As a fashion photographer, I was most interested to hear that the Art Institute of Austin was holding an open casting call yesterday to select fashion designers for season 2 of  the Bravo TV’s  “The Fashion Show with Isaac Mizrahi.

The panel of judges given the task of selecting designers for the show included top local designer Linda Asaf and Austin Fashion show producer, Melissa d’Atellio.

The hopeful designers gathered in the student lounge, waiting for their opportunity to sit before the judges  and make their cases to be on the show. Casting Producer Vanessa Bond, and her staff, processed the applications. I watched the designers as they individually walked down the corridor to their individual interviews with the judges—it was hard not to wonder if this was, indeed, their appointment with destiny.

During my time at the Art Institute,  I had the opportunity speak with two of the contestants: Ross Barnnett and Malissa Long. In his own words Ross said, “I design classic, tailored evening wear and business wear for women that has a modern twist—I use organic materials to produce timeless dresses, gowns, skirts, suits, etc. . . .  A great quote that I live by is ‘ Fashions fade, style is eternal'” (Yves SL). Continuing, Ross jokes, “I can’t reinvent the wheel, but I can make some modern improvements.”

Malissa is very passionate about designing clothing. Pattern drafting, sewing, and making beautiful clothing makes her happy, whether it be her through using her own designs or bringing others’ ideas to life.

An added bonus for me was the chance to have a delighful conversation with the Art Institute’s academic director of fashion, Peggy Blum, and Cheryl Bemis of Peggy, a recent transplant from New York, is excited about the growth of the fashion community in Austin and the part the Art Institute of Austin has to play in that. Having Bravo TV come to Austin to hold casting calls for its reality show is just one of the increasing number of fashion events for 2010 in Austin.

As per her bio on the Fashionably Austin site, Cheryl Bemis is described as “1/2 of the Fashionably Connected team, and she provides media content, event coordination, and public relations for the company.” While we talked, Cheryl was making final edits to her video interview with Dana Tomsic, the casting director for The Fashion Show – season 2. With over 20 years in the fashion business, including on-air roles reporting for both radio and TV, it is impossible to sit with her for any length of time and not walk away convinced of her passion for fashion. This was echoed by Ross Bennett when he was talking with Cheryl about her contribution to the Austin Fashion scene. Given the number of designers there who knew Cheryl , I’d say she was definitely Fashionably Connected.

If you haven’t already done so, visit, and it won’t take longer than a few seconds to realize what a huge resource Cheryl and Peggy are and the impact they have on the fashion community in central Texas including designers, models and photographers.