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The creations of 38 inspired and talented fashion designers, including 11 students from the Experimental Design class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design, delighted the crowd at Project Funway.

Models, bathed in mood lighting, strutted the runway to a staccato beat, making the one-of-a-kind designs come alive. It was fashion for a cause – solely for the benefit of Fresh Start, the unique transitional shelter in Lincoln for women who are homeless. The Nov. 2 event at the Cornhusker Marriott surpassed the $20,000 fundraising goal for Fresh Start and engaged over 250 guests.

Lauren Silverman Durban, radio KX 96.9 morning show host, masterfully handled emcee duties. She kept the party flowing, while cajoling guests to open their wallets wider to support Fresh Start. Silverman, who judged the competition twice in the past, returned to host Project Funway because she appreciates Fresh Start’s mission.

“I love that women are given time to handle whatever other issues might be contributing to their homelessness, because we know that it's often so much more complicated than financial issues," she said. "Fresh Start truly is offering second chances in a supportive, caring, non-judgmental atmosphere. How could I not support that?”

Accepting the challenge to name the winners were judges Crystal Brakhage, Omaha Fashion Week designer and Project Funway alum; Denise Ervin, Omaha Fashion Week designer; and Nicole Ruskamp, a local designer, Project Funway alum and owner of Colea Alterations. Their top choices were:

• Best of Show – Angela Wang’s "Memories of Fragments," modeled by Shang Jin;

• Most Innovative – Jinyu (Nana) Wu’s “Han,” modeled by the designer;

• Best Integrity of Original Material – Audrey Foster’s “5 Jeans,” modeled by Kelsey Foster;

• Honorable Mention – Lynlee Mehdi’s “It’s a Garden Party,” modeled by Faron Medhi.

The people voted for their favorites, too – and yes, it was possible to buy votes to stuff the ballot boxes. The top vote-getters were:

1st Place – “Girl Sauce” by designer Madilyn Marshall, modeled by Shannon Sagehorn;

2nd Place – “A Walk in the Garden” by designer Lynlee Medhi, modeled by Faron Medhi;

3rd Place – “Cute and Lace” by designer Elle Lesiak, modeled by Whitney Gappa.

Guests flocked to The Daisy pop-up boutique and nearly cleared the racks and tables of hand-selected finds in clothing and accessories. And seven lucky friends will join the winner of one of the most coveted live auction items – a cocktail party and dinner catered by Relish in a downtown skywalk.

Fresh Start thanks Union Bank & Trust, Hampton Enterprises, Sysco, Lincoln Industries and Pioneer Printing for sponsoring the event and believing in the important role the agency has in the Lincoln community. A wonderful, well-tuned band of staff, volunteers and board members made the entire evening possible.

Watch for the 10th anniversary edition of Project Funway coming next fall.

For more information about Fresh Start and The Daisy, go to, find them both on Facebook or call 402-475-7777. See for more of Michael Reinmiller’s photography and videography work.


L Magazine editor

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