What started as lending a helping hand to his aunt turned into a lifelong passion for one Carmel student. For high school senior fashion design student Greg Dugdale, the spark to his future was ignited at Turn Dot, his aunt’s art deco store in Broad Ripple. Nine-year-old Greg went from regularly helping his aunt tag the jewelry to designing his own jewelry. His creativity took off; and in fifth grade after taking a sewing class, Greg knew he was on to something. “I figured out from there that I really wanted to pursue sewing, fashion, and basically any art,” Greg said.
It’s rare that a student has a firm grasp on the future at such a young age, but Greg hasn’t looked back. Over the years, he honed his interests with classes at the Indianapolis Art Center. Almost immediately, he started winning awards for his creations in jewelry, painting, and fashion. As his skills and creativity grew, so did his business sense. As a young teenager, he started Dugdale Designs, a light green, not-for-profit business selling his original designs of jewelry, paintings, and photography.
Through these ventures, Greg has crafted a unique design style by merging his love of fashion with his interest in recycling. Most of the time, he makes his designs with 80–90 percent recycled materials.
Since 2005, Greg has built an impressive resume of awards and honors. For instance, in 2010 Greg was honored when the Coca-Cola Company invited him to create a dress out of Coke products for their partnership in the Red Dress Campaign. His dress and accessories were on display at Marsh Supermarket. An even greater honor was yet to come.
Earlier this year, Greg ran into Murph Damron, program committee member of the Fashion Art Society at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She highly encouraged Greg to enter Project IMA In:spired. Project IMA is a fashion show/contest that features designs by local and national artists and fashion designers. Designers submit a sketch of their creations, and if the sketch is accepted, they then create the garment and enter it into the contest. Inspiration for the garment is to come from clothing already on view in the IMA exhibition, which highlights the work of four fashion designers from Indiana: Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Halston, and Stephen Sprouse.
Greg submitted two sketches, and one of them was accepted. The concept came together after much brainstorming. “It’s the IMA. You can’t just do something simple,” he said laughing. Greg settled on a 1950s style party dress created from recycled awning material and lined with cotton. He added a complicated Chevron pattern. “I made sure my design was different from the ones I got inspired from. You always have to think of your own twist to make it your own,” he said.
The difficult pattern entitled “Off the Awning” took Greg almost two months to complete. He recruited his friend, senior fashion design student and model Jessica Brandt, to model the dress for him at the fashion show. Greg compared the experience to having a “Project Runway moment.” And like Project Runway, Greg was in charge of all the details, including supervising Jessica’s hair, make-up, and accessories.
Project IMA chose one overall winner and four honorable mentions. Greg received one of the honorable mentions, an enormous honor for such a young designer. “I got a glimpse of what my life will be like in the fashion world,” he said.
Greg credits his parents, Sara and Jeff Dugdale, and siblings, Paul and Jessica, and his teachers with giving him the support he needs to succeed. He has placed in numerous other contests, including the 2012 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in which he was a National Gold Medal Winner. The ceremony was held at Carnegie Hall this past summer. More than 200,000 works of art were submitted.
Greg’s future looks just as bright as his past. He’s already been accepted into several schools where he will pursue a bachelor of fine arts in fashion design. He plans to work for a designer learning the business and then wants to launch his own line. “I want to be in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week or Fashion’s Night Out,” he said. He hopes to open a boutique featuring some couture pieces, but also wants to have affordable designs in Macy’s, Nordstorm, Saks, JCP, and Kohl’s. His face lights up as he envisions a future where “Walking down the street I see someone wearing something I’ve made or designed.”