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designer selection panel

We Love our Selection Panel!

panel Have you met our wonderful selection panel? This season always presents us with some tough decisions but our panel is top notch. Here is a bit more about them:

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Judy Davis is a two year board member of the Fashion Institute Midwest Board and the Fashion Institute Guild.  She currently serves as treasurer of both organizations.

Outside of the “fashion world”, Judy serves the community as Philanthropy/Event Chair on the American Red Cross Board, Board Development Chair on the YMCA Board, Chair of the Iowa West Educational Advisory Committee, a member of the  Iowa Western Community College Black Tie Committee,  and a board member of the Council Bluffs Guild of the Omaha Symphony.

Judy served as Campaign Consultant for the new Charles E. Lakin YMCA in Council Bluffs and is currently serving as Campaign Consultant for the Council Bluffs Athletic Complex. Judy is married to husband Ron, has three children and six grandchildren.


Meghann Schense is creative consultant & grit of She is a founding, executive board member for the Fashion Institute Guild, a style ambassador for Harper’s Bazaar, and “Au Courant” trend columnist for Inspired Living Magazine.

Meghann’s expertise includes media production, writing, art direction, styling, graphic design, photography, event planning, market research & analytics, e-commerce, branding, public relations, email marketing, and social media.


Vanessa Barrett has a long history with design and fashion. She began as a window dresser, with many experiences along the way including boutique owner, buyer, interior design, editor of The Scout Guide Omaha, and photographer. Vanessa is currently working in jewelry design and as a fashion/interior stylist.


Autumn Foland leads the sales and customer service efforts at Design Parliament. With over 15 years of retail and wholesale experience, Autumn has solidified a reputation for being a key player in the nation’s designer specialty and department stores. She has purchased at wholesale showrooms across the country, as well as such venues as New York Fashion Week, LA Fashion Week, Dallas Market and Style Max Chicago.

Autumn has developed relationships with hundreds of fashion designers and top retail executives through her various buying and selling activities. Autumn is also very involved in her local community, serving as Board Member of the Midwest Fashion Institute Guild, Member of the Board and Chairperson of the Heart Ministry Center Fashion Show and a Team Captain Volunteer for The ICAN Womens Leadership Annual Conference.


Robyn Kortan was a Senior Buyer for Dayton Hudson Department Stores headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.  She was responsible for managing multi million dollar businesses for several departments. In this position, Robyn also had the opportunity to travel for the Associated Merchant Corporation and was involved with design and development of merchandise for private label to be used by Dayton Hudson/Marshall Field and several other major department stores throughout the U.S. Before retiring from retail, Robyn moved to Human Resources and was responsible for the Merchant Trainee Program and conducted professional and personal training for the Executive Merchant Team.

With these folks on the panel, we have no doubt that the August 2015 lineup will be wonderful!



OFW Designer Selection Panel

Omaha Fashion Week has assembled a panel of experts who will interview designer candidates for the next season of Runway Shows, scheduled for March 19-24, 2012.  Panelist input will help organizers make final selection decisions. Read panelist bios below. Interviews are by invitation only and are scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20 from 5-7 p.m. at Nomad Lounge on 1013 Jones St. Designers will receive an invitation to interview via email on Oct. 17, at which time they can sign up for an interview time-slot on a first-come, first-served basis.  Designers must complete an interview with the panel to be considered for the March shows.

Each interview will take 10 minutes.  Designers must come prepared with at least three sketches of what they are planning for the Fall/Winter 2012/13, along with a sample garment from a past collection.  Portfolios, mood boards or any other items that demonstrate the concept for the upcoming season are also welcomed.  The panel will ask questions based on information provided on the application by the designer.  They will be looking for a clear concept that ties each collection together, along with creativity in design, construction quality (based on garment provided) and seasonal appropriateness.

Wendy Chapman Wendy is a retail consultant who has made deals with national chains through her work at One Pacific Place and RED Development.  She brought Anthropologie, Trader Joe’s, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Coach and many others to Omaha.  She now works independently as principal of Chapman Retail Consulting, which allows her to work directly with retailers, placing them around the U.S.  Prior to working in real estate, she managed merchandizing and fashion shows at One Pacific Place.

Hal France Hal became KANEKO's first executive director in May 2008 bringing nearly 30 years of leadership experience as a conductor of opera and symphonic music. He was the first musical director of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and was formerly the principal director of the Omaha Opera.  As executive director of KANEKO, an open space for open minds, he is actively engaged the organization's mission of supporting and promoting freedom in creativity.

Barb Trout A UNL faculty member since 1981, Trout teaches many aspects of apparel design and visual merchandising, as well as history of costume. She is curator of the historic costume collection in the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design.

Mary Ann Vacarro Mary Ann is a nationally acclaimed fashion designer whose couture dresses, suits and separates have been worn by highly successful women and featured in national publications including Town & Country Magazine. Along with running a design studio and workroom, she ran a Fashion Advertising business in five states, had a New York showroom for her Ready-to-Wear collection and designed freelance bridal and evening wear for New York manufacturers.

Wendy Wiess Wendy is a UNL faculty member in the Textiles, Clothing & Design Department. She teaches courses in textile design, including woven and non-woven textile construction, surface design and a special topic graduate seminar. She also serves as the Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery Director, where develops local and international exhibitions and educational programs for diverse audiences.