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Making Coco Proud

One hot little black dress: College designer takes the fashion staple into a sexy future — for the win

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Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Karina Barbieri, J. Michael Soliz, Gabriella Dror. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Roseann Rogers and Kim Padgett. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
The winning dress by designer Gabby Ong. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Jeff Shell with top 10 Little Black Dress Designers taking his signature "Shelfie." Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Christine Thorp, Jared Lang. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Sydney Dao, Kim Dunn, Amber Willis. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Jeff Shell with top 10 Little Black Dresses on Neal Hamil Agency models. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Shannon Hall, honoree Julia Anderson Frankel, Debbie Pakzaban, Jeff Shell, Vivian Wise. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Vitacca Dance Project performed before the runway show. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Donae Chramosta, Jessica Rossman, Ursaline Hamilton. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Maryann McKeithan, Julia Anderson Frankel. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Shannon Hall, Holly Waltrip, Mike Long. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Judy Nyquist and Chris Goins. Photo by Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues
Little Black Dress Party at House of Blues

The fashion scene at Little Black Dress Designer competition Wednesday night at the House of Blues would certainly have made Coco Chanel proud. From sequins and sheaths to lace and leather, the LBD was the unofficial dress code of the night, but all eyes were on the frock made by Gabby Ong, the Houston winner of the Little Black Dress Designer competition sponsored by Audi Central Houston.

The evening certainly drew nearly every key member of Houston’s fashion community. They came to support the mission of the contest and flaunt their own interpretation of the Little Black Dress. It’s an ideal match, and one Jeff Shell has cultivated since creating the competition in 2008.

“The LBD is the perfect subject for competition for design students. It’s the dress you can wear day or night. It’s the everything dress,” Shell said.

 After the runway show, Shell gave the crowd just moments to text in their favorite dress, sending phones and fingers flying.  

Ong’s everything dress had the appearance of being made from laser cut leather, but the Houston Community College student said she hand cut the material after seeing a Chanel advertisement.

“I got the inspiration from a Chanel ad with beautiful stairs and really unique banister. I took the design and implemented it on the dress and made all the cutouts,” Ong said.

Shell has also spread the competition to Dallas where designer Mai Pham wowed with her winning dress. Winners receive part of a $34,000 scholarship fund to the school of their choice.

Claire Ferran locked in the second place honors and Natthakan Chomphuwiset won third place and there is still an audience choice winner to be announced. After the runway show, Shell gave the crowd just moments to text in their favorite dress, sending phones and fingers flying. The winner will be announced in the coming week and share in the scholarship fund.

Shannon Hall, Vivian Wise and Debbie Pakzaban chaired the event which also honored Julia Anderson Frankel, founder of Houston Community College’s Passion for Fashion luncheon. The students in both cities will work with designer mentors over the summer, while looking to influential fashionistas as muses. Shell hinted at a fall event to unveil their efforts.

Good thing we know just what to wear.

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