a whimsical style that celebrated the sport.
Noyes said her blazer was designed for both men and women. “The sample produced was female, but my sketches in my presentation highlighted the easy adaptations for the male version,” she said.
Her gown was inspired by the diagonal movements of the bishop, the straight moves of the rook and “the elegance and fantasticalness” of the queen, Noyes explained.
Her winning chess “uniform” was chosen by a panel of judges including New York-based designer Timo Weiland, research chair of fashion at Parsons School of Design Dr. Hazel Clark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch fashion editor Debra Bass, chess grand master Eric Hansen, and Macy’s director of global forecasting Abbey Samet.
It was revealed last week at the Windows on Washington event space in St. Louis’ garment district during the opening ceremonies for the Sinquefield Cup international chess tournament at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.
In addition to receiving recognition for her chess-inspired designs, Noyes received a $10,000 cash prize to either further her education or her career. Her designs will be exhibited starting Oct. 5 at the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis.
The competitors are all considered emerging designers. For the contest, they received ideas and input from the chess masters, and together they Skyped and communicated by phone. A couple of the designers even learned to play chess.
Noyes was paired with chess master Maurice Ashley. The other competing designers — Agnes Hamerlik, Allison Mitchell, Charles Smith 2nd, Reuben Reuel and Emily Brady Koplar — were paired with grand masters Alejandro Ramírez, Fabiano Caruana, Cristian Chirila, Nazí Paikidze-Barnes and Jennifer Shahade, respectively.
The design contest was organized by the World Chess Hall of Fame and the Saint Louis Fashion Incubator, which provides stipends, free studio space, sales support and mentors in a two-year residency.