Tag Archives: designer

Agustin Delgado

June 12, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Agustin Delgado is humble when talking about his work, yet when you see his red-carpet-worthy designs walk the runway, you would never guess the man behind these ethereal, bold looks is quite shy.

Growing up with his great-grandmother, Victoria Hernandez, in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Delgado got his first taste for fashion at an early age. Hernandez was a seamstress who created and designed hand-sewn embroidered home goods and clothing. Her son, Delgado’s great-uncle, was a tailor. The two shared a design studio where Agustin was immersed in both womens and menswear.

At only 8 years old, Delgado left Mexico and his great-grandmother to be reunited with his parents in the United States in search of the American dream. Now 38 years old, he is a first-generation American, and for the last 16 years he’s called Omaha home.

A self-taught fashion designer, Delgado had his “aha” moment in junior high while learning how to sew in home economics. He stayed after school to get one-on-one lessons on patternmaking and fitting from his teacher, who later became his mentor.

The years between junior high and college were some of the most trying in Delgado’s life. When his family’s visa expired, the paperwork for Delgado and his siblings was lost in the immigration bureaucracy. This setback restricted the opportunities he could pursue, and ultimately led to him putting his dream on hold.

In 2014, he and his fiancee hired “an outstanding immigration attorney.” In a matter of a few weeks, his 25-year-long struggle to become a citizen finally came to an end. He’d made it. 

Fortunately, he always kept sewing as a hobby. Many friends told Delgado he had the talent to be a fashion designer. He wasn’t so sure they were right until he started taking classes at Metropolitan Community College for fashion design last year and his dream was made new again.

“Now I have all this time that I lost because of my citizenship status, and I want to do everything I wasn’t able to do,” Delgado says. “It’s never too late to try something new, follow your dreams, and try to reach them.”

This spring, Delgado took a significant step toward living his dream. He showed in, and won, Omaha Fashion Week’s Innovate Featured Designer Showcase. 

One of those friends he mentioned, Phillip McGuire, says he believes this is just the beginning for Delgado, who has made several pieces for McGuire’s drag alter ego, Phoenix Fallentino.

“His talent is endless. I think what’s so wonderful about him is he doesn’t reflect anyone, he’s truly himself,” McGuire says. “I told him after his Omaha Fashion Week runway show, his life is now changed.” 

While the win was certainly a lovely feather in his cap, Delgado considers himself more artist than fashion designer due to his love for art and for the garments he creates. Drawing inspiration from designers Alexander McQueen, Charles James, and Guo Pei, and artist Frida Kahlo, he takes his time creating hand-beaded haute couture and avant-garde pieces that simply wow.

He says he enjoys learning everything he can about previous eras and incorporates those fashion elements into his work by modernizing them to his taste and today’s society.

“The past itself is where the future is at,” Delgado says.

Since winning the showcase at Omaha Fashion Week this spring, Delgado’s confidence in his work and his voice as a designer has soared. His plans are to expand nation- and worldwide next year and eventually call Paris home.

To live amongst all the oldest fashion houses would be a natural fit for him. His great-grandmother found similar inspiration for her work after seeing Coco Chanel’s house in Paris.

“I’m a strong believer that one must understand the past to understand the future,” he says. “I got it from my great-grandma. She believed our mistakes make us the better person that we’re going to be in the future.”  

Makeup Artist: Natasha Patterson
Hair Stylist: Abigail Talkington
Set Stylist: Re’Chaun Styles
Models: Caitlyn Perman & Lena Makui


Visit amdelgado.com for more information about the designer. 

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Encounter. 

W. Dale Clark Library: A Reflection of Omaha

February 21, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Why  are  libraries  relevant? For Rem Koolhaas, international architect and designer of one of America’s premier libraries in Seattle, “in an age where information can be accessed anywhere, it is the simultaneity of all media and, more importantly, the curatorship of their content that makes the library vital.”

This compelling principle of curation—a thoughtful way of organizing and presenting content—is how the Omaha Public Library’s W. Dale Clark branch promotes free public access to multimedia information, programming, and assets inside and outside the four walls of  215 S. 15th St. The library’s architecture, in turn, is both a container for, and reflection of, the community of Omaha at large.
Omaha’s first permanent public library opened in 1877 at 18th and Harney streets. Designed by Thomas Kimball, it was Omaha’s first building dedicated solely to a public library. However, with a capacity of 46,000 books and drastically out of sync with modern needs, the library outgrew this historic building after World War II. Often referred to as “the worst library in America” and “the horror on Harney Street,” city and library officials began contemplating a new building and the role a new central library would have in defining the cultural core of Omaha in the late 1950s.

While some branches of the Omaha Public Library system are named after locations, others are named after prominent city leaders and/or major funders. The central library branch is named after W. Dale Clark, a long-time banker, civic leader, and Omaha World-Herald board member. It is no coincidence then that during the development of this new central branch, the Omaha World-Herald was often a soapbox for the library’s necessity as a cultural anchor. A June 9, 1957, article explained, “a library should offer the opportunity for enlightened citizenship and the continuing education and cultural advancement necessary to a working democracy.” This sentiment held true for W. Dale Clark as well.

Although Clark did not live to see the completion of his library branch, which began construction in 1975, the 124,500-square-foot Bedford limestone monolith opened on March 9, 1977. Architects John Latenser & Sons of Omaha designed the $7 million open-plan building to accommodate 350 patrons and 400,000 volumes (the current collection is 500,000+ volumes). The Omaha World-Herald defined the opening as “the greatest event in Omaha’s history.”

Little has changed architecturally to the branch since 1977, although its surroundings continue to take shape—the neighborhood is part of a six-block $15 million revitalization plan.

The striated five-story W. Dale Clark Library opens laterally east and west and features a 110-foot bridge on the west entrance that spans a parking moat below for 48 cars, special facilities for audio-visual materials, a large open atrium, contemporary art gallery, and significant art collection including Catherine Ferguson’s sculpture Totem and an Olga de Amaral tapestry. The central library maintains practical roles to store government documents, house the ever-growing genealogy department, and to be a repository for community history.

In a building nearly 40 years old, how has the Omaha Public Library advanced into the digital age—an age where traditional media is seen as almost cliché? The answer is quite simple: curated in-person programing.

The facilitators for this community-driven programing are the 78 library staff at the W. Dale Clark branch. With a web of knowledge and resources, Emily Getzschman, the marketing manager for OPL acknowledges, “the staff are our greatest asset.” They fulfill the library’s tagline “open your world” by connecting dots—many of which are obvious (GED training, citizenship assistance, computer training, and literacy classes) and others that seem more disparate (STD screening, a toy lending library, speed dating, a culinary conference, and facilitated conversations around contemporary topics) all under a major OPL tenet of non-discrimination. As Amy Mather, adult services manager, says, “the library allows a smooth transition where a barrier may be to connect people with ideas.” In many instances, the library is filling voids in the public domain with this free niche programming—all of which is community driven.

Since its beginning, some have questioned the role and need for the Omaha Public Library—a story that continues to play out today. These opposing views undermine the very role of the public library as a space to define, beyond hierarchies, the community of Omaha.

It is a privilege and right to use the Omaha Public Library, which is free and open to all of the public. Everyone and anyone has access to its curated network of resources. The potency of programming, outreach, and staff reverberates beyond its architecture and stated mission placing OPL at the frontier of relevancy. As Mather says, “this is your library.”
omahapubliclibrary.org/w-dale-clark-library 

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

From Paris, with Love

April 11, 2015 by
Photography by Laurie and Charles Photographs

Many little girls like to play dress-up, dreaming of a life on and around the catwalks. Wunderkind designer Kate Walz, the Millard North High School senior who just turned 18, never grew out of her playtime obsession.

Her lines have been featured at Omaha Fashion Week, Kansas City Fashion Week, and in an off-site event in conjunction with New York Fashion Week.

Walz was the only American designer invited to participate in the J Autumn Fashion Show, the first-ever fashion event held on the Eiffel Tower. The show took place in October and was an effort of London-based J Model Management.

Be Our Guest

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“They tell me, it’s up to you to change things out. We trust you.” Alex Ostblom, a landscape designer for Lanoha Nurseries, strolls across a newly transformed Westside lawn, naming flowers off the top of his head. Impatiens, begonias, mandevilla, and sweet alyssum are planted in great swaths of color, sweeping along sidewalk, driveway, and around to a brand-new back yard. Guests to the remodeled home might never suspect what the place looked like just a few months earlier.

Ostblom explains that the homeowners wanted a lawn that matched their refinished house’s new capabilities: to blend in with the rest of the stately neighborhood and to provide a perfect space to entertain family members and close friends. “Other than that,” he says, “they didn’t have too many particulars.” So Ostblom let his creativity loose, beginning the design process in March and construction in May. The entire project was completed by June 15.

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The first order of business was to redesign an unsightly retaining wall that led around the north of the house to the back yard. Originally made of concrete block, the five-foot wall created a tight alley between the house and a small mountain of unusable back yard. Its considerable height so close to the back of the house blocked off half of the dining and living room windows. A cramped patio made a stab at bringing hospitality to the space.

To simultaneously create a much less imposing wall while also making the yard itself usable, Ostblom removed tons of dirt to create tiers of lawn that allowed him to install a limestone wall less than two feet tall. The limestone complements colors in the house and can actually be found in the landscaping of nearby homes, bringing the property more into the neighborhood’s fold. Large blocks of the limestone accent the front and back yard, “giving the grandkids something to climb around on,” Ostblom points out.

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Thanks to the greatly shortened wall, guests in the dining and living rooms can enjoy a panorama of seasonal annuals (“One of the owners just loves lots of color,” Ostblom says), a rose cutting garden, and mature evergreens. “They wanted everything to look like it’d been there for years,” Ostblom says, so Lanoha Nurseries set field-grown spruce and conifers in place with machinery. “That’s a one-time deal,” he explains. “If the trees don’t take to this well, we can’t get the equipment back in here to put in more of that size.” So he’s monitoring their progress closely, already eyeing some barely noticeable brown needles on a spruce. “That one might be under stress from over watering.”

Frequent entertainment of friends and family meant the homeowners needed a large, welcoming space. In particular, they wanted a gas fire pit large enough where several people could comfortably gather. The idea of an L-shaped outdoor kitchen was tossed around, but the couple decided instead to place a simple grill out of sight around the home’s south corner to ensure that the fire pit remained their outdoor gathering place. A gas line leads from the house to the grill; no empty propane cans here.

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Ostblom notes that establishing such a mature landscape within six weeks calls for careful attention to how light will change over the seasons. Most of the yard is in at least partial shade, particularly in the front yard and to the north. To the northeast and east, the yard transitions into full sun. To cope with the variety of landscape elements (varying light, drainage, and plants with differing needs), Ostblom says he redesigned the home’s irrigation entirely. “They have turf, trees, annuals…it all requires different watering.” To facilitate easy maintenance by Lanoha Nurseries without disturbing the homeowners, Ostblom had the irrigation clock moved from inside the garage to just inside the gate in the backyard.

“I visit about once a month,” he says, though he admits he makes the rounds in the neighborhood frequently, checking in on this and other landscaping projects for any signs of trouble. “Communication. That’s the biggest part in making sure it all looks amazing.”

Big Names in Fashion Who Are Over 60

August 26, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

When we think of fashion, we think of designs for the young and beautiful.

However, when we hear the names of big designers, fashion editors, and stylists, we don’t think about how old they are! The reason for that is because they are, in a way, ageless. The word fashion means “of the times,” and people in fashion are of the times. Their hair may gray and their bodies might get sloppy, but fashion designers, directors, editors, stylists, and all of the creators involved tune into the times and project to the future. The older they get, the more they know, and the better they are. They work hard and very long hours. Travel for many may seem glamorous, but it’s often grueling.

Here are some of fashion’s biggest names, all still working and 60-plus years old:

  • Giorgio Armani brought his signature Italian style of menswear to America in the ’70s. Today he oversees the design of not only his menswear collections but also collections for women, the home, hotels, and more.
  • Christian Lacroix delighted fashionistas with his couture masterpieces in the ’80s and ’90s and just created a museum collection for Schiaparelli.
  • Vera Wang is busier than ever in a world of design far beyond bridal now.
  • Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, is the woman every designer wants to impress. Also at Vogue is Grace Coddington, who went from a ’60s and ’70s top model to a visionary as creative director of the magazine today.
  • Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani is almost 64.
  • Suzy Menkes, the most famous fashion reporter and journalist in the world, is almost 70.
  • Photo journalist Bill Cunningham is 84.
  • Donna Karan and Calvin Klein, both designers, are still active today and have expanded their empires beyond their dreams, I am sure.
  • Tim Gunn, the guy from Project Runway and Parson’s School of Design, is “The Word” to young designers. What he says is respected and taken as the best critique.
  • The Latin lady and gentleman of sophisticated American style, both years beyond 60, are Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta.
  • Diane von Fürstenberg, famous for the wrap dress in the ’70s, has a fashion business today bigger than ever.
  • Ralph Lauren, a man with an eye for class and timeless elegance, is still at work after brain tumor surgery.
  • Tommy Hilfiger hasn’t let age stop him. His business expands every season.
  • Karl Lagerfeld, the designer at Chanel and Fendi and for his own collections, turned 80 this year.
  • Valentino Garavani claims to have made an exit from his world of couture, but all say that, at 81, he remains involved.
  • Max Azria is the man responsible for all the fun, young, and adorable BCBG collections, and he’s 64.
  • Betsey Johnson, 71, and Vivienne Westwood, 72, are still creating edgy, fun, and rock-star-wild designs.
  • Norma Kamali, who made high fashion of sweatpants and shirts in the ’80s, is still designing fabulous swimwear and sexy, signature dresses and sportswear.
  • Those beautiful Manolo Blahnik shoes we all love are designed by a man who is 71.
  • I adore the creative genius of Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler’s understanding of structure and construction.
  • I just looked through 83-year-old Sonia Rykiel’s fall collection. It’s wonderful, ageless, timeless, and personal, with qualities that speak of a designer who understands women.

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a designer and image consultant to businesses and individuals. She designed clothes and products in Omaha and New York and ran a fashion advertising business in five states. She writes and speaks about image, fashion, art, and style. maryannevaccaro.com, invisibleapron.com

Style and Substance

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Nick Hudson first helped found Omaha Fashion Week (OFW) back in 2008, he says some people thought it was a bit of a joke. Six years later, no one’s laughing. During the first year, about 2,000 people attended the event to see creations by 12 designers; by the end of this year, 51 designers will have shown their work, with an estimated 8,000 people attending—and the event just keeps getting bigger and better.

Unlike fashion weeks in New York, London, and Paris, OFW isn’t just about all things sartorial. It serves as a platform for up-and-coming designers to learn about the fashion industry and introduce their creations to the public, all without having to pay a fee to participate. “A lot of designers come from wealthy backgrounds,” says Hudson. “[Making it in this industry] requires resources. The vast majority of our designers, though, come from limited means and challenging economic backgrounds. [With OFW], there’s no financial barrier.”

To this end, Hudson founded the Fashion Institute Midwest, a program that helps designers learn about all aspects of the fashion industry from developing their lines to getting them to the public. Designers apply online, specifying what they’d like to focus on and what they hope to get out of the program. Some want to enhance their opportunities for getting into top design schools; others hope to build their businesses.

Designer Joi Katskee upcycles items into new rock-n-roll pieces.

Designer Joi Katskee upcycles items into new rock-n-roll pieces.

Typically, 70-90 designers apply annually with 40-50 making the cut. The designers are all from the Midwest, coming from states like Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Ages range from as young as 13 to those in their early 30s. A selection panel consisting of nine fashion industry experts interviews the applicants. “Mainly, people audition to be a part of the show,” Hudson explains. Brook Hudson (Nick’s wife), who manages OFW’s day-to-day operations, adds, “The cool thing about the interviews is that the panel doesn’t just decide. We give the designers feedback on how to sharpen their focus and ideas. It’s a conversation.”

From there, designers work with OFW’s team of volunteer mentors to learn about the fashion industry. They receive expert advice on subjects such as where to get fabric, how best to show off designs, and how to pitch and promote their lines. They also participate in workshops or roundtable discussions focusing on topics like doing consumer research and how to broaden their appeal for retail markets. This forms the core of the program. “What people don’t realize,” Hudson points out, “is that there is constant mentoring and support taking place throughout the year behind the scenes.”

Rick Carey and David Scott (“The Style Guys”), Omaha fashion stylists and hair and makeup legends who have worked at fashion shows in New York, Paris, and Miami and at international photo shoots, became involved as panelists and designer mentors this past February. “The mentoring program is amazing. We help the designers get their collections together so [they] look fantastic,” explains Carey. “As Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame says, our job is to help the designers ‘make it work.’”

Designer Elda Doamekpo’s Elle brand is inspired by the movement of water.

Designer Elda Doamekpo’s Elle brand is inspired by the movement of water.

Scott adds, “From those original sketches on a piece of paper, no one realizes where designers go from there. You have to find the perfect seamstress who can sew that perfect zipper or perfect hook, someone who knows how to work with a specific type of fabric. We’re very much into the total look.”

Another critical component is finding the perfect models to showcase the collections. Alyssa Dilts, director of Develop Model Management, does the casting calls for OFW and works with designers to select models. “I compile the list, and the designers have a week to select [their models],” says Dilts, who has done some professional modeling herself. “I then finagle the schedule for them to coordinate and make sure the models are available.”

Equally important are all the other volunteers who make OFW possible. “The public has no clue about what’s involved,” says Scott. “They really don’t realize how many people it takes to put it on.”

Designer Hollie Hanash designs upscale children’s clothes.

Designer Hollie Hanash designs upscale children’s clothes.

Indeed, volunteers do everything from setting up and tearing down the catwalks, marketing the event, distributing press passes and VIP bags, coordinating the action backstage, and greeting and seating guests. Makeup artists and hairstylists similarly volunteer their time and talent. “We’ve got a great community of people involved who all donate their time and expertise,” says Hudson. “It’s unheard of. It’s a huge part of why we’ve been able to grow so fast. That’s why we’re able to keep building…Because of the community.”

What’s new and exciting for OFW this August? The six-night event will take place downtown in the Capitol District (10th & Capitol streets area) in a 30,000-square-foot space composed of one tent flanked by two smaller ones and after-party courtyards featuring DJs and live bands. Designers/artists Dan Richters and Buf Reynolds are collaborating to create a large-scale art installation through which people will enter the event. “It’s the first time we’re doing it. We’re graduating to a different level,” notes Hudson.

Given all this, it’s no wonder that in just six years, OFW has emerged as one of the top fashion weeks in the Midwest, one that attracts experts and designers from around the country. “It’s more than an event,” Brook proudly points out. “We’re on the verge of creating a new industry for Omaha.

Omaha Fashion Week takes place August 19-24. Tickets range from $30-70; Saturday Finale VIP tables (for 10) can be reserved for $1,000. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit omahafashionweek.com.

OFW SCHEDULE

Monday 8/19: Children’s Wear
Tuesday 8/20: Avant-Garde
Wednesday 8/21: Ready To Wear
Thursday 8/22: Evening Wear
Friday 8/23: Men’s & Swimwear
Saturday 8/24: Grand Finale Gala

Kate Walz

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kate Walz’s laid-back attitude serves her well in her line of work. At 16, she’s the youngest fashion designer to show at Omaha Fashion Week (a title she’s held since she was 13, as a point of interest). This past spring, she showed 27 dresses during New York Fashion Week as well. She’s also doing an independent studies course in textiles and design as a sophomore at Millard North. So. No pressure.

“She’s very chill,” says her mother, Jackie Walz. She recounts a moment from New York Fashion Week when their show was running late. “She was supposed to be the very last one, then they gave you, what, 30 minutes of warning?” Walz nods. “They were like, ‘Kate, you’re on next!’” Jackie recalls.

“I was fine with it, I guess,” Walz says. “I’m more likely to freak out if I don’t have a lot going on.”

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At New York Fashion Week, Walz showed selections from her three most recent collections: fall 2012, spring 2013, and fall 2013. She favors red and black but incorporated gray and champagne into her most recent pieces.

“I think people can go, oh yeah, that’s by Kate Walz,” Jackie says. “It’s all vintage-inspired, and the colors are so cohesive.”

Walz does always seem to turn to the 1960s for inspiration. “My last collection was inspired by New York in the ’60s,” she says. The key word here is “inspired.” “It’s not like I’m taking an exact dress from the ’60s and making it again. It’s inspired by it, more like little details and styling. Big bows on the neckline.” Her next collection is already brewing in her head, and her muses are famous ballerinas of the 1960s, such as Martha Graham and Natalie Makarova. Understandable, since Walz has studied tap, ballet, and pointe herself since she was 3.20130329_bs_9613_Web_2

You won’t find her making her own clothes, however. Really, who has time between receiving the Rotary Club of Omaha Student Excellence Award (only eight 10th graders receive it in the city) and being accepted into Millard North’s entrepreneurship program? Her own style is a mix of vintage and girly prep. “My favorite store is The Flying Worm downtown,” Walz says. “I’ve found a few cool vintage dresses there.” For her bag, she carries a Polaroid camera case from Back in Time. Given her dislike for pants and her fondness for red lipstick, Walz considers her personal style to lie somewhere between the 1950s and ’60s.

Designing collections may fall by the wayside after graduation. Walz has her eyes on either Parsons or the Fashion Institute of Technology, both in New York City. In the meantime, she’ll be continuing her trips to the Big Apple, this summer as spokesdesigner for Fashion Camp New York City.

A summer of mentoring young, future designers? It’s probably to Walz’s advantage that she’s so unflappable.

Here Comes the Bride

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Just as April marks the arrival of springtime, so, too, does it signal the beginning of wedding season—typically viewed as mid-April through mid-October—and the onset of “wedding fever” for many excited soon-to-be and wanna-be brides.

Regardless of whether your nuptials are a year away or far off in the distance, wedding season is a great time to attend Omaha bridal fairs and visit bridal boutiques, floral shops, and other wedding businesses in the metro and start making a list of all your must-haves for your special day. After all, creating your dream wedding takes time and planning—why not get started now?

To celebrate wedding season, we’re spotlighting three metro businesses that provide distinctive products and services for Omaha brides: gown boutique, Rhylan Lang; accessories vendor, Inez Gill; and floral service, Flowers for Special Occasions. All three are owned by local, young women who are not only on top of national trends, but in fact are leading the way in the Midwest with unique, high-end wedding fashions and accessories.

Rhylan Lang

The goal of upscale bridal boutique, Rhylan Lang, is simple—to make sure that each bride leaves with a dress that is as amazing as the memories created. “Every dress in the store is made from silk fabrics,” says owner Tracy Ponec, 29, of her unique collection. “If there is beading, it is Swarovski. If there is lace, it has intricate details. I want brides to be able to tell the difference in quality.”

Ponec, who has a joint degree in textiles and journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been working in the wedding gown industry for nine years. “In college, I [did] bridal alterations,” she says. “I never thought I was going to make a career out of it.”

After graduating, she moved to Kansas City. “I had done a few internships that were more in-line with fashion-related public relations, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for that in the Midwest.” But with years of bridal alterations experience on her résumé, she took a shot and applied to the highest-end bridal salon in Kansas City, even though they weren’t hiring. Of course, she got hired. She even had the opportunity to do some professional training in New York with bridal design teams for Vera Wang and Reem Acra. “The owner [of the salon] and I made a great team. I learned so much from him. A few months in, he told me he thought I was born to do this.”20130227_bs_7349 copy

When Ponec returned to Nebraska, she saw the bridal market with new eyes. “Knowing how many of my brides in Kansas City were from Omaha, it was pretty obvious there was something missing for these brides in the Nebraska market.” She worked a bridal position for a short time but then decided it was time to bring her vision to life. A few years later with a business plan in hand, Ponec opened Rhylan Lang.

The name “Rhylan Lang” is actually a play on Ponec’s maiden name, Rhylander. “There is part of me in the name, but [the brand] isn’t about me. It’s about the brides,” she says. Because she cares about her brides, Ponec wanted her gown collection—which starts at a range of $1,600 to $6,000—to be exclusive in the state. From there, it was important to that the dresses were the highest quality fabrics and finishes available at each price point.

“During an appointment, a professional stylist will help select gowns from our inventory based on what a bride is looking for and their budget. The experience here is more intimate and far less chaotic than brides are used to. It’s a pleasant change for those that have been shopping a lot.”

For more information, visit rhylanlang.com or call 402-933-3510.

Inez Gill

Courtney Zurcher, 24, got the itch to start her own accessories business after making scarves for her family and friends. Today, she is the owner and designer at her accessories business, Inez Gill. Since starting Inez Gill, Zurcher’s accessories have been featured in Omaha’s Wedding Essentials and on Daily Candy, an e-mail newsletter and website devoted to what’s new and hot. She’s even designing accessories for the Daily Candy editor’s wedding.

“Inez Gill actually came from a combination of family names,” she explains of her business’ name. “My grandfather’s mom, Inez, was the kind of woman who just painted everything. She even painted the fridge once. She was very eccentric. Gill was my grandmother’s last name. She was a traditional mom and did needlework to make clothing.” Zurcher likes the combination of Inez and Gill because “one was artsy and one was practical,” which is how she’d like to approach her business.

When it comes to weddings, more brides are willing to pay for high-end products that are unique. That’s where Inez Gill accessories come in. “Accessories have a lot of life because you can put it on and it will change an outfit completely,” says Zurcher, who recently displayed her work at Omaha Fashion Week. Most of Zurcher’s bridal accessories are for the brides who want really fun, colorful looks. “I want [my pieces] to feel like accessories from a 1920s hat shop down the street—things that tailors and seamstresses would custom-make.”20130227_bs_7349 copy

While most designers and bridal vendors ship in their accessories, Zurcher creates and designs each piece. “Some designers draw sketches, but I just think of what I have, and then I put it together. I do have to put a lot more thought into how I design an accessory though because I take so many different pieces and put them together. I have my own system, and I don’t buy anything pre-made, unless it’s like a vintage leaf or something.”

With suppliers coming from everywhere (even some out of England), Zurcher has a lot of unique pieces to work with in creating each accessory. Natural stemming, vintage leaves, rhinestones—she finds all kinds of items from her suppliers and antique shops. “I don’t really follow a particular style,” she says of her mix-and-match work.

But just because Zurcher makes her accessories by hand doesn’t mean they look handmade. In fact, she prefers to spend more time making each accessory have a high-end look, even if it takes her more than the usual three to five hours. “I just like making things that make people feel good.”

For more information, visit inezgill.com.

Flowers for Special Occasions

“We have a strong passion for floral design,” says Jessica Pitt, 29, owner and designer at Flowers for Special Occasions. “We are always reinventing our work to stay fresh and in touch with the ever-changing fashion of the [wedding] industry.”

Although Pitt studied Fine Arts at College of Saint Mary and Behavioral Sciences at Bellevue University, she says that the floral business is in her blood. With four generations of her family having been involved in florals, it was only natural for Pitt to take up the business. “I grew up in my mother’s flower shop, spending afternoons as a child playing in the shop and eventually working there from the time I was 15 through college.”

A customer actually gave the business its name. “We were trying to establish ourselves as a vendor who worked exclusively with weddings and other special events. The name just sort of stuck,” Pitt says. But the business is also known as the Flower Design Studio, which Pitt explains comes from their days as a co-op with two other businesses.20130227_bs_7197 copy

Pitt says Flowers for Special Occasions is unique because they custom-make floral arrangements. “None of our work is based on cookie-cutter bouquets,” she adds. “We work with the client to develop a special feel for the event, and we create our pieces based on our collaborations.” Budgets of all sizes are welcomed by the Flowers for Special Occasions team. It doesn’t matter if a couple is working on a small or large budget—Pitt says the floral arrangements will look beautiful.

“We have built a very loyal following through the years. We work primarily through word of mouth. I believe [that] our happy clients and their referrals are what has built and sustained our company, making it the success it is today.

“Since we are a family business, we all have a personal stake in wanting our business to succeed. We never cut corners,” she says. “We have one chance to get it right, so we always strive to give each wedding something very special.”

For more information, visit flowersforspecialoccasions.webs.com or call 402-891-1602.

Q&A: Amy Boesen

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a designer with Decor & You, Amy Boesen helps clients struggling with decorating dilemmas, frozen with indecision, or just facing empty space, create wonderful environments to work and play—and at any budget.

Q: What is Decor & You, and what services do you offer?

A: Decor & You is a national franchise based in Southbury, Conn. I am the owner/operator of a local franchise territory. Decor & You designers work with clients in their homes and commercial spaces to help them create spaces in which they love to live and work. Typically, clients work with us on projects that fall into the following broad categories: 1) color and finish selections and space planning, 2) window coverings and decorative window treatments, 3) accessorizing, which includes art/mirrors, lighting, area rugs, decorative accessories, and more, and 4) full room(s) design, including all of the above as well as furniture.

Q: Give some reasons why homeowners would hire a Decor & You consultant/designer? 

A: Some people call us because they have a fear of color and need an expert to show them the possibilities. Others hire us because they lack the time and expertise to tackle a decorating project and they fear making costly mistakes. Still, others have concern over the health of their families and the environment and want to work with a professional who is certified in green decorating practices. Many times people need a master plan so they can bring their decorating dreams to life one phase at a time. We listen very carefully to the needs of each client and we design a space unique to their needs and personality. There is no one “look” that typifies a Decor & You design. We’re rather chameleon-like in that way.Living Room After 3

Q: What career/work experience did you have prior to becoming a Decor & You franchisee/decorator?

A: My bachelor’s degree (from the University of Nebraska) is in Textiles, Clothing and Design with an emphasis in fashion design. After graduation, I decided to stay locally, and interior design was not a viable career choice in Omaha at that time. As such, I took a job with a printing company and five years later, began work with First Data Resources, where I spent the next 15 years. A round of corporate downsizing in 2003 gave me the opportunity to choose a second career, and I chose to revisit my creative roots by pursuing interior design.

Q: Why did owning your own Décor & You franchise appeal to you?

A: My husband will tell you that I like shiny things, so being surrounded by beautiful things was definitely a draw! This business allows me to marry my creative side with my background in client relationships and business management. It also allows me schedule flexibility so I can spend time with and enjoy family, church, friends, and community service organizations.MBR After 2 copy

Q: What education, training, and talents do you offer as a designer? 

A: Aside from my bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Clothing and Design, I am a Certified Interior Decorator, a Green Accredited Professional, a Certified Color Expert, and a Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Specialist. My talent lies in seeing the potential in every space and each object in that space and using them to their best purpose. I truly believe in designing with the quote from Louis Sullivan in mind, “Form follows function.”

Q: What is the biggest problem homeowners come to you with? 

A: If I had to choose one, I would say that it’s the lack of a master plan. I also think that’s the biggest decorating mistake most people make. When they take a myopic view of their room—say, purchasing a single item like a sofa hoping it will make a dramatic change in their room—they often find themselves dissatisfied, but they can’t put their finger on the reason why. A master plan helps them see the possibilities for their completed room and gives them a roadmap for how to tackle the project in stages.003 copy

Q: Share a special design challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it. 

A: One of my favorite stories is of a couple who wanted me to display in their great room every family portrait and candid photo taken in their 20+ years of marriage. The husband suggested we frame all of them and run them up the walls on either side of the fireplace all the way to the two-story ceiling. But this solution conflicted with the other request of the couple, which was that I make the space feel formal, yet inviting. After asking them to cull through the photos, they presented me with an envelope with the 200 or so photos most important to them. Through the use of frames on the wall and on floating shelves and the creative use of tabletop photo frames and albums (including a digital frame), I was able to incorporate all of the photos in a tasteful way, but it was a challenge. Whew!

Q: Tell us a bit about you personally. 

A: My family moved to Omaha from Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was a sophomore in high school. With the exception of a one-year stint in Boston the following year, I have been in Omaha ever since. My husband, Dennis, is a banker, and we have two adult sons, James and Derek. We have two Scottish Terriers named Dexter and Stewart and a “mystery” breed of dog whose markings resemble a black and white cow, hence his name “Moo.”Foyer

Q: How would you describe your own home design style? 

A: My own design style tends toward the contemporary side of transitional. I enjoy finding the balance between classic and contemporary furnishings, typically unifying disparate elements through the use of color. I enjoy whimsical touches, especially in accessories. Oh, and I’m a fabric junkie, so I enjoy mixing textiles to achieve a blend of color, texture, and pattern.

Q&A: Andy Colley

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A creative from a very young age, Andy Colley tells us how he found his calling in woodworking early and what he most enjoys about about being a craftsman.

Q: How did you first discover your interest in woodworking? When did you decide to pursue it as a career?

A: Originally from Connecticut, I spent my childhood at Air Force bases in Japan, Hawaii, and the upper East Coast. I settled in Omaha about the time I entered high school. Throughout my youth, creativity in many forms had been an outlet, but never woodwork. Unsure of my future path after graduating, I started an entry-level position at a production cabinet shop. Within a few weeks, I was operating a production saw and then moved on to a bench, becoming a custom builder. After working at a couple shops in town, I started my own company. Ironically, a year later, I talked with an uncle who I hadn’t contacted in years and was told woodworking ran deep in my Connecticut roots.20 November 2012- Andy Colley is photographed at his studio for Omaha Magazine.

Q: How has your craft and your studio progressed over the years?

A: Colley Furniture has been through many changes in 12 years. As I develop and hone my skills, my work evolves…an endless pursuit for a craftsman. With this growth have come increasing budgets as well as complexity of projects. I’ve been involved with projects from coast to coast and collaborated with many great artists, architects, and designers constantly trying to push our expectations of furniture. Located in Benson for 10 years, I moved downtown last summer. For the first time, the shop now has a showroom and a storefront.20 November 2012- Andy Colley is photographed at his studio for Omaha Magazine.

Q: Describe your approach to furniture design. What sets your furniture apart from other work out there?

A:  Typically, materials dictate the design of my work. I am fortunate as an artist to work in a medium that presents me with a great base to start. Every single piece of wood in my shop is unique in color, grain characteristics, and mechanical properties, from large slabs of walnut to slivers of highly figured maple. All of these attributes guide the way in which that particular piece is utilized. A certain piece [of wood] might look better, but it might not have the characteristics you need for that component. Humility and respect are rewarded. Use of hand tools and joinery in construction intensify the relationship to wood and provide otherwise unobtainable strength and longevity to [pieces]. Many times the most complicated, most time-consuming parts are hidden from view. Some bakers rely on fancy, over-the-top frosting; others devote their attention to a more refined use of ingredients and methods. My intention is always to reveal and share the beauty of the wood without interference from design.20 November 2012- Andy Colley is photographed at his studio for Omaha Magazine.

Q: What do you most enjoy about your work? What message do you hope your pieces convey?

A: One of my goals is to show people that furniture can be so much more than disposable, uninspired places to sit or set things on. It can be something so much more—from Grandma’s favorite rocking chair to your parents’ dining set that has been a gathering place for so many occasions and emotions—[furniture] can be very personal. It can have a positive effect on our lives, and when we respect the resources we use, we have a positive effect in this world. Inspiration surrounds us. The more aware we become of the world, the more we can understand and appreciate every aspect of life.

Q: What are your professional plans moving forward?

A: [The studio] is planning to show artists of all mediums here, with a focus on process…bridging the gap between an artist’s conception of a work and an art patron’s purchase of a finished piece. Face-to-face events, such as workshops, presentations, and even small dinner parties are in the works to help achieve this. Retirement is not a part of my plans, as creating is essential to my being. Art is life, life is art.