This is just the first post from Fashion Week New Orleans. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum, but, it’s not going to be easy. After all, the Big Easy really, well, brought it. There were wild feathers, demure dresses, bold animal skull necklaces and razor-cut tailored suits. And we could go on for days. But, for today we’ll pay homage to Top Design winner Ashley Gunkel who proved going for the gold is good business.

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photos by Mike Bedgood

The emerging designer was one of four (out of 11 who began the competition) who presented in the Top Design finals Saturday night at The Sugar Mill. Ashley’s collection of four looks were the perfect blend of cohesive and diverse, demure and daring and all made of metals that were anything but heavy. With a sweet little peplum number, she was ever the lady, but topped it with a diaphanous shirt that brought just the right kind of sexy. She pulled a similar act with her finale dress — a floor length gold-trimmed dress that we’d see quite easily on any red carpet was sensual without that bawdy vibe we see far too often.

Our favorite look from her collection was certainly the jumpsuit. (And she wasn’t the only one that killed it in the jumpsuit department. Stay tuned for more jumpsuits from other designers we’d love to see in this IND Styler’s closet). The bold sleeve and narrow pant leg are totally on trend and we love a look that is a fresh way to do cocktail.

The most wearable of her looks came by way of a legging and asymmetrical tank. For a girl addicted to this shape of flowy top and slim leg, it’s just the kind of thing I’d love to wear.

As Ashley’s pieces hit the runway I scribbled notes and searched for some sort of sartorial reference and could find none. And that, perhaps, is the mark of a truly fresh take in the world of design.

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