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Fashion's Living Canvas Did Runway The Right Way

Music crested through the Hilton Anatole's lobby last night as the atrium filled with hundreds of well-primped cocktailers. The crowd puckered and kissie-faced for photos as they waiting for the main event, a six designer runway show, to commence. Above their heads hung a chromosomal-structured work of art that bowed, lifted and morphed like a sparkling amoeba made of crystal scaffolding.

Fashion's Living Canvas is a new event in Dallas' decadent fashion scene, one that was designed to stand out from the pack. It worked. Mechanically the show was stellar; the stage design -- an "E" shaped platform with water in the negative space -- was beautiful and gave the clothing more time for presentation than the elongated diving boards used at most shows, and the added effect of body paint achieved its goal of artistic extension without stumbling into gimmick territory.

The airbrushing was done by local painter Sharon Hodges; she took the final look presented by each clothing designer and manipulated it. For some outfits bits of the dress (like lacing or panels) were adhered to the models, so unless looking very closely you couldn't tell where the actual item ended and its painted portions began. It came out lovely and was well received -- no easy task in that room of seasoned fashion veterans. Living Canvas was more than a wildly elaborate, intricately organized runway show, it was also a fundraiser for the Fashionistas. (The group provides financial backing for young or would-be designers, assists with fashion scholarships and gives a platform to existing talent through showcases like this one.) It's a group with high standards for fashion and nightlife, and anyone attending would be hard-pressed to find a fault in the evening's presentation.

Four clothing and two jewelry collections were shown: IZAVEL by Isabel Varela had a particularly spectacular black, mid-calf-dusting trench dress, with a back panel that was streaked black and white, the way a newspaper's ink might run if caught in a drizzle. It was both dazzling and sophisticated; I want it. Melancholic Designs by Jesse Thaxton played lovingly with proportions, mixing animalistic, sky-scraping collars to coats that left us reminiscing of supper clubs in the '40s and '50s.

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Danh Ta's self-titled collection brought another must-wear outfit with a simple, but well-tailored ivory shell paired with a flirty black leather skirt. Most designers go ludicrous when using leather and the girls look more street walker than street wear, but Danh Ta thought it through. High-waisted and movement-rich, the garment hit the model mid-thigh -- any woman would covet that skirt.

Society Language by Prashi Shah closed out the show, and did so correctly by sending look after look of beautiful, desirable dresses. The shiny updated caftans winked back to '60s Vogue while still keeping it fresh and young, and the color choices for the cocktail dresses were unmatched. From shimmery pinks and soft tones to chartreuse with green accents, the pallet was refreshing. And the tailoring? Immaculate. I have no doubt that we will see each of these designers again. Let's just hope it's soon.

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