Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Beth Church Wins FGI Rising Star Award

Our designers keep knocking 'em dead! Congratulations to Beth Church on her Rising Star Award for her beadwork in the accessories category.

Fashion Group International Rising Star Awards
by Joel Lyons

Fashion might be an area that most have never contemplated as being Art, but think about it, what better canvas is there than the human frame?

“I definitely consider what I do as Art,” says Jennyvi Dizon. Dizon recently had her artistic endeavors recognized during the Rising Star Awards. Her bridal gown designs won her the honor of being the winner in the apparel category at the third annual event sponsored by the Arizona chapter of Fashion Group International, Inc.

“I’m still taking it in, I didn’t think I would win,” Dizon says, “I was competing against a lot of good talent.

The FGI Rising Star Awards seek to recognize up-and-coming designers such as Dizon in the areas of apparel, accessories and interior design. Originally started by the FGI’s New York chapter, their event served as the model for the show in Arizona. Contestants go through two rounds of the application process before the winners are announced after at the awards’ fashion show and design showcase display.

“It brings attention to talent that should be recognized,” says Stephanie Edge, an evening gown designer and recipient of a Rising Star Award last year. Edge is adamant about making the fashion scene better in Arizona.

“I love fashion, and anything that helps boost people here’s appreciation, I’m for it,” she says of the awards.

The appreciation continues to build as the artists’ creativity evolves. Beth Church, who won a Rising Star Award this year for her beadwork in the accessories category, is “kind of a romantic” and made jewelry for her dolls when she was a child. Her grandmother was a model, but Church didn’t start design until her children got older.

“I had always collected vintage jewelry,” she says. “I went to Europe and found vintage jewelry. I love unusual trinkets; they’re so much more interesting to me than new stuff.” The History Channel is a source for many of her designs. “I watch it while I’m doing my work,” she says. Church is a fan of different time periods like the Renaissance. She searches the mall and eBay to get a theme going in her mind and holds on to trinkets she finds for future use.

“When I find good pieces, I think ‘how can I make them relevant so someone could use them,’” she says. She may use the unusual pieces that she finds by attaching them to a modern trend such as layered necklaces. Before that, the components may find themselves inspiring her while she sleeps.

“I carry [everything] in a black velvet bag and put it under pillow,” she says. “My designs come to me at night or in the morning, so then I’ll go and put it together. If I think of something at 3 in the morning, I get up, work on it until I get done, because if I put it aside I feel like I might lose some of those little ideas.”

“When I have an idea I like to do it right away, but sometimes it’s hard depending on the orders I have,” says Kate Groves, FGI’s award winner in 2005 in accessories for her handbag designs. Groves was also a judge during this year’s competition.

“Designing new things takes longer than doing what you already know and you have to fit it into process,” she says, but Groves admits that on occasion, her idea for a new handbag might move to the front of the pack.

“A lot of my ideas are inspired by other fashion that’s out there,” she says. Her clientele consists of boutiques shoppers, her online presence, and word-of-mouth from her supportive friends and family.

“Whenever I go to events at [my daughter’s] school or to lunch with friend, I’ll always bring something new and ask their opinion,” she says. “The more opinions you have, the better. I’ll also stick things on my website to gauge approval, too.”

Christopher Natale has a harder time of carrying around his designs. He specializes in the competition’s third category, interior design. As a Rising Star Award winner in 2005, Natale finds sketching his designs by hand helps him flesh out his idea before turning it into a reality.

“I’ll have as many as 100 thumbnail sketches that each take a minute or as little as 30 seconds,” he says. The multiple drawings help him determine the measurements of his custom-built furniture. Natale specializes in taking contrasting exotic woods and blending them into one piece, such as a nightstand or an end table. He also designs lamps. His design inspirations come from a variety of objects such as machinery and sail boats, focusing not just on looks, but also functionality. He, just like every one of the ladies, was quite shocked when they won in their respective categories and years.

“I actually entered the competition last year,” Jennyvi Dizon says, but the disappointment of not winning last year was another push to innovate her style. Since she loves designing wedding gowns, she includes a little splash of color that jazzes up the traditional garments. “I didn’t know how it would go,” says Dizon, who acknowledges that she appreciates the recognition she received from the FGI.

“Does it stop being Art?” The words of Stephanie Edge ponder the question of whether or not she considers designing a form of Art. “When I put in those big hour weeks, my art and business mix. Since I’m a business owner I have to look at with both sets of eyes. I started as artist,” she says, “so the combination is equal. If I had to choose one over the other, I’d say I was an artist first.”

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