Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the whos and whys.
By Michelle Foster
Planted in Dallas and blossomed in New York, Lucy Dang is back to her Texas roots and making a name for herself in the fashion world. Designed to "unveil a woman's alluring character while showcasing her natural beauty," her beautiful dresses have an unmistakable, unique charm in their threads. Her clothing exudes a jaw-dropping elegance. Some of the pieces are geared for higher-end wedding guests, while most are more formal, floor-length gowns fit for the most sophisticated of ladies. Her Fall/Winter 2014 collection is bold and romantic, featuring royal purples and monochromatic blacks.
In 2013, Lucy was the winner of Texas Next Top Designer and Belk's Southern Designer Showcase. The folks at Lucy Dang Dallas built their business on a shoestring budget, and the company is growing rapidly, headed quickly toward their ultimate goal: to become a household name in the South.
What led you to become a fashion designer? When I was three years old, I remember getting this gorgeous fluffy powder blue dress for Christmas. At that time I didn't know it, but the seed was sown for me to grow up and want to create beautiful things. I hope my creations give other women as much joy as I got from my blue dress that Christmas.
What fashion designers do you admire? I really admire my old bosses Rebecca Taylor and her business partner Beth Bugdaycay. They pooled their resources together when they were young and just went for it. I too have a business partner named Blanca Renteria. We met in middle school, and she and I knew after college that we would go into business together one day. We get into trouble together sometimes, but it takes two heads to come up with new ideas and ways to run a successful company. She is the best Ethel any Lucy could ask for.
How did you design to start your own brand? I love to create beautiful things and I did that while working for other renowned designers in New York City, such as Nicole Miller and Rebecca Taylor. I spent my younger years up in the Big Apple learning and honing my design skills, but in 2011, I just felt it was right to return home to start my own label. Maybe it was nostalgia to be back in the South, to be closer to family and old friends. I grew up here in Dallas. They say you can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl. So that's how Lucy Dang Dallas came to be.
What inspires you as a designer? Do you get ideas from other mediums of art? I get my inspirations from a good story. Every season my team and I brainstorm on what kind of story we want to tell for the new collection. This helps us gather images and sets the mood for our designs.
Can you give us a preview of the ideas behind your Fall 2014 collection? The Fall 2014 collection was so much fun to do and it has an interesting story behind it! Last September, my team and I took a sales road trip throughout the east coast. In the car, someone started telling a ghost story involving witches and on a whim we decided to make a side trip to Salem Massachusetts. We were so inspired by the sad but hauntingly beautiful town and it's history that it became the inspiration for our collection. Each of the dresses in that season is named after a famous witch!
What are the pros and cons of working in the Dallas fashion scene? The pros definitely outweigh the cons. For instance, there is less competition here and someone new has more of a chance to shine. Also, everyone in the industry in Dallas is so open to helping a young brand succeed. We've had tremendous support from the board of Texas Next Top Designer and The Fashionistas. Not to mention, the support from The Dallas Observer throughout the years. Last year we were incredibly stoked to find out we were named 'Best Fashion Label' by your publication.
The only real 'con' is us being so far away from New York City, where the heart of fashion happens in America. We have to travel there almost every month for business related issues versus if we were there, and can make a decision immediately.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you've faced? I would say funding is our biggest struggle. It takes an average of a quarter million to launch a fashion line. A lot of sacrifices have been made throughout our journey, but we're at the point in the business where it is growing and becoming successful. Belk was a huge win for us this year when they carried us in their Flagship stores. We now have about a dozen accounts but we are looking for investors interested in taking us to the next level.
What advice do you have for aspiring creatives? I would say that the world needs them. It's not easy to follow your dreams but if you persevere, it will lead you to your ultimate goal one day. All roads lead to Rome as they say.
100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris
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