DALLAS, TX – Against The Grain Productions recently selected eight emerging designers to join their elite roster of Presenting Designers at their upcoming and wildly popular charity event, Fashion for a Passion. Now in its fifth year, the evening that brings together a bevy of Asian American artists has become known not only as as a celebration of up and coming talent, but also a springboard for careers. Past FFAP alum include Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh, who started with the event four years ago and has since gone onto be featured in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang who recently won the title of Texas Next Top Designer, and Project Runway Season 2 winner Chloe Dao.
Fashion for a Passion will take place on Saturday, October 12th at the Dallas Contemporary, located at 161 Glass Street in the Dallas Design District. This year’s roster includes an eclectic and diverse group that is sure to entertain and inspire. Said Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG President/Founder, “Each year, Fashion for a Passion is painstakingly planned down to the finest details in an effort to create a quality platform that promotes a new generation of young and exciting Asian American artists and to bring the community together. This year promises to deliver yet another memorable evening. We can’t wait to share this talent with the audience and raise money and awareness for ATG’s orphanages, scholarship funds and outreach programs.”
NIKKI DUONG KOENIG | CYKOCHIK CUSTOM HANDBAGS
2013 marks Cykochik’s 10Year Anniversary! Cykochik Custom Handbags was first conceived in the small Southern Methodist University dorm room of Vietnamese American designer Nikki Duong Koenig in 2003. While living in Dallas and working on her BA in Advertising and Art at SMU, Nikki naturally combined her passion for art, fashion, and design to produce an innovative line of custom-made and eco-friendly vegan handbags featuring meticulous reverse appliqué designs proudly handmade in Dallas. Upon graduation in 2005, Nikki jetted off to New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). There, she honed her design and business skills in their CEO program on nights and weekends while working full time as an advertising art director at global advertising agencies.
In 2013, after a decade of growing her business part time, 30 year-old Nikki took the leap to pursue her passion full time. She’d successfully raised more than her $10,000 goal in 30 days to produce Cykochik’s Artist Series 3 :: 10 Year Anniversary Collection, on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. With the tremendous support from Cykochik’s fans, her friends and family, Nikki made the decision to leave the marketing world to grow her vision for Cykochik’s creative community of artists, artisans and art patrons worldwide in creating fun, custom, well-made, socially responsible and eco-friendly handbags and accessories.
Cykochik is a proud member of PETA Business Friends and supports the arts through the MAC – McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Art Love Magic, ArtCon, ATG Against The Grain Productions, and other local nonprofit organizations.
Design Inspiration: Much of Nikki’s fun, unique, and vibrant aesthetic is drawn from her travels, experiences living in Vietnam, Dallas, and NYC and her love for art, photography and nature.
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “It’s a state-of-mind, being able to trust/follow my instincts and not second-guessing myself despite external obstacles or influences.”
“It is an honor to be a returning presenting designer at FFAP, especially for the 5th Anniversary! In showing my 10 Year Anniversary Collection and sharing my story, I hope to inspire other artists/designers to also be bold and pursue their dreams, because it’s never too late. I also hope to raise more awareness for ATG’s cause and funding to help supported orphanages and future Asian American artists and leaders.”
VERA WANG | VIVIONA
Vera Wang is a self proclaimed geek. Born and raised in China, she graduated with a degree in English Language and Literature. Vera has always been passionate about high technology and how technology can impact day-to-day lives. So she didn’t hesitate to pick Computer Science as a major when she moved to the United Stated 13 years ago and went to UNT to pursue her Masters.
Viviona launched its own swimwear label in 2012.
Design inspiration: Classic yet bold, retro yet contemporary, simple yet sophisticated
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Helping build better communities.”
“As a minority myself and Asian in whole as minorities, we need to work together to bring community awareness and voice together as a unity. I am very excited to be chosen as one of the presenters. Fashion for a Passion has becoming one of the few up-scale fashion shows in Dallas.”
Kim Pham, 21 years old, graduated from The University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, a minor in Business Administration in Marketing and Electronic Commerce. She continued to foster her creative passion throughout her academic years, while winning many national and international awards.
Design inspiration: Kim’s design philosophy is to empower women with confidence through enhancing their beautiful curves. Her designs blend together an eclectic style, a mixture of bold and elegance combined with a contemporary sophistication. She strives to create chic and effortless clothing for the modern woman – always on the go and is not afraid to make her presence felt. She takes pride in her meticulous attention to detail; fine craftsmanship is apparent in every garment she creates. She embraces her keen understanding of the business world, creating designs that are both marketable and affordable for all types of women.
Honors/Awards: Her most recognized achievement is being chosen to represent the United Sates in the International Fur Remix Competition held in Milan, Italy. The competition, sponsored by the International Fur Trade Federation, provided her the opportunity to work with leaders in the fur industry like Dennis Basso and The North American Fur Auction (NAFA). She was later personally invited by NAFA to visit the company’s head quarter in Toronto, Canada, where she met with the executives of NAFA and received hands on training on designing with fur and luxury apparel. Kim later received the Best of Show Grand Prize at the prestigious Fashion Group International’s Competition against students across 44 universities from the US. The prize – an internship in France – allowed her to study Parisian haute couture with the renowned Paris American Academy.
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “’Expect the unexpected, be the unexpected.’” It means to conquer your dreams and be prepared to make the best of what life throws at you, and furthermore, to be the extraordinary and inspiration for change in the world.”
“It is an honor for me to be chosen to return to FFAP as a presenting designer. I am very grateful to have been with ATG since the very first FFAP. It has been a long and memorable journey. Watching FFAP grow and transform into what it is now has been a surreal experience. In the very first FFAP, I was merely seventeen – young and innocent. The experience was a raw expression of my youthful creativity and it has opened my eyes to many possibilities for my career. It allowed me an invaluable experience and opportunities to network with professionals that I still have close bonds with until this day.
Now, as a graduate and professional, my design aesthetics has matured. My time spent studying fashion and business has transformed me into a designer and entrepreneur that I am today. I design for the modern day woman with an eclectic style, a mixture of bold and elegance combined with a contemporary sophistication. I embrace my understanding of the business world, creating designs that are both marketable and affordable for all types of women.
I hope my continued participation with ATG will allow me exposure and support for my budding career. It makes me feel great to be a part of such a great cause and use my talent to benefit the community as a whole.”
Though born in the United States, Becky Hollands was brought back to Hong Kong as an infant and grew up in the then British Colony. Her mother of Chinese descent and father of British descent have both been very influential in her life. Becky’s aesthetic focuses on finding balance in extreme detail and free form drapery just like finding balance in her eastern and western bi-cultural upbringing. Becky concentrates on detailed techniques with contemporary elements in the goal of giving her designs a note of “effortlessness.”
Becky and her family moved back to the United States and resided in Houston, TX where she finished her primary and secondary school education. She had always grown up wearing uniforms both in Hong Kong and Houston, and her fascination with fashion grew to styling outfits for “free dress” days, flipping though pages of magazines and borrowing pieces from her mother’s closet.
Becky received her Bachelor of Science degree in Apparel Design and Manufacturing and minors in Art, Portuguese, and Mandarin from Texas Tech University. After being in the Merchandising/Sales world for the past two years, Becky, at age 28, is ready to embark for dream of developing her brand.
Design inspiration: Her inspiration comes from her family, different cultures, architecture and her surroundings. Her designs represent elegance and effortlessness in a contemporary and versatile way. Utilization of form and movement are prevalent in her work.
Honors/Awards: She was greatly involved as Representative in Dean’s Leadership Council, Fashion Group International competitions and received the Glenna Goodacre Scholarship for Creativity.
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Having an indomitable spirit. I have learned having an indomitable spirit in everything I do impels me to take action whether it may be a lifelong dream, my outlook on things, or the perseverance I endure through my everyday challenges. Increasing this indomitable spirit that that has compelled me to trust my instincts, believe in myself, do the best I can in anything I pursue and continue in the path and passions I have chosen.”
“I am so honored ATG has extended this opportunity for me to present at FFAP. I hope to represent my community, inspire others through my work, and support the arts and raise awareness while representing ATG.”
Danh Ta is a 29 year-old Vietnamese designer born in Thailand to a tailor & painter. His family immigrated to the United States & settled in Oklahoma. Being raised by parents compelled to use their artistic talents to make ends meet, the importance of creativity in life wash instilled in him at an early age.
Upon graduating high school, Danh enrolled in the fashion program at the Art Institute of Dallas in 2003. During his studies, his existing love for art & fashion flourished. He cultivated his talent for re-conceptualizing the dress and debuted his first collection for Fall/Winter 2008.
Throughout his fashion journey, from local fashion shows & now with his debut of his Spring/Summer 2014 RTW collection at San Diego Fashion Week this Fall, his designs have become recognized for their bold contemporary detailing. The Danh Ta collection has become the epitome of sensuous & chic designs, which are elegantly constructed for the modern day woman that can take her from day to night.
Design inspiration: Sensuous, chic aesthetics, custom sewn by hand, attention to detail inspired by minimalism/simplicity
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “It means everything; it’s the ability and will to do anything.”
“To be chosen again for this year’s FFAP makes me a veteran. I’m honored to showcase my latest Spring/Summer 2014 RTW collection, inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s movie Cleopatra. I hope to spread my brand vision in Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Diego and Los Angeles.”
CAC LAM | CAC DEMODE
Cac Lam is the 26 year-old Vietnamese designer and seamstress behind Cac Demode Designs. She is a graduate of The Art Institute of Dallas and interned in Milan, Italy. Cac’s inspiration draws from the mix of Eastern and Western designs. Her design aesthetic combines romanticism, fashion forward, and ultimately expresses feminity, individuality and choice. Cac Lam is based in New York City.
Design inspiration: Fashion forward, romanticism, femininity, individuality, Eastern and Western designs
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Believing in your ideas, creations and defending them to the end; even if they are contrary to society’s expectations. I believe going against the norm introduces hardships that need to be overcome. One could gain from the experiences and challenging the standard way for creating new paths. It motivates others to really think about the situations and what they believe in, not just take sides based on the popularity of opinions or ideas; making our world more colorful and full of modern inventions.”
“I am very honored to be chosen to showcase once again this year in Fashion For Passion. I had an amazing time in these past years at the event. I am very excited to have another opportunity to help raise money for the Vietnamese orphanage. This year I am hoping to raise more than what we had achieved last year.”
HANH DANG | LUCY DANG
Hanh Dang, the a 30 year-old Vietnamese designer behind label Lucy Dang, is based in Dallas has received much esteem since launching in 2011. Her passion and skills were cultivated at the University of North Texas’ College of Visual Arts and Design, where she earned a BFA in Fashion Design. During her time in New York City, she worked with renowned brands such as Nicole Miller, Rebecca Taylor, Kai Kuhne and Dillard’s Inc. Lucy was particularly inspired by Rebecca Taylor and her business partner Elizabeth Bugdaycay because of their success in fashion. She and her own business partner, Blanca Renteria, aspires to be like them.
Design inspiration: Lucy Dang’s designs are inspired by growing up in the South, and the idea of reverie to another era. Her girly, wistful and elegant designs reflect her own lifestyle.
Honors/Awards: Winner of 2013 Texas Next Top Designer and Southern Living Magazine’s “New Southern Icon”
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Stepping back from what is easy. Success is not easy. Giving to others and sacrificing your time, energy and money is not easy. All the good that was ever achieved in this world was won, by going against the grain.”
“This year will be my third time showing at Fashion for a Passion and I am hoping that we break all fundraising records again. Personally I am beyond thrilled and deeply honored that I can be a part of this amazing charity that does so much good.”
JERRY MATTHEWS | NINE MUSES
Jerry Matthews is a 22 yr old (23 in August) Filipino/Caucasian(Polish) creative director/ designer of a Dallas-based women’s luxury label Nine Muses. Jerry attended the Art Institute of Dallas. His clean and sophisticated aesthetic draws from his inspiration in music and in strong women in history and even in fiction.
Design inspiration: Clean, simple, sophisticated, tailored, women’s luxury clothing that’s progressive and edgy. Each season, the collection is inspired by nine muses. For the Nine Muses Fall 2013 collection, the muses included Lana Del Rey, Brigitte Bardot, Earth Kitt, Bonnie Parker, Jessica Rabbit, Catwoman, etc. “My inspiration in life is constantly changing. I am a combined effort of everybody/everything I’ve ever known.”
Honors/Awards: First Place in the 2008 Art Institute of Dallas’ “National Fashion Design Scholarship Competition” and “Outstanding Graduate in Fashion Design” in March of 2012
What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Pursuing something that you truly feel passionate about despite it being out of the ordinary or what’s expected of you. I think that the title is perfect for this charity because everyone involved is so passionate about this cause, and it’s awesome to see that and to be apart of it.”
“It really means a lot to be chosen. I remember attending one of the first FFAP events as a student, and I really wanted to one day be apart of it, and now I am. It is my second year now, and it is by far my favorite event in Dallas, because everyone is so passionate and lovely. The event is always so spectacular and everyone is so supportive. I can’t wait to see how ATG makes it even bigger and better this year. Also, it’s so great to do something I love, while giving back to an amazing cause.”
This year’s show will be emceed by two of Dallas’ most talented and beautiful public figures — LeeAnne Locken, an actress/spokesperson and regular fashionista on the social scene. She will be joined by Elizabeth Dinh, a reporter for KTVT CBS 11, former Miss Asian American Texas and a Board member of Against The Grain Productions.
Event tickets range from $50 for General Admission, $75-$100 for VIP/Reserved and will go on sale in September. Visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com/events for more information. Sponsorship opportunities are available by emailing Fundraising@AgainstTheGrainProductions.com.
Watch the 2012 Fashion for a Passion Highlight video:
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.