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'I know that women have hips and curves'

Designer Edward Holman is ready for the world

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"I like women to look sexy at all ages and all sizes," says Edward Holman. "Some designers limit themselves and they want to deal only with smaller-sized people, but I think by me being Southern, I know that women have hips and curves. Those curves are really beautiful--some women are shy about them, but they're beautiful!" We first introduced you to Mr. Edward Holman in our Durham Arts Council Luminary Gala photo spread (indyweek.com/durham/2004-11-10/mauve2.html). Mr. Holman is a local designer of the highest fashionable order. At the ripe age of 7 or 8, he discovered an intense fascination with clothing, often imploring his mother to take him shopping. "I guess I was a little different from my little brother, because he just wanted to run around everywhere," he says. "I used to look at TV shows like Bewitched, and Elizabeth Montgomery just fascinated me with all the majestic and elegant [clothing] she used to wear. So I identified creatively with her."

Mr. Holman created his first six dresses for a United Way benefit show in 1993. He soon applied to and received a fashion design scholarship to Brooks College in Long Beach, Calif. In his fifth term there, his talent and persistence was rewarded by an internship with Richard Tyler, the well-known fashion designer to the stars. "That was phenomenal," says Mr. Holman of his experience. "[Mr. Tyler's] clothes are just beautiful from the inside to the outside."

The same can be said for Mr. Holman's designs. At the DAC gala, he wowed the crowd with his couture ensembles and runway-ready models. (Mr. Andre Leon Talley even took an eye to the designer's fashions, congratulating him on a "job well done.") Mr. Holman's choice of models was the mark of an expert hand that truly brought an international runway feel to a local arena. "Commercially, when I choose a model ... she has to be able to walk--I love a girl who can walk!" he says. "And she has to have a femininity about her."

Femininity is a driving theme in Mr. Holman's elegant attire. Often inspired by the women in his life and in the world, he is always thinking of new ways to drape the female form. And as with any designer worth his selvage, he delights in bringing his creations to life. "I love it, I love it!" he says, of seeing a woman in his clothing. "I know she's sharp--I know she's got it going on!"

Though he appreciates his relationship with local models and vendors, Mr. Holman laments the current state of fashion in the Triangle, namely the trend toward dressing for comfort, not for style. "When I was younger, there was a market here for clothes," he says. "I don't know what happened to the market, but people here have gotten to the point where they don't like to dress up. When you wear something different, [it's like] 'Why do you have that on?' People don't like taking fashion risks.... When I was in high school everybody had their own flavor ... [but now] when I walk around and look at people, everybody, to me, looks the same."

I simply must, at this time, take a moment to reflect on a fashion-related high-school memory of my own. The year was 1948 and mother had just become the proud owner of a Gilbert Adrian evening gown. Adrian was Hollywood's foremost costume designer in the '30s and '40s, and later created his own ready-to-wear exclusive collection, Adrian Ltd. The Wizard of Oz was a hit, yes. (Adrian was the chief costume designer.) Joan Crawford's puffed-sleeve dress was a hit, yes. (Adrian created this highly sought-after look in the 1933 movie Letty Lyndon.) But none compared to my dazzling mother in her floor-length Adrian chiffon goddess gown.

Years later, in high school, I somehow committed the unforgivable sin of borrowing and (sacrilege!) wearing mother's dress to a junior dance. When mother realized that her prized Adrian had dipped out for a night on the town, and that her only child--apparently rife with fever and iniquity--had escorted said dress, well, in short: a dance was interrupted, a child was confronted, a hasty wardrobe change--mid-party--ensued and a severely humiliated potential homecoming queen was summarily dethroned and marched home, in full sight of an amused and impressionable teenage township. On that memorable day, mother rebuked me with words I've never forgotten.

"Every woman must allow herself a certain personal luxury in life. For some, this is men. For others, fine dining. For me, it is this: to own a dress that enters a room on the weave of awe, the drape of provocation and the thread of elegance. Do not again endeavor to handle my luxuries, lest you seek to relinquish your own."

Sadly, for many Triangle residents, seeking one's own personal luxuries--courtesy of Edward Holman--may soon be a long-distance affair when he boards ship for more fashionable waters. "I try not to get comfortable at home because I don't want to be like 'This is it.' I want to spread abroad," he says. And indeed, Mr. Holman will soon spread his wings to--we are certain--take New York and the fashion world by storm: He will be attending a haute couture fashion program in the summer and the Fashion Institute of Technology in the fall.

"My main goal is to own my own fashion house," says Mr. Holman. "It doesn't have to be a high-end market, just something people can appreciate and [where] I can offer something to the community. If it's nothing but hospital uniforms and military uniforms, just working in the business of fashion [would make me happy]. I really, strongly love the fashion industry."

Know your local designer. Support your local designer. Love your local designer. And remember, folks: Let's go out there and look fabulous!

Stay tuned for details on Mr. Holman's spring fashion show. You can contact him at 484-3088.

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