Dec 1, 2023

Pensacola Project Runway: Gallery night showcased local designers in October

TOP: Flanked by models in her designs is native Pensacola designer Heather Ensley. ABOVE: Sophia Kowalczyk (center) inherited her love for sewing and creating from her grandmother.
TOP: Nancy Butler, Lemonbright designer, (left) uses recycled materials for her creations. ABOVE: Designer Danielle Koren (center) shows off two of her unique headpiece designs during the show.

A month’s delay due to rain in September didn’t dampen the fun of Gallery Night’s Art of Fashion on Friday, October 20. Five local creators competed for the title of best fashion designer in the Pensacola Project Runway contest, and Adrien McFarland of Eye of Newt took away top honors for the night. His work will be featured in a 2024 issue of Bella.

“The theme of the night was ‘Sand to Sassy,’ so I went for a beach/ocean inspired design,” McFarland said.

He created similar but “still somewhat polarized” designs and had no idea how they would be received.

WINNING DESIGNERAdrien McFarland (center), winning Pensacola Project Runway designer, will have his designs showcased in a 2024 Bella fashion feature.

“I wanted to be resourceful in my use of materials, so I repurposed clothing I already had. Both designs feature shirts turned into skirts and pants/shorts turned into shirts, and all stitching was done by hand,” McFarland explained. “Winning made all the stress I went through in the designing process seem worth it, so I’m really grateful things worked out the way they did.”

Judges were Allison McCrory (Bella Magazine), Tammy Gulac (Two Times a Lady Bridal Shop) and Charles Gibson (A Different Swag). Contestants submitted two designs each that were judged based on creativity, quality of design and styling for the show.

Event sponsors were Zarzaur Law, P.A., Bella Magazine and Escape Wellness Spa.

Emcee Heather Madison wore a special outfit for the occasion. The spectacular train was donated by Two Times a Lady formal and bridal shop and was designed by Madison and Gulac to honor the spirit of the evening and Zarzaur’s sponsorship. It was then hand painted by B. Ray Pennington of GeekVision Productions.

Madison was truly wowed by the local designers and their creations.

“I would have worn an outfit in every collection,” she said. “I am sure it was a hard decision for the judges.”