Tag Archives: Omaha Fashion Week

Forever and Always

December 22, 2015 by
Photography by Laurie and Charles Photographs

Since 1968, one of the advertising world’s most famous campaigns has posed the simple question “What Becomes a Legend Most?”

Generations of iconic women from Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, and Brigitte Bardot to Elizabeth Hurley, Naomi Campbell, and Cindy Crawford have donned Blackglama (and little else) in punctuating the furrier’s timeless message.

Calling Monika Katarina Johannsen iconic or a legend? You decide. But there is little doubt that this Polish-born force to be reckoned with knows how to command a room.

Whether at Omaha Fashion Week, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts annual Benefit Art Auction, or dressed down (yeah, right) for volunteer work with the Heart Ministry Center and other non-profits, Monika Johannsen is forever and always…well…Monika Johannsen.

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Buf Reynolds

November 24, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Her work is simultaneously bold and classic. At times she comes across as a formidable force; other times she’s as approachable as an old friend, signing her emails “Luf, Buf.” Buf Reynolds is equal parts daring and down-to-earth. She is friendly Midwestern charm meets big-city vision.

Reynolds has become a fixture of Omaha’s design scene in recent years, helping grow Omaha Fashion Week as one of its most prominent designers and as a key part of its organizational team. Her summer 2015 collection was arguably her best yet, showcasing models swathed in fabric printed with NASA images, carrying plasma globes, hair wet and delicate.

“They looked like they were just birthed from the universe,” she gushes. It’s clear she enjoys pushing the envelope.

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The collection’s spacey aesthetic drew upon the idea of micro and macrocosms, inspiring a sense of reflection about our place in the natural world. When asked how she hopes people might respond to the theme, she becomes contemplative: “You know, we’re limited as to what we can do, so you’ve got to be decent to other humans.”

Though her work certainly speaks to philosophical themes, Reynolds does not over-intellectualize what she does. Her excitement about fashion appears rooted in a simple, unpretentious joy. She respects the creative process as one of unpredictability, but pairs this spontaneity with a well-honed craft that allows her to produce elegant, wearable pieces. Her most recent line is a testament to this as it synthesizes an ‘out-there’ concept with timeless and accessible beauty.

She is quick to speak on her perspective of the state of the arts in Omaha: “It’s a challenge.” She points out that while Omaha’s cost of living allows artists more flexibility, it limits their opportunities to make a living from their crafts alone.

Still, she is hopeful. She says the design scene is evolving, attributing much of the positive change to groups like Fashion Institute Midwest and Omaha Fashion Week who invest heavily in new artists, offering them the community and resources they need to get started. “It’s really inspiring to have those people around. It’s come a long way.”

Looking to the future, she again displays zeal when talking Omaha Fashion Week plans. The next set of runway shows will be held March 15 and 20, 2016. As for her own personal plans, she says she’s becoming open to a few things she didn’t previously consider: shows outside of Omaha, production, and hiring a team of seamstresses.

“It’s a high that you don’t really get anywhere else. I wanna do more.” While it’s true that we’re all limited in our reach, it seems clear that Reynolds’ reach is only growing, and we can expect her to continue expanding Omaha’s horizons for some time to come.

Visit bufreynolds.com to learn more

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Where the Wild Things Are

October 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Local designer and Omaha Fashion Week veteran Audio Helkuik is introducing a new line of leather accessories for the fall season. See more of Audi’s creations at etsy.com/shop/audiohelkuik.

hair | Cory McGranahan, Victor Victoria
makeup | Chevy Kozisek, Victor Victoria
model | Walker Greene
clothing  | Wallflower
leather | Audio Helkuik
accessories | Nicholas Wasserberger
creative direction | Nicholas Wasserberger

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When Hair, Makeup, and Style Become Art

June 10, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article originally published in May/June 2015 edition of Omaha Magazine.

In 2007, hair stylist and makeup artist Omar Rodriguez left his native Puerto Rico for love. He moved to Omaha to be with his then-partner, a hairdresser from here he met in his island nation.

Back home, Rodriguez cultivated a background in theater, dance, music, and beauty-fashion. As a singer he toured with the boy band Concepto Juvenil, doing his bandmates’ hair on the side. This son of a butcher father and secretary mother was a fast-rising talent who then worked for leading salons Avante and Wanda Montes. His celebrity clients included Benicio Del Toro, Paulina Rubio, Jon Secada, and Ricky Martin. He was the stylist for Secada’s Amanecer album cover and Martin’s Black and White Tour CD cover.

Rodriguez worked various fashion shows and taught at a beauty academy run by a former Miss Universe Puerto Rico–Desiree Lowry Rodriguez (no relation). He was a Sebastian Beauty representative and trainer.

Once over the “culture shock” of Omaha, he built a loyal following as a star Fringes Old Market salon stylist. He collaborated with top Omaha Fashion Week (OFW) designers Dan Richters and Buf Reynolds. But when the romantic relationship he was in ended, he returned home with a broken heart. Three years ago he came back at the urging of Fringes owner Carol Cole.

“Carol is a very inspirational and passionate person,” he says. “I don’t know if I would have come here if she hadn’t called to bring me back.”

Rodriguez trained Fringes staff for the 2012 Battle of the Strands in Las Vegas. The Omaha team he competed on won People’s Choice and Best Makeup awards.

He’s since resumed work with OFW and now also reps a major makeup brush brand while consulting for a reality TV show. He works with many Omaha photographers and is a champion of Omaha’s creative culture, he says.

“I’m impressed by how much talent we have here. I really love that part of Omaha.” He nurtures talent via OStyles Omaha, “a community of artistic professionals” he created “to do collaboration and innovation and to inspire the cultural scene. We are dreamers. We are believers. We have the drive and passion to produce the extraordinary.”

When friends and colleagues outside Nebraska ask why he’s in the Midwest and not in some fashion capital, he says his response is always the same. “I could go to New York or California and I could do great, but do I want to swim with the sharks? I want to motivate and create something here in Omaha. I want to position Omaha as a real leader in fashion.”

The styling he did for Clark Creative Group’s promotion of Opera Omaha’s 2014-2015 season attracted national attention, especially the Surrealist hair piece he fashioned for A Flowering Tree.

“It was an amazing photo shoot,” he says. “I love how you can achieve what you visualize. I like to innovate. I do pretty, I do commercial, I do avant-garde. When I design hair I consider myself an artisan because I’m working with my hands. I mold. I bring color. I give contrast. I add texture. I create a figure and I finish that figure with paint–the makeup.”

Rodriguez enjoys the notoriety his work brings, but says, “I prefer being a king without a crown.” Besides, he says, “I’m always going to be a student for life. I push myself and what I learn, I give it back.”

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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.

The 
Theatrical Design of Jennifer Pool

January 24, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Jennifer Pool is a tad hoarse. “I’m recovering from the football game.” She was in the stands for Ron Kellogg III’s Hail Mary pass on Nov. 2, a Husker win that will go down in history. “I must have screamed for three minutes straight.”

The mind boggles, but football just might be more important than fashion to this freelance clothing designer from Papillion. Case in point: The second time Pool showed at Omaha Fashion Week, her collection was chosen for the finale. “But they announced it the day after my sister got tickets to the Washington/Nebraska game in Seattle. So I was like, hey, cool, I’m not gonna be at the fashion show cuz I’m gonna be in Seattle at a football game.”

Nevertheless, her collection still walked that fall 2010 runway. Theater friends stood in as her wardrobe crew.

The combo of theater and fashion has been in Pool’s blood for years now. She started sewing when she was 8. “And when we played pretend,” she adds, “it was very important to me that we all knew what we looked like. We are princesses, and you are wearing this colored dress, and your hair looks like this…very important that we got that clarified right up front.”

While she was finishing her master’s in costume design at University of Georgia in 2003, some friends began an alternative theater group at Blue Barn Theatre called Witching Hour. But Pool took her expertise first to the Indiana Repertory Theater before coming back to Omaha to fall in with the group. “I started out there as a helper, worker-bee type person.” Ten years later, she’s now Witching Hour’s artistic director.

“We’re kind of nonlinear,” Pool explains. “We’re experimental. We can set up some rules and then break them as soon as we set them. It’s not like watching a sitcom. We jump in and out of narrative theater.”

Witching Hour will only have two shows this season, due to a smaller ensemble (Sineater played in December, and How to Be Better runs Fridays and Saturdays from Feb. 28 to Mar. 15 at 11 p.m.). That’s it for fully mounted productions by Witching Hour on stage at Blue Barn, but there’s still their second annual Christmas Rumpus in July.

An out-of-season holiday observation is, frankly, right up Witching Hour’s alley. “Naysayers will say we reinvent the wheel a lot,” Pool says. “But we simply start with no rules.” Consider that a note to be open-minded if you’re planning to attend a performance.

“I think the best shows are the ones you need the thickest skin for,” Pool says. It’s a frame of mind she kept while constructing her fall 2013 collection for OFW.

“This was a very Witching Hour collection,” she says. “I approached it in much the same way I approach a show. What can I push myself to explore in an unexpected way? I felt stuck, trapped. I love to do crazy, avant garde things, I design costumes for drag queens. And the last two shows I did were contemporary.” Which, the history lover admits, isn’t her favorite style to design.

Bloodied models clothed in different stages of confinement—body cages, hoop skirts, neck braces—evoked a battle for release. “It’s about the struggle,” Pool says, “the getting out. Not whether or not you end up a beautiful butterfly.”

She’s interested in continuing the story for her next OFW collection. “If the first one was about breaking free and getting loose,” Pool says, “then you’re left with a chaotic mess. And the next collection might be about how you make sense of that.”

It might also be a response to the one negative comment about her fall 2013 show that stung. “Someone said I didn’t know how to sew,” she recalls. “And looking at my collection, yeah, there was a lot of design but not a lot of technique. So I feel like the next thing I’m going to do is going to be really structural. That’s the only thing I’m interested in responding to. Because that is wrong. Yes, I can.”

Design is My Therapy

August 19, 2013 by
Photography by John Gawley

The past few years have collectively been similar to stepping on a land mine. It felt like I had been torn to bits. I couldn’t see through the smoke. When it started to clear, I grabbed all my pieces and rebuilt.

Slowly, memories started to hurt less and life started moving forward. The memories are still there, but they are fading. The details aren’t quite as clear. They are slowly becoming more black and white. I hand-dyed each dress to make it appear as though the color is escaping, leaving only the black and white in the dresses. They are walking memories. They are beautiful and will always be a part of me.


Making them was a challenge, but I gladly accept those challenges. I tend to take on extra projects, both for fun and work. Recently, I made a dress that pays homage to Omaha, showing the city’s skyline looking westward. I am currently creating two very different lines for 2013, as well as a wedding dress for one of my former models.


For OFW, I have designed a very wearable collection of women’s clothing and a very avant-garde collection, including metal pieces as a base for my dresses. For the avant-garde show, I have partnered with Dan Richters to present Vessel, an other-worldly fashion experience. Dan and I both create our designs because they are part of who we are.The design comes through in whatever medium we are working with. Our collections have pushed our abilities. We do it because we love it. Vessel is decidedly darker than any of the other Omaha Fashion Week shows. Dan and I are transforming the entire atmosphere from the moment you enter until the end of the show to transport and take you beyond your standard fashion show experience.

Each of these shows displays my abilities and proves my versatility as a designer, which has become increasingly important to me. Keep following…who knows what will come next!

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.

For more information about Buf Reynolds’ collections, visit vesselofw.com or bufreynolds.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

Sammy Sunshyne

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The most surreal event of Sammy Sunshyne’s life happened last year, at the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Mich.

“It was the biggest show of the festival,” recalls the Omaha acrobat, “and I got to go inside of a giant inflatable bubble and crowd surf.” The plastic ball made for a rough ride with such a big crowd (she estimates there were 50,000 people), but it was probably the most awe-inspiring thing she’s ever done. “It was only six minutes, but it was the best six minutes of my life. I ran back and hugged my friend, and she spun me around because it was the most beautiful thing.”

Just two years before in 2010, Sammy (Samantha Mixan) had attended a different music festival that introduced her to hoop dancing. “Hula hooping was where it all started for me.” Today, she’s a professional acrobatics performer with shows in Downtown Omaha clubs, at festivals and concerts all over the United States, and at international events. Though she will graduate in December with a degree in psychology from University of Nebraska-Omaha, it’s her performing career that has captured her focus.20130503_bs_3087_Web

While Sammy’s current proficiency is in hooping and fire dancing, she’s training in contortion as well. “It’s all about increasing my flexibility, mobility, arm strength,” she says. “I’m working on a contortion act with fire for this year.”

She’s debuting the act on her summer tour with Quixotic Performing Arts Ensemble, the same troupe she performed with at last year’s Electric Forest Festival. Except for a couple weeks off here and there, she’s traveling with them as a fire dancer for most of May through August.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with a group on their level of performance,” Sammy says. “They’ve been so inspiring, and they’ve taught me a lot about performance. They’ve taken me to the best places I’ve performed, the biggest places. It’s a huge part of my career.”

When Quixotic contacted her to work as a performer, “it was a dream come into motion for me.” Sammy gives the credit for that connection to the tightly knit community of acrobats in the Midwest. “It’s small and interconnected and people know people. That’s how most opportunities present themselves, through people you know.”

“I’m trying to push the art aspect of performance. I want to make it into a work of art that you refine to be something impactful and beautiful as opposed to the sexy entertainment aspect.”

Attempts to train alone are things of the past since she injured herself trying for more complexity on a tour in India in 2010. “There’s a subtle strength that’s needed to control the body in those really intense poses,” she says. Sammy now travels to Kansas City frequently to train at Quixotic Performing Arts, perfecting the lessons at home in Omaha. She practices yoga, takes ballet, and is what she calls a six-day-a-week vegetarian. It also helps that she has access to a great training facility locally, thanks to her position as a tumbling instructor at Elite Cheer. When she can, Sammy trains with circus performers she knows from Montreal and San Francisco, such as Haley Rose Viloria.

In Omaha, she attends hoop jams, little get-togethers of amateur and professional performers around town, such as Circle of Fire at McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe and a group at Elmwood Park. “We get together to show off our skills, and there’s usually a drum circle.”

Professionally, Sammy’s performed at Sokol Auditorium electronic dance music (EDM) parties. “They have their own show going on, and I’m a bit part of that.” She worked at the Mayan New Year’s Eve at House of Loom and last year’s Omaha Fashion Week after-party at the Burlington. Sometimes, you can catch her work at clubs like Red9 in Lincoln and Halo and Rehab in Omaha. She’s also performed at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln, both with Quixotic and her fire-dancing partner, Ken Hill.Maybe-_Web

“She’s amazing,” Hill says emphatically. “I’ve seen her since the beginning up to this point, and it’s been awesome to see.”

She makes all her own hoops (out of polypropylene) except for her fire props, which are custom-made. Sammy dips the fire-resistant Kevlar spokes into a white gas fuel before performing. “You shake off the excess fuel, and then you light them,” Sammy explains. “It burns the gas, not the Kevlar. So when the gas runs out, your fire prop goes out.”

Little scars run up her hands and arms from fire spinning. “I don’t get burned every time, but it’s just something that comes with it. Obviously the more proficient you are, the less likely you are to get burned.” Sammy uses safety precautions such as putting up her hair, wearing lip balm when she’s fire eating, and perhaps squirting a water bottle on her hair and clothes. And when she gets burned during a performance, she doesn’t give it away. “Sometimes, you don’t even notice them until later.”

Sammy estimates she performs about twice a month in the off-summer months. “The community’s really growing,” she says. “It’s slowly getting bigger. More people are getting interested in it.” She feels two urges: to experience the performance scene in cities like Oakland, Seattle, Portland, and New York City, but also to bring that scene to the Midwest. “Event planners are only now realizing performers could add so much to their shows, so they’re just now starting to hire them. They add so much atmosphere.”20130503_bs_3073_Web

Sammy’s signature performance style is breezy and fun. Constantly smiling, she never makes poses look taxing or difficult; hence her stage name given to her by a friend. “There’s no possible way I could do this without a support system helping me,” she says. “I wouldn’t have these opportunities if I didn’t have the connections. You have to go out there and meet people who can make your dreams happen.”

While pursuing her dream on tour this summer, Sammy’s put a lot of thought into instilling her performances with a message. “I’m trying to push the art aspect of performance,” she says. “I want to make it into a work of art that you refine to be something impactful and beautiful as opposed to the sexy entertainment aspect.”

For her summer tour, she’s created a backstory for her fire-spinning piece. “So I’m a lost girl looking out over the audience, with my one light,” Sammy explains, “and she’s looking and searching, not knowing where she is. Then she becomes possessed by this inner being, this other side explodes through her personality. She’s confident and doing things that don’t seem possible for humans to do.”

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.