While the Houston Texans were choosing Jadeveon Clowney in the first round of NFL draft, Houston Texans cheerleaders were inspiring some team spirit of their own on the runway at Mercedes Benz of Sugar Land. They kicked off an evening of fashion that included a look at Project Runway Season 12 favorite Justin LeBlanc's winter collection and his jaw-dropping Pipette Tip gown.
LBD’s dominated the crowd, but the runway was all about color. Tootsies styled the cheerleaders in bright shades and bold prints.
“I’m a very visual person and I feel the need to present what I am thinking and feeling through my design,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc’s presentation was a direct contrast. Grey, black and white dominated, but a closer look revealed prints he developed by reaching out to his fans through social media, asking what their interpretation of “Love Without Boundaries” meant to them. The results were then engraved into his collection.
“I’m a very visual person and I feel the need to present what I am thinking and feeling through my design,” LeBlanc said. “I like to play with a garment. It’s exciting to find out new things I didn’t know about it.”
LeBlanc, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University in the College of Design, began his academic career as an architecture student. The insistence of a professor encouraged him to focus on fashion rather than architecture and LeBlanc made the jump, but he contends the two disciplines have a lot in common.
“They have the same kind of math and I love math,” LeBlanc said.
His persistence in college is nothing new. Born deaf, LeBlanc and his parents navigated his childhood the best they could. He received a Cochlear implant at 18 and is role model and spokesperson for the deaf community now.
“It’s very important for parents to get all the information they need when raising deaf children,” LeBlanc said. He credits his deafness with enhancing his design process, describing himself as a “control freak” because he likes to have his hands on everything he does.
Season 12 Project Runway fans will remember his floor-length gown made of Pipette Tips that sounds like softly falling rain when it’s worn. The high-curved collar represents 3D sound waves and design reflected his journey from deafness to the chaos of sound.
He incorporates a 3D printer into most of his designs and says he’s excited to see where the evolution of the technology takes fashion.
“These garments are designed to make an impact and material is changing,” LeBlanc said. “Anything is possible.”
And if anyone knows about vast possibilities, it’s LeBlanc.
Among those admiring the looks on the runway and the cars in the showroom were Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land vice president Bernice King, Mercedes-Benz USA sales operation manager Damon Blakemore, Tootsies' Chris Goins, Comcast's David Goleman and John Snyder, Susie and Doug Goff, Saeeda and Sajid Dawood, Kiran Dawood, Susanne Erickson, Kim Thompson, Silvia Revels, Kerry and Debra Bonner, Selena Szepesi and Yoli Herrera.
A portion of the evening's proceeds went to Texas Hands & Voices.