Austin Fashion Week 2016: Top Five Designers to Look Out For

Austin Fashion Week kicks off this Thursday in its eighth year as the largest fashion event in Texas and one of the most highly acclaimed events in the southern United States. The runway shows will take place April 21-23 with each day showcasing ten full runway shows, three miniature collections and three-look collections by some of the newest Austin designers. ORANGE has compiled a list of five designers to watch out for at Austin Fashion Week based on their previous work.

Story by Ethan Elkins

Samantha Plasencia

Since her debut on season 13 of Project Runway, Samantha Plasencia has taken her work from her hometown of San Antonio to New York Fashion Week. Plasencia now resides in Austin to look for a “better focus on her vision.” From unique shapes to bold colors, Plasencia’s collection is bound to impress with its sensual and punk aesthetic. While she has a few statement pieces priced near $200, most of her pieces stay under $70.


Teddy bears, loud pinks and purples, smoke, and a retro shimmer style make up the collection from this Austin brand. Dreamy, psychedelic colors compliment the tight and sleek tops, dresses and bottoms and are all sold for an average price nearing $60. Each product is designed and handmade by the designer and her “imaginary team” with a hint of “sparkle debauchery.”  

Gail Chovan

Gail Chovan describes her collection as “artisanal couture” with an “eccentric minimalism” vibe. The University of Texas professor and fashion designer’s brand falls into the high fashion category at Austin Fashion Week. She constructs unique silhouettes that stick to a black, white and gray color scheme to reflect her appreciation of both bold looks and classic timelessness.

Ross Bennett Haberdashery

Founded in 2008 by Ross Bennett and his wife, Ross Bennett, or RB, is a clothing line inspired by custom tailoring that incorporates modern designs into classic looks. Many suits often pair grayscale colors with elegant patterns for different patchworks. Bennett takes pride in guaranteeing “their clothing is made for the men who appreciate fine clothes, and want to continue the image of success.”

Michelle Lesniak

Winner of Season 11 of Project Runway, Portland native Michelle Lesniak will be bringing her whimsical creations to the Austin scene. Each of her collections follows a central theme, ranging from autumnal grunge to extravagantly animated. While her dresses and formal clothing are priced in the $100-200 range, she also has T-shirts priced at only $10 for the thrifty fashionista.