Project IMA: 5 Questions with Designer Jessica Wright

Designers and fashionistas alike will flock to the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Oct. 11 for Project IMA, a runway couture show and contest featuring local and national talents. This year’s inspiration comes from four legendary designers whose work is currently on display at the museum: Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Roy Halston, and Stephen Sprouse. To get a sneak peek at the show, we caught up with one of this year’s contestants, Indiana native Jessica Wright.

How did you first get interested in fashion?

I grew up sewing. I got my first sewing machine from my grandma when I was five, so that was just a part of our lives. I didn’t realize you could actually make it a career until my senior year of high school.

What’s the inspiration for the dress you created this year?

It was a black Halston tulle dress that really caught my eye. My design is a combination of that and one of Bill Blass’ most famous quotes: “When in doubt, wear red.”

How would you describe it?

The bodice features “shadow folding,” which is basically origami with fabric using a geometric pattern.

Sounds like painstaking work. How long did it take you?

So far I have put about 93 hours worth of work into this dress—and I haven’t even gotten to the liner. I am living, eating, breathing this thing.  [Note: Wright’s new dress for Project IMA contest entry is yet to be finished.]

In the past, Indy didn’t have a particularly good reputation for fashion. Do you think that’s changing?

Indianapolis just needs to come see this show. I think they’ll be surprised how much talent we hold.


Project IMA will consist of two shows, one at 6:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at

Pictured: Jessica Wright’s origami dress; photos by Sharon Wright (side) and Gino Malusek (front)

Wright’s red dress on model Erica Stikeleather (Model Wars runway, Chicago, November 2010); photo by Devon Ginn

Wright herself plays as two models lean over piano (Model Wars, Chicago, November 2010)