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Texas Next Top Designer Gala Shows that Dallas Has a Fashion Scene, Really.

Last night, some of the state's most fashionable people descended on the Design District to celebrate original Texas fashion -- yes, it does exist. It was the fourth annual Texas Next Top Designer Announcement Gala at eM the Venue with a runway show featuring 20 designers from around the state.

An eclectic crowd -- Highland Park with Austin flair -- many in stilettos, several in bowties, mingled before the event, hosted by Texas Next Top Designer, a non-profit organization aimed at fostering local design talent. Most of the night's guests appeared as though they too should be walking down the runway; it was prime people-watching, a sea of beautiful summer dresses and creatively paired menswear.

The night's 20 featured designers were vying for a winning prize worth $30,000, including a trip to New York Fashion Week, a pop-up shop with their wares, branding services, and production expenses.

Austin-based Jewelry designer, Jeannie Vianney of ByJeannie Jewelry won the night's top honors. Judging by her collection, lovely enough for everyday wear and striking enough to garner abundant compliments, it's a fair bet that you'll be seeing her designs more often.

The night's runner-up was design duo, Ashlee Patton of Dallas and Isabel Varela of New Orleans who together form Varela + Brooks.

Using the Top Designer gala as a jumping off point, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau's PR team parlayed the event into a media tour of the Dallas fashion scene, and a reason to show fashion journos that, indeed, Dallas has a fashion scene, budding as it may be. The itinerary included: Hadleigh's custom clothier in Highland Park Village, the flagship Neiman Marcus (but of course), hatmaker House of MacGregor, designer Abi Ferrin's studios, and Piermarini Boutique.

Dallas fashion still stands in the shadow of Dallas shopping, but perhaps all of this is beginning to close that gap.

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Leslie Minora