Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sol Inspirations Eco-Fashion Design Challenge Finalists Announced: "Project Runway" Stars Christopher Straub & Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman In Top Six



"Project Runway" Finalists CHRISTOPHER STRAUB & 

ALLISON HELLIWELL of Allilamodie Designs
TARA LATOUR of Tara Latour Designs

Designers Will Create Three Eco-Friendly Looks Using Non-Traditional Fabrics, Recycled Materials, Sustainable Fabrics
- One Look Must Include Solar Panels -

Winner Will Receive $5,000 Cash Prize

Competition Will Take Place During Ignite Models Fashion Show at Sol Inspirations Eco-Fashion Gala & Fundraiser at
The Depot on Saturday, April 23, 2011

        MINNEAPOLIS, Minn (February 10, 2011) - Sol Inspirations, Ignite Models Inc, LIMEgreen Events and the Global Eco Organization today announced the six talented designers who will compete in the Sol Inspirations Design Challenge. Each designer will create three looks that will be worn during the Ignite Models Fashion Show at Sol Inspirations Eco-Fashion Gala & Fundraiser on Saturday, April 23rd at The Depot.

Look 1 must incorporate non-traditional fabrics, Look 2 must incorporate recycled materials or up-cycled clothing, Look 3 must incorporate sustainable fabrics, and one of the looks must use solar panels.

Competition for the $5,000 cash prize will be fierce as the group of designers includes two "Project Runway" finalists, a designer who showed her first collection during New York Fashion Week, independent clothing label owners and Twin Cities designers who have been making eco-concious clothing for years. The finalists are: "Project Runway" Finalists Christopher Straub and Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman, Allison Helliwell of Allilamode Designs, Tara Latour of Tara Latour Designs, Co-Designers Atom Pechman & Jenn Bratvold and Niki English.

The three looks they create will be judged by a panel of seasoned Twin Cities fashion industry veterans who will judge their designs on the following four categories: execution, functionality, originality and adherence to the guidelines. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

Meet The Talented Sol Inspirations Design Challenge Finalists:

Christopher Straub
is a Minnesota designer who was recently a finalist on the smash hit reality TV design challenge "Project Runway." He finds inspiration in natural surroundings in Minnesota: flowers, leaves, rocks, sky and water. He focuses on hand-crafted textual treatments to give volume and artistry to his fashion. Being eco-responsible is important to him in both design and home life. For fashion, he uses vintage and found fabrics and has been using organic cotton jersey to create custom-printed material for different projects. He also created a line of one-of-a-kind underwear made from recycled graphic tee shirts.

Ra'mon-Lawrence Coleman was a finalist and fan favorite on Season 6 of "Project Runway" and has a BFA in Fashion Design from SAIC in Chicago. He is constantly inspired by the world around him and his interactions with others. He translates emotions received from artwork, music, architecture, literature and nature into his designs. He is committed to domestic production of all goods he works with as well as utilizing either recycled or sustainable fibers in the materials he uses in his designs. In his custom designs, he repurposes as many materials for details as possible.

Allison Helliwell graduated from Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago with a degree in Fashion Design and works as a clothing designer specializing in women's ready to wear apparel for her own original clothing label, Allilamodie Designs. She does everything from design to making the patterns to sewing the finished product. She sets herself apart from other designers by incorporating hand knitting and using high-end materials in unconventional ways. In design work, she mainly uses natural fiber fabrics and fair trade yarn that encourages financial stability in poor countries. She also uses reclaimed yarn and vintage fabrics when available. Synthetic materials, which are mostly products of recycling are also used in her work.

Tara Latour, owner of Tara Latour Designs is a Minnesota native who finds inspiration from the landscapes of places from her childhood. She studied fashion design at the Rhode Island School of Design, Academy of Art in San Francisco and Parsons New School for Design, where she received at BFA in Fashion Design. She showed her first collection at New York Fashion Week and was featured on "Good Morning America" as a finalist for BRIDES magazine Operation Dream Dress. She is currently living in Minneapolis, with her own bridal label - Tara Latour Designs, based in the Arts District of NE Minneapolis, creating gowns that are unique, wearable and offer something fresh and new to the industry. She is known for attention to details and hand-done fabric treatment and hand dyed fabrics that create an ethereal, romantic and timeless feeing. She loves using color in wedding gowns, and also designs ready to wear and eveningwear that embodies the same design theory as her bridal collection.

Atom Pechman & Jenn Bratvold entered the design as partners. Atom has a Fashion Design degree from MCAD and has been working as an artist and designer in the Twin Cities for 10 years. His emphasis is on furniture and sculpture, and works with various materials including metal, wood, fiberglass, plastics and rubbers. His studio has become a dream shop for prototyping and one-off creations.  Jenn has a Studio Art degree from the University of Iowa and is graduating from St. Catherine University this May with a degree in Apparel Design. She's new to the Twin Cities fashion scene but has designed clothes for several fashion shows and made custom garments. She loves old film costuming and classic silhouettes. Her style is very structure based and she prefers to use wool and cotton, or find quality, unique fabrics at secondhand stores. Their eco-friendly design style includes shopping locally, reusing garments and textiles instead of buying new fabric and reviving clothing from secondhand stores, yard sales and their own closets. Making high quality, classic clothing is important to them because it will be durable and fashionable for a greater amount of time, reducing the number of replacement items.

Niki English has been a part of the Minneapolis fashion scene since 2007, when she began selling leather handbags made from thrift store jackets at Cliche Boutique. She studied Apparel Design at the University of Minnesota, where she learned pattern making and construction. She often reuses fabric or castoff materials in her designs to create garments that are unexpected, extreme and conceptual. Her goal in design is to make people think outside the comfortable realm of clothing and consider something completely different. She commonly dyes her own fabric with natural or organic dyes and wants to demonstrate that all types of clothing can be made with an eco-concious mind without adhering to one aesthetic.

Sol Inspirations will be Minnesota's first fashion show representing top talent our eco-fashion community. Until now, eco-fashion designers have relied on small independent fashion shows and booths at trade shows to promote themselves, branding eco-fashion as a niche product. With Sol Inspirations, designers and eco-responsible businesses will be able to showcase their products in a trendy and edgy fashion forward event produced by the top production and event management companies in the Midwest, Ignite Models Inc. and LIMEgreen Inc. With Minnesota's top talent working to educate and provide a strategic platform for eco-fashion and with the current popularity of the global Green movement and fashion shows, the timing is perfect for Sol Inspirations to market reposition eco-fashion as mainstream. 

Proceeds will benefit the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and will also be used to help Haiti rebuild. Sol Inspirations will be Minnesota's first ever large scale Eco Fashion show and production, featuring Ignite Models showcasing eco-friendly looks from local designers and boutiques as well as several nationally known clothing brands. The highlight of the show will be a design competition with a $5000 prize. With a silent auction, green vendors, DJ, Live Music and Eco Fashion show, the event will be a call to action to get people thinking about how they can be green in their lives in a variety of ways, donate money for two fantastic causes and have a fabulous night out in Minneapolis.

For press inquiries, please contact Natalie Auger, VimLab Promotions, 612.229.8522, For more information on Sol Inspirations, please visit:


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