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Beyond the crown: Miss Dillard’s fashion designs win first place during New Orleans Fashion Week

By John Lawson II, managing editor
On October 18, 2019

File photo provided by Bryson Thomas/Courtbouillon
Brianna Thomas (left) proudly takes the stage as her "self-portrait" designs are shown off on the runway during the Emerging Designers competition Thursday, Sept. 26 at New Orleans Fashion Week, held at New Orleans Board of Trade.

NEW ORLEANS (October 18, 2019) –Brianna Thomas, the 84th Miss Dillard who will be crowned this weekend, has expanded her renown beyond campus with a win during New Orleans Fashion Week as the top Emerging Designer.

The senior business administration major from Luling won the competition Sept. 26 at the New Orleans Board of Trade on Magazine Street. As the first-place winner, Thomas won a Project Runway Brother sewing machine, a Microsoft Surface Book Pro and retail space in Wear NOLA on Magazine Street, in which she is currently working on her collection to be sold in the store.

Thomas, who showed 10 outfits in the “Ready to Wear” style category, competed against seven other designers to win top place. She said the opportunity arose through her membership on the Canal Place Style Board, where her design work was noted by Tracee Dundas, founder of New Orleans Fashion Week.

“[Dundas] saw some of my designs on the Canal Place Style Board during the Dress Fete in 2018,” Thomas said. “She was blown away and suggested that I enter the upcoming competition to be held the following year.”

After sending in photos of her work and describing how she likes to express her creativity to complete the application process, in February, Thomas began brainstorming, sketching and creating the designs that would win first place in the competition seven months later. She said more than 200 hours went into bringing the designs to life.

Thomas used a self-portrait theme to create the designs, reflecting fashions she said she would want to wear herself and “inspired by things I like, such as floral motifs and bright colors.”

“As an artist, I also wanted to use hand-painted aspects in lots of my pieces.”

Final touches were added up to 30 minutes before the start of the competition, and she said she didn’t sleep the night before because of her excitement.

Reflecting on all the hard work it took to win, Thomas said the effort was worth it.

“This was my first professional fashion show, and it was such a great experience for me,” she said.

“I was glad to be able to share my talents with others and showcase the talent God has given me, and I am grateful to my family, friends and Dillard community for always supporting me in anything I do.”

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