The Pin Show wasn’t supposed to be an event this year. Co-founder Julie McCullough Kim was done with it. After producing three of the shows, which highlighted independent designers, she decided they gobbled up too much of her time. But then Bryan Embry, owner of the Ross Akard Gallery, got wind of her plans. He didn’t like what he heard. He arranged a spot for a designer in the Fairmont’s Artist in Residency Program and convinced McCullough Kim to give it one more year. We’re glad she did.

Forty designers applied to be a part of the evening. Thirty-two were asked to bring in their lines. Twenty-eight made the cut. We fell in love with five of them.

pin_01 “I felt those little words just completely changed everything. There are no barriers. I could do anything.” photography: large photo by Tina Wong; makeup and styling by Traci Moore; Gallegos by Julie Hogg; others by Elizabeth lavin


MARIO GALLEGOS

Line: Mario Alberto
Specialty: Cocktail dresses and eveningwear
Purchase at: By appointment only, 214-994-3912 or marioalbertodesigns@gmail.com

Mario Gallegos remembers studying a couture gown in a magazine while a student at El Centro College. The gown had no way for a woman to put her arms through the sleeves. As Gallegos puzzled over the dress, his professor, Michael Anthony, asked him if it had to have sleeves. “I hit nirvana,” Gallegos says. “I felt those little words just completely changed everything. There are no barriers. I could do anything.”

The 27-year-old buyer for Clotheshorse Anonymous sits in his Deep Ellum loft on a slightly broken Edwardian chair he can’t bear to throw out. He’s surrounded by books, statues, and his birds. His creations are everywhere. A beautiful rose lace gown sits on a mannequin, a hand-beaded organza skirt hangs on a rack, and shoes with vintage lace, beads, and glitter adorn a pile of books. For years, he has created lines for others. But Gallegos has decided that 2012 is his year. “I’m going to take a risk with whatever cash I have,” he says. He wants to create a ready-to-wear line with oversize jackets and bright colors. It’ll be a change from his current romantic ballgowns. “I’m a Gemini,” he says. “I’ve got a good side and a bad side. It’s the bad side coming out.”

Where do you get inspiration?
Everywhere. Books, movies, online.

Name one person in Dallas you’d like to design for.

My fairy godmother, Jan Strimple

Who’s your favorite designer?
Cristóbal Balenciaga

Define your style in five words.

Elegant, luxurious, inspirational, romantic, enchanting

pin_02 “If I didn’t love this as much as I do, I wouldn’t sacrifice my weekends and neglect my boyfriend.” photography: large photo by Steven Wallace at Optiks Studio; all others by Elizabeth Lavin


CHARLOTTE ELLIOT

Line: Yomono
Specialty: Corsets
Purchase at: IndieGenius, 409 N. Zang Blvd. 214-941-0075; Art Is Art, 2811 N. Henderson Ave. 214-823-8222; and yomono.etsy.com

At the end of a long day as an associate designer of dress and tailored menswear at the Haggar Clothing Co., Charlotte Elliott comes home to her 1940s apartment in the Oak Lawn area, eats dinner, and then sits down on her black couch. She pulls one of her two sewing machines up next to her and begins sewing clothing for her line, Yomono. “It’s kind of a play on the word ‘komono,’ ” she says. “I like that. But to be honest, I don’t really know where it came from.” It was just one of the names the 25-year-old came up with while at the Art Institute of Dallas, and it stuck.

Elliott launched her line in 2009. Since then, she’s built a successful Etsy shop and has booths at IndieGenius and Art Is Art.

One of the focuses of Elliott’s line is to leave behind a small ecological footprint. Most of her materials are reused or reconstructed. A chic dress fitted to a mannequin in the corner of her quaint apartment is the perfect example of her ability to reuse. It’s made of three types of men’s pants, with the grays from the pants creating a subtle color blocking. But her main area of expertise is corsetry. “I always admired corsets,” she says. “They have so much workmanship and you can really see how much passion goes into them because there is so much refined detail.” But working with such intricate designs requires a lot of time, something Elliott’s okay with. “If I didn’t love this as much as I do, I wouldn’t sacrifice my weekends and neglect my boyfriend,” she says. “If I didn’t love doing this as much as I do, I wouldn’t be doing it every day after work.”

Where do you get inspiration?
Film noir

Name one person in Dallas you’d like to design for.

Burlesque performer Cora Coquette

Who are your favorite designers?

House of Courreges and Alexander McQueen

Define your style in five words.
Retro, vintage, low-impact, vivid, artisanal

pin_03 “My main inspiration is a lot from architecture, art, minimalism, and the art deco era.” photography: large photo by Opulens Photography by angel young; portrait by Trish Varela; all others by Elizabeth Lavin


ISABEL VARELA

Line: IZAVEL
Specialty: Jackets/blazers, dresses, pants
Purchase at: izavel.net

For the first three months of the year, 27-year-old Isabel Varela lived the high life. She was granted the Fairmont Hotel’s Artist in Residency spot in January. Each day, she would climb out of her bed on the 25th floor and ride the elevator down to her studio. “I love it,” says Varela, who has held a variety of internships from designers such as BCBGMAXAZRIA to Abi Ferrin. “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” The residency is an educational arts outreach program for the community. Former tenants include a woodworker, painter, photographer, metal sculptor, and, currently, a multimedia artist. Besides the words they leave scrawled on the white walls of the studios, all the residents are also asked to donate a piece of their work. Varela’s will be visible as soon as guests walk in the door of the hotel. She’s creating a suit for the hotel’s concierge. “It’ll be a little edgier, but still classic,” she says. “It’s exciting, because eventually I would love to do menswear. I take a lot of inspiration from menswear.” This is evident in the pieces hanging on racks and fitted to mannequins. There’s the blazer with wide cuffs and a jacket accessory that can be attached with magnets. There’s the tailored black coat with a pleated back in the gray, black, and white print Varela created. The print, prominent in her line, was inspired by an image of corroded metal. “My main inspiration is a lot from architecture, art, minimalism, and the art deco era,” she says. We’re looking forward to seeing the concierge’s new style.

Where do you get inspiration?
Websites such as buamai.com and foto-decadent.livejournal.com.

Name people in Dallas you’d like to design for.
Lisa Petty, Heidi Dillon, and Jan Strimple

Who are your favorite designers?
Martin Margiela and Rick Owens

Define your style in five words.
Tailored, controlled drape, minimalism, attention to detail and fit

pin_04 “This is where I belong. It’s my world.” photography: large photo & portrait by Candace Moore; small photo by Thomas Garza Photography; all others by Elizabeth Lavin


EMMANUEL TOBIAS

Line: Emmanuel Tobias
Specialty: Gowns, avant-garde, headpieces
Purchase at: By appointment only, 214-315-9276 or contact etobias@gmail.com

Emmanuel Tobias was in his first year at El Centro College studying business when he was asked to be a model in a fashion show. He agreed, and as he stood backstage, he suddenly felt energized. “This is where I belong,” he says. “It’s my world.” So he signed up for one class in fashion. One semester and five classes later, he was hooked.

Since then, the 27-year-old has worked at Richard Brooks Fabrics and created custom dresses. Now he works for Nicole Musselman and her line, Koch. The experiences at Richard Brooks and Koch have made Tobias savvy in business and design. “To be a true designer and someone that can be noteworthy, you have to know how to run a business and know how to design at the same time,” he says as he thumbs through his pieces at his Deep Ellum loft, which he shares with his partner, Ruben, and their 70-pound husky, Lucian. The loft wasn’t large enough for the three of them and Tobias’ workspace, collection, and their bed. So Tobias had a bed constructed above the closet, leaving him with a corner to do his work, which can sometimes be a bit taxing. For example, there’s the time he spent four weeks crafting a dress made of hundreds of strips of red fabric. There’s also the time he put together a piece that contained leather, silk chiffon, and silk gazar, three notoriously difficult fabrics to work with when on their own, but nearly impossible when put into one piece. But for Tobias, the end result, the accolades, the drama, and the energy he gets from a show are worth it.

Where do you get inspiration?
Fantasy art books and my loft’s rooftop deck

Name people in Dallas you’d like to design for.
Cindy Rachofsky or Ana Pettus

Who are your favorite designers?
Rick Owens, Laura and Kate Mulleavy, Alexander McQueen

Define your style in five words.
Dark, romantic, illusional, linear, sculptural

pin_05 “So far, the universe has really put the right people at the right time. I could not have done this alone.” photography: Large photo by Shona C. Gilbert; all others by Elizabeth Lavin


SHONA C. GILBERT

Line: Shona
Specialty: Jewelry
Purchase at:byshona.com

Just a few months ago, Shona C. Gilbert sat at a table at Nosh, opening cigar box after cigar box. She was showing a friend’s friend her jewelry, which was tucked safely in the boxes (an eco-friendly and surprisingly cheap way to package her goods). The friend’s friend was a retail consultant who worked with museums. As Gilbert opened the boxes, people stopped by their table to ask what she was doing.

What Gilbert was doing was trying to determine if her jewelry designs were any good. She met with the consultant, figuring it would result in one of two things: one, the consultant would tell her not to give up the volunteer work she was doing with her daughters’ school. Or, two, the consultant would tell Gilbert that her stuff was good. The latter happened. And just a few months later, Gilbert’s jewelry, which she started designing less than a year prior, was the only line offered at the gift shop at the Dallas Museum of Art during the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit.

The 40-year-old mother of two moved to Dallas two years ago. “Dallas has just such a cool feel,” she says. “I felt myself being inspired by just everything here.” Her studio, located downtown, is big enough to house the more than 170 cigar boxes Gilbert has on hand, and the countless stones, trinkets, and vintage materials she works with to create her line. One corner even has an area set up with bottle after bottle of scents, because, one day, Gilbert would like to design not only clothes, but also scents. Even with such a fast-growing, successful company, Gilbert maintains her humility. “So far, the universe has really put the right people at the right time,” she says. “I could not have done this alone.”

Where do you get inspiration?
Music, especially ambient or chill music

Name one person in Dallas you’d like to design for.
Yvonne Crum

Who’s your favorite designer?
Alexander McQueen

Define your style in five words.

Provocative, glamorous, contemporary, sinful, sophisticated