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Ashley Gunkel, winner of Fashion Week NOLA’s 2013 Top Design Competition

Written by  IntheNOLA.com
(Photo by: Geovanni Velasquez) (Photo by: Geovanni Velasquez)
For the third year in March, New Orleans played host to its very own fashion week aptly titled Fashion Week New Orleans (FWNOLA). Over the course of five days, designers showed their newest threads, models strutted their stuff, and make-up artists and hair stylists put on the final touches in over 50 runway shows at The Sugar Mill. Three times must certainly be a charm.
 
Amidst the flurry of activity going on that week, several designers found themselves readying for a throw down…a fashion throw down better known as The Top Design Competition, with the winner receiving a highly-coveted prize package of retail presence in local boutiques, a manufacturing package, editorial coverage, photo shoots, and more.
This year’s winner, Ashley Gunkel, couldn’t be happier about her journey. “Words cannot even describe how awesome it feels to have won the Top Design Competition,” she said. It’s a great sense of accomplishment and a boost of confidence in my design aesthetic. You put so much work, time, creativity, and heart and soul into what you do and when it pays off, it just makes all the effort you are putting into your dreams all the more worth it.”
 
She continued, “The experience for me was really a great one because I actually participated in the competition two years ago in 2011. This was the first time I had ever attempted designing a cohesive collection, so it was a learning experience for me. Through my first trial, I was able to learn and better prepare myself on how to build pieces that would work together and make more of an impact statement when presented. I was then able to take what I learned and apply it to this year's collection and obviously it worked to my advantage since I was able to take home the win!”
 
Ashley’s interest in fashion started as a young girl. “Ever since I was younger, I never wanted to dress like anyone else. When I would shop, I would try to steer clear of the ‘popular’ stores and find places where I could find things no one else would be wearing. When it came time to attend my junior prom, I knew I wanted a dress that would totally stand apart from everyone else’s and that is when I designed my very first garment. After having the opportunity to create a dress exactly how I wanted it, I was hooked and thought, how amazing is this that I can literally design and create something knowing no one else will have it. That is what helped to start my journey towards my dream of becoming a fashion designer.”
 
Ashley’s designs will be featured in Hemline Boutique, a local clothing store. “This will be my first placement in a retail establishment and is the first step for me working toward getting the exposure I am striving to get,” she said.
 
She added, “My recent collection has become to be known as the ‘Midas Collection’ because of the vibrant, bright gold and silver brocade materials that I used. I wanted to create pieces that were unique, elegant, and on trend without over designing, and make the pieces ready-to-wear relatable for the mass market. I generally design for the modern contemporary woman who is looking to stand out from the crowd. My new favorite piece in my recent collection was my finale sheer dress with the gold godet fishtail bottom. I feel that it had just enough sex appeal, yet it was still elegant and refined at the same time.”
 
For those up and coming designers, Ashley wants them to know to never give up. “My dad has always told me, It's all about the effort,’ and this saying is very true. You are going to get out of it what you put into it, and it may take awhile, but eventually hard work always pays off. If fashion and design is where your heart is, then find a way to make it happen, even if it means doing it as a hobby in the beginning and working towards a career.”
 
For more information about Ashley Gunkel, please visit her website and Twitter.
Last modified on Thursday, 09 May 2013
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