AP NEWS

FASHION SE Texan joins the style elite

March 3, 2019

Bria Evans left her hometown of Beaumont to study fashion at the Art Institute of Dallas, watched her class of 20 dwindle to three before she received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and even went on to showcase in Houston X Fashion, but — after it all — she quit designing last year.

“I felt like I had to put it on the back burner while I was in Beaumont,” she said. “I didn’t get the exposure I felt I needed, and I just didn’t see myself being able to leave.”

Evans said she put away her designs and was searching for what might come next, helping out her mom back in Beaumont, until she received an email last November that changed everything.

London-based Oxford Fashion Studio reached out to Evans to let her know representatives had reviewed her work from previous shows, along with about 4,000 other potential candidates, and wanted her to join a handful of young designers for their presentation at New York Fashion Week in September.

Evans will be participating in New York Fashion Week’s Women’s Spring and Summer event, where designers will be displaying their latest lines for the beginning of 2020.

Since the invitation, she has been working on her patterns for the designs she will have to show potential buyers for retailers and boutiques across the world, but there is also another challenge she is gearing up to face.

Evans will need to raise around $9,000 to participate in New York Fashion Week alone. She has also been invited to book with OFS for shows in Milan and Paris in 2020, but Evans said she is looking at one step at a time.

Not sweating the unknown and persevering has become a part of Evans’ style, even making its way to the name of her clothing line. She said Dignified Women’s Apparel was formed around the idea of her favorite Bible verse, Proverbs 31:25: “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

“It’s just who I feel like I want my customer to be,” Evans said. “I want them to feel confident and live life knowing who they are. Clothes have an impact, whether we love them or not.”

The women in her life who taught her dignity and strength are also the people Evans said inspired her to sew her first stitch. She said she first caught interest in creating clothes from her aunt who recruited her to help with her costume design for community plays.

She said her parents also helped encourage her to follow her talents.

“It was the opposite of what most parents would be like when their kid says they want to be an artist,” Evans said. “I was always that child. Our teacher had us draw animals, and I drew a whole forest with the animals all detailed. They knew that was the path I would go down.”

When Evans decided after high school that she would try a more practical path by going to veterinary school at Louisiana State University, her parents were questioning but supportive. After about a year, Evans said she realized being a vet probably wasn’t for her and set her eye toward design school, but the transition wasn’t so simple, even with her parents’ support.

Having grown up in Beaumont, she said she placed herself in a shell and didn’t wear the clothes she would have preferred for fear of being judged. When she started at the Art Institute of Dallas, she said she felt like she had some catching up to do.

“A lot of the people I went to school with were from places that encouraged the arts and had opportunities in high school to get started,” Evans said. “For the most part, it was the matter of getting out of my own head. That’s where I am at right now. Let your work speak for itself and don’t worry about where you are from.”

After four calendar-year semesters of perfecting techniques and honing her own style, Evans said she has found her own way to express her vision through her clothes.

Evans is working with a style inspired by architecture, taking sketches and concept photos of structures and turning them into streetwear or business formal outfits. One of her creations uses hexagonal pillowing and monochrome colors to turn a dress into a 3D mosaic.

Evans still has some work ahead of her and money to raise before September, but she said it still feels like those late nights she spent pouring over sketches, listening to music and creating whatever she felt like.

“It doesn’t really feel like work,” Evans said. “Maybe at some point it will, but it hasn’t got there yet.”

jacob.dick@beaumontenterprise.com

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