We Talk To The Pin Show's Founder About The Massive Fashion Display's Return.

The Pin Show is back, y'all!

After a one-year hiatus, The Pin Show, a locally produced, independent fashion show of more than 38 designers (most from right here in Dallas) has announced its formal return, as well as a new direction.

This year's show will be held at The Fairmont Dallas in the Regency Ballroom on February 23. While not only being an exciting energetic show, designers this year have the opportunity to apply for an artist-in-residence program in which one designer is awarded a three-month on-site residency through The Fairmount.

In anticipation of the big event next week, we had the opportunity to sit down with Pin Show founder and executive producer Julie McCullough — right while she was in the midst of planning the show, and designing two whole collections for it.

Honestly, we're not sure how she found the time.

Give me the scoop on how you and Pin Show executive director Bryan Embry came to be partners on this event and why you decided to bring it back.
Last April, Bryan and I got together, and he asked why I wasn't doing The Pin Show anymore. I told him how I just wasn't ready to do it on my own. He said, “What would change your mind? What would you want to change?” I had a huge laundry list, of course. Things like lighting and sound, capacity, and no valet parking were huge issues at [previous location] Union Station, so we basically went through all of the things that made it difficult to take things to the next level.

Could you not fit enough people in Union Station?
We really couldn't. They do have a capacity there. It's a wonderful venue, but it's also a historic building, so you can't rig anything up to the ceiling, and it echoes. For audio and sound, it was just terrible. Bryan is already affiliated with The Fairmont — he owns the Ross Akard Gallery at The Fairmont and runs the artist and residency program there already. Plus, The Fairmont is known to support the arts. So I told him that I would love to have an artist in residency with a fashion designer. I want to give money back to designers. I want it to be not less of a party, but a party with more purpose. It had just become such a party atmosphere and the designers would do runway and then what? So, for me, it was like, “What is the purpose of this?” It needs to be a launch pad; it needs to be a reason to have this besides just simply a showcase. So Bryan says “No problem, I'll call you tomorrow.” And he did and he said, “Look, I've approved all these things, talked to The Fairmont, and they are on board.” You know, without their support, this definitely wouldn't be happening. And just through talking to different people, Bryan has his own connections in the art world and the business world, so between the two of us, we were able to be able to pull all those connections together, including bringing on Mike Thompson a couple months ago. He's brought creative genius to the table and just been able to take some things off of mine and Bryan's plates and run with it.

What is Mike Thompson's story?
He did all the runway shows for Neimans for 10 years. So all the Badglieh Miscka shows, and the Cavalli shows so all across the country — he has worked them. He's also done styling for Neiman Marcus' The Book and is with On Set Management. To have him take us on and be our creative director has been amazing.

Creative Director as in production and styling?
Anything that has look or feel, he has taken on, including our lighting and sound, all our props. Our goal was to take it to the next level and Mike Thompson has taken it to Level 10. We have no MCs on the stage, there is no talking in between designers. It's very New York.

Does every designer have their own song for the models to walk to?
We brought on DJ Demarkus Lewis, who plays everywhere from London to Chicago to L.A. to San Francisco. It's a pretty big surprise about how everything is going to be set up this year. We have an eight-foot-wide runway as opposed to what we had before, which was a little four-foot runway. We are not building our own runway; it's not going to look like a matchbook put together; we are not spray-painting it in the backyard. [Laughs.] It's a totally different production. It's overwhelming, but at the same time it's almost less physical work and more getting people on board. The great thing was when we decided to come back, people were really excited, which made me excited that we are bringing this back. People are excited! From designers to sponsors to just anyone that was apart of it previously.

Tell me a little more about the history of The Pin Show.
The reason that Rachel and I came up with The Pin Show was that designers at that time had two choices at the time: You could put on your own show for a couple grand and hope that you could get a couple press people there or maybe a hundred people to come; that or you could do a bar show, which cheapens what you are doing. We've all done that and it's not worth it. So, basically the idea was how can we create this big production and co-op the cost of photographers, get all the press there for everybody, all those people there. It really started from that. At the first show at The Door back in 2007, we were hoping that maybe 400 people would come and there ended up being a line wrapped around the block. It was sold out, 1,200 people came and the fire marshal, too. So we knew then that Dallas wanted it. And Bryan has really helped to revive the energy of the very first show because nothing has ever matched the energy of that show. That's what I told Thompson and Bryan: “That first show, I cannot explain to you the energy that came out of that show, and I want that back, and I need that back for me to feel like this is worth it.”

How long is the show going to run?
We have about 210 walks this year, which is almost double what we've had in the past. But because we are taking MCs out of the mix, it's going to be about the same length. About an hour and half to an hour and 45 minutes. Everyone who has never been is like, “Oh my gosh, that's a long show!” but it's really not a stuffy runway show. Every six looks are a new designer, new genre, new story. That's the great thing; it just keeps going, keeps going, keeps going.

Are the designers going to be setting up booths to sell things before or after the show at all?
Yes, we will have a pop-up shop. It's much larger than before and it's out front this time, right by our red carpet. Lisa Petty and Hamilton Sneed are hosting the red carpet, which will be huge. And all the designers will have about 15 items in the shop located in the foyer of The Fairmont.

15 items to buy or to order?
To buy. The designers are turning their looks in two weeks prior this year. So we are not doing fittings the day of or hair and makeup decisions the day of. This allows them the two weeks ahead of time to create those items, which are usually the first thing to get pushed to the backburner if you're not done with your collection.

Why this time of year for the show?
This is the only week that nothing fashion-oriented in Dallas is going on! Why that is? Maybe because it's the week right after Mardi Gras? I don't know, but we wanted the press to be in town, models in town. We now have models that have walked in Milan that have walked The Pin Show. Khan right now is in New York at Fashion Week, and to see those things happening knowing not that they started at Pin Show but that they were able to showcase with us and help us and donate their time to us or that we were able to help feature them in Dallas is really awesome.

Even I saw that Oscar Fierro is doing NBC's show called Fashion Star, and he was with you the first year of The Pin Show! That's pretty cool to be able to use it as a launchpad.
Yeah, either as a launchpad or just us able to be a piece in that puzzle that gets them there! A lot of people were already doing what they were doing before The Pin Show came along. So I definitely don't want to say, “Hey, we found them! We discovered them!” We just hope to be a piece in that puzzle. It's also real runway for Dallas, and there is not a lot of that here.

Yeah, so what is the deal with Dallas Fashion Week in general, like how they used to have Fashion at the Park?
Yeah, that was really great. I just felt like there were a couple things that happened there. One, it was definitely a party and a preview party for lines that by the time they made it to Dallas have already been seen all over the internet. That's why I think that LA Fashion Week is struggling too, because by the time it gets to LA people have seen it and it's kind of old news. I think that might be the downfall of the internet a little bit.

What are your specific responsibilities at the show
I'm running back of house for the first time. Well, actually, I'm not. Mr. Thompson is now my boss. So he tells me, “You need to go sit and enjoy the show,” and I said, “Do you know me? Oh Mr. Thompson, you have no idea.” But, you know, I've grown a lot too and learned a lot. Just doing this show, I had never done anything like this. I had put together the Street Bazaars and events but I had never done fashion production. I have learned from all the folks that have helped me and who contributed to the show over the years. And now the great thing is designers basically hire us to put on their production. They drop off all their garments and their tear sheets and they are done. They get to sit back and watch the show.

So they are not dressing their models?
They are not allowed backstage whatsoever. There is no way we could have 35 cooks in that kitchen.

Yeah, no way!
As far as hair and makeup, the designers get to choose from four different looks and then we get to recycle those models for the individual designers looks. Jan [Strimple] has been a huge help, too. She's always come and supported and been very supportive. whether it be with her helping us find interns or her connections, etc. And that's what it is about, all these hair and makeup people, photographers, models, stylists are going to come and work together for a day and make those connections and going forward and work together as much as possible after that. Whether is testing together or hiring each other.

Like creating its own fashion scene.
Yeah, a behind-the-scenes scene!

And it all started with Make, your store where you could take sewing classes, etc., that started back in 2005!
[Laughs.] Yeah, it's the same idea. Just putting it to smaller genres of what's going on out there. All of our designers are either making their own garments or using local producers. So no one is living in Dallas and making in New York or China. Not that those things are bad, its just very important to me that there is a slow fashion movement. And an ethical fashion movement. And that we hold those standards. It also gives these designers a chance, so that they are not competing against stuff that is just being sent over to China and being mass-produced. It also gives a voice to the fact that there are manufacturers here. There are manufacturers here in Dallas.

Yeah, I think that's great to show that you can still get things made here.
It's so important to show that it's still here! We can support those people who are in those sewing shops and making good wage. We try to inform designers if they don't know that and how to get to those folks. We have cutters, pattern makers, and sewers that could use the work here. That's the way I found out — just from talking to other designers and everyone helping each other out with their sources. So it's been really great to be able to share those connections.

For more info, visit the Pin Show web site.

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