Designer competes in Oscar gown contest

By Bertha Serrano

Aside from winning the coveted golden statue at the Oscars, fashion has become another key element to the Academy Awards ceremony throughout the years.

For the first time ever, a chosen up-and-coming designer will be joining the fame and glory of movie stars, directors and writers at the movie industry’s most important night of the year.

Originally from Evanston, Ill., and a former student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, designer Moire Conroy is one of seven designers participating in the first Oscars designer challenge. After seven years of working in the industry, this will be the first time she has been involved in a competition like this.

After leaving the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006, Conroy won various awards from the institution and later went on to study in Paris.

Today, she works with various designer lines, including Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren. She has also designed pieces for musicians Nick Cave and Rashid Johnson.

Other emerging international designers competing against Conroy include Maria Pinto, Alan del Rosario, Sam Kori George, Nicolas Putvinski, Marianne Kooimans and Robert Rodriguez.

Conroy talked to The Chronicle about how she got involved with the competition, her hopes for the future and what winning the competition would mean for her career.

The Chronicle: What recent projects are you involved in?

Moire Conroy: My collection is available at Robin Richman, [2108 N. Damen Ave.]. I’m just about to show my fall/winter collection for fall 2009, and that is based off of patterns and kaleidoscopes.

What was your inspiration for the Oscar gown?

The dress that I did for the Oscars was based off of a different inspiration. It was off of the ’60s summer of love in San Francisco.

How did you get involved with this contest?

I was initially contacted by Gen Art Chicago, which I had shown with about two years ago, and they asked if I would be interested in submitting designs for the Oscar red carpet gowns, and I said yes. At that point, the director of fashion, Patty Fox, came in contact with me from the Academy. I submitted three designs, and I was one of seven finalists chosen.

How does the contest work?

The designs [were] posted at [on] Feb. 10 starting at 3 p.m., and the public votes for it. It’s open for anyone to go and vote. That goes on through the 17th of February, and on Feb. 18, the winner is notified. And much will remain silent until Feb. 22 at the Oscar’s, and they will announce who the winner was with the red carpet design.

Do you know who’s going to wear the gown if you win?

A statuette model who’s staged throughout the evening presenting the awards with the celebrities.

What will this mean for your career if you win?

It would be a wonderful chance for exposure, to be known internationally and nationally as a designer and show what I do. I’m sure I will get in contact with a broader audience.

What’s next for you?

I have certain celebrities in mind that I would like to design for, and I hope that they see this, and I can come in contact with [them]. I hope this gives me the exposure that I need to build my business.

To vote in the Oscar designer challenge and view the designers’ dresses, go to