Cody High Style

Posted 9/27/11

For Lacy Winninger of Powell, this year’s show was a particularly momentous event when she became the first Park County designer to exhibit a line of clothing in the annual style show.

Winninger said she helped with the style show two years …

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Cody High Style


Winninger’s clothing line included in show

Last week’s Cody High Style Fashion Show at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center was a success as usual, wowing two full-house audiences anxious to get an up-close look at new styles in classic and contemporary Western fashion.

For Lacy Winninger of Powell, this year’s show was a particularly momentous event when she became the first Park County designer to exhibit a line of clothing in the annual style show.

Winninger said she helped with the style show two years ago. As a student at Colorado State University majoring in apparel design and merchandising, she was encouraged to apply for a fellowship with the historical center. Her application proposed that she develop a line of clothing for the style show after volunteering time to help with the “Dressed Just Right” Western clothing exhibit (now on display at the center.)

Her fellowship began earlier this year, and Winninger said the two projects dovetailed well to give her the experience she needed.

“I was able to volunteer a lot with ‘Dressed Just Right,’ then, basically through volunteering, I gained more knowledge and inspiration about Western design and used that as inspiration for my line of Western clothing,” she said.

Winninger said she aimed to design clothing that had an artistic Western flair but still was “wearable” — unique, but functional.

“I did an eclectic line,” she said, consisting of six outfits for women for a variety of occasions, ranging from a full-length bridal gown to an above-the-knee deerskin leather skirt with matching boots and headband. It also included two outfits for men, including a men’s Western shirt and coat.

“I went for a country, simplistic design,” she said. “I used the same colors throughout, but tried to show I’m versatile.”

She used all-natural materials such as cotton, fur, silk and leather, and embellished them with deer and elk antler accessories — belt buckles, buttons, earrings and bracelets — she designed and made herself.

Winninger said she enjoyed that design process so much that she is considering working up a line of accessories to market in the future.

“I stayed away from the whole bling sparkly thing that goes on with country,” she said. “I was inspired by the materials I used.”

That process began as she was doing research for the “Dressed Just Right” exhibit.

Winninger said her line was one of only a few in the show in which designers did both the design and made their own clothing.

“A lot of the designs in the show were premanufactured lines that were not necessarily handmade,” she said.

Looking back, Winninger said she would make some changes if she were to do it again — but that almost always is true, she added.

Although she worked on her line all summer, “It would have been nice to have more time to work on it,” she said. “You always work up to the last minute, and there’s always more you want to do. It seems like with the creative process, you’re never done; there’s always something more you want to do. That’s the hardest part.”

Winninger chose eight models with Powell ties to show off her line of Western clothing. They were Ceanna White, Ashley Good and Taylor Swenson, all Powell High School students; Mikayla Walsh and Jess Kramer, Northwest College students; Courtnie Trustem, a Powell native; Cory Pendley and Winninger’s brother, Nate Winninger.

She said White wants to work in the fashion industry and enjoyed being involved in the Cody High Style Fashion Show.

Walsh said modeling the fringed deerskin skirt outfit for Winninger gave her the chance to experience runway modeling for the first time.

“It was really fun,” she said. “It was a great experience. I would definitely do it again.”

Winninger said she would as well. She would welcome that chance to further explore her talents and style in Western design.

After working to make this collection eclectic in nature, she likely would make the next one more cohesive and consistent.

“I’m still trying to narrow down the exact line that I want to do,” she said. “I really like Western, but I’m not sure where within that realm” she wants to specialize.

“If they give me an opportunity to be a part of it next year, I would love to do that,” she said.

Armstrong receives best in show honors

Powell designer and craftsman Scott E. Armstrong won the Cody High Style’s prestigious Best in Show award for his Concertina Table, a contemporary Western-style piece.

Armstrong, of Powell’s Arrowleaf Studio, blends his love for contemporary art with a unique Western flair.

“My work is shaped by 35 years of artistic and creative learning, living and working. Growing up in northern Wyoming nurtured my independent spirit and love of natural materials,” Armstrong said in his artist’s statement.

An inlay along the Concertina Table is a graphic representation of barbed wire, while the feet are carved out to look like tops of cowboy boots. The work is based on a contemporary table he did in 1994, and Armstrong said he wanted to make it more Western.

A fourth-generation Wyomingite, Armstrong said his style continues evolving into more Western, but he maintains a distinctive contemporary design in his unique functional pieces of furniture.

“The spirit of the West is intrinsic in every piece,” he said.

Armstrong’s unique design and craftsmanship are recognizable for smooth lines and use of wood veneer. Veneer is a decorative technique where very thin pieces of wood are glued onto a piece of furniture.

Armstrong said many traditional Western artists use wood with a rough, tactile texture. He veers off toward a more modern look.

“I use woods that visually give you the same texture, but are smooth to the touch,” he said.

The Concertina Table is crafted from figured ash, zebra wood and sapele.

Armstrong loves working with wood.

“Wood is an almost perfect medium,” he said in an artist’s statement. “It’s strong, light and flexible. You can shape it, carve it, join it and color it with low-tech equipment. It is also warm and very beautiful.”

After receiving his bachelor’s of fine arts in industrial design from the Kansas City Art Institute, Armstrong returned to Wyoming and has operated his Arrowleaf Studio business with his family since 1992.

The Cody High Style show is put on through the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and Cody Western Artisans, and Armstrong credited the historical center staff for everything they do to make the show possible each year.

“Giving us a venue to show (our work) makes all the difference,” Armstrong said. The show is a driving force behind many of the pieces, he said.

In 2008, Armstrong received the Cody High Style show’s Exhibitors’ Choice Award and the Switchback Ranch Purchase Award. He also won the Exhibitors’ Choice Award during his first Cody High Style show in 2007.