November 15, 2021

CannonDesign St. Louis Struts Its Talents at IIDA’s Unravel Fashion Show

A group of interior designers in our St. Louis office brought out their inner fashion designers earlier this month when they hit the runway at the Unravel Fashion show, a biannual event hosted by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Gateway Chapter.

Through the Unravel Fashion show, the IIDA asks designers to create a couture dress from unique materials commonly found in the built environment. This year’s event theme was “Rockin the Runway” and teams were assigned a famous rock-n-roll song to inspire the design of their dress. To no surprise, our team made sure the big wheels kept on turning to make CannonDesign proud. Oh yes, our dress was dedicated to Tina Turner’s famous “Proud Mary” song.

A big part of the competition revolves around the materials used to make the dress. Dani Sheley, one of our interior designers in St. Louis, is also the president of the IIDA Gateway chapter. Sheley said each team is assigned a manufacturer and the dress had to be made with at least 70% of the manufacturer’s product.

For CannonDesign’s dress, the team sought all-out creativity. The big showstopper was the train of the dress. The train was made with metallic backing of a carpet where each piece was individually hand sewn on a broad limb that was dyed with coffee to create a shimmery dark bronze color. The accessories and finishing details were made with weld rods.

“I remember the first time I saw the dress and I thought, how am I supposed to walk in this?” laughed Bonike Akinsanya, the model and a member of CannonDesign’s St Louis HR team. “But it was gorgeous. Watching it come to life and come together was amazing.”

Sheley added, “I would say 98% of our dress was used with sustainable materials from our manufacturer. Aside from the shoes, purchasing thread, and the zipper, the dress was almost 100% of the manufacturer’s product which is amazing and makes our team very proud.”

Although CannonDesign didn’t leave with an overall trophy for its design, Sheley said this event was unlike any other. This year’s event marked the first time the IIDA Chapter could get together in nearly two decades due to the pandemic.

“Honestly, this year there was so much emotion behind people just being together in one room,” said Sheley. “I think that was the biggest message and takeaway. As president of this IIDA chapter, I was a little emotional, just seeing everyone together again and celebrating a common cause. There was so much unity and encouragement. It truly was beautiful.”

Along with designing an out-of-this-world dress, the team also had to create a video and band poster.

“I was terrified to walk down the runway. Our dress was much bigger than the catwalk and I kept thinking how am I going to turn around in this big dress and not fall off the stage?” laughed Akinsanya. “So, I was so terrified, but I psyched myself up and once I heard the song, I thought I’m just going to have fun with it, and I sure did.”

“Working with all of my interior design colleagues on something outside of our core project work was just so fun. We’d put on music and just hang out,” said Sheley. “It was an amazing team-building endeavor that we’ve been working hard on since June.”

The Unravel fashion show is a kick-off to the Unravel Reveal which will be held on December 15 at the Central Library in St. Louis. All 16 dresses that competed in the event will be on display. During the event, IIDA will be collecting monetary donations and canned goods for the St. Louis Food Bank.