Fashion / Shopping

Women Power Takes on New Meaning in This Fashion Week Show With a Major Texas Tie

Female Run and Female Founded Label Breaks the Rules

BY // 09.12.19

NEW YORK — Don’t let the name Burnett New York fool you. The buzzy new fashion label has an East Coast name, but there’s a fierce Texas connection.

Co-founder Sterling McDavid, who was raised in Fort Worth, has teamed with designer Emily Burnett, an Arizona native, to form one of the few women-run brands in the fashion business. The duo presented the brand’s second New York Fashion Week show, after debuting last season, and chose a charming outdoor venue, the Elizabeth Street Garden, to showcase a colorful spring collection.

“We’re doing something very different and I think it really speaks true to our brand’s DNA, which has always been about recognizing all women,” McDavid explains. “We call our brand’s aesthetic ‘feminine fierce,’ because we believe it’s okay for a woman to embrace her femininity but also have a fierce element to her personality as well.”

For this collection, Burnett added a touch of Dali-like whimsy to a number of pieces, with an abstract butterfly pattern on crisp blazers and slinky evening gowns in bright emerald, magenta and cobalt blue. Burnett previously was creative director at Dennis Basso, and her crisp tailoring and incorporation of furs in some pieces recall her previous tenure with the longtime designer/furrier.

She also features a number of gowns, tops and skirts in a multi-color floral pattern that matched the garden surroundings.

“One of the things we’ve learned about our woman is she wants more color and she’s okay being bold,” McDavid says.

As at their previous runway show, Burnett and McDavid featured a diverse range of models of various ages, ethnicities, sizes, and sexual orientations who espouse causes dear to their heart. Burnett’s friend, Canadian model Grace Mahary who founded Project Tsehigh, a nonprofit that provides energy to impoverished communities around the world, walked the runway in a hazelnut charmeuse pleated halter gown and accompanied the designer on her runway at the end of show

Burnett New York ice pink and multi-tulle floral gown. (Photo courtesy of Burnett New York)

At about the same time, three excited guests seated on the first row jumped up and struck a pose on the runway. The crowd eagerly applauded model and activist Flaviana Matata, actress Damaris Lewis, and America’s Next Top Model winner Dani Evans, who are big supporters of the brand and it’s “women power” theme.

Also viewing the show were Houstonians Kelley Lubanko, Jordan Seff, and Vanessa Ames.

“You look at this industry and women are so underrepresented in senior roles,” says McDavid, who serves as Burnett president and is responsible for sales, marketing, and finance. “And often women are never even asked to invest in brands. Many times, even when a woman is a breadwinner in the household, people still approach the man to ask for an investment.

“That’s the point we are trying to make. If we are going to ‘by women for all women,’ then we felt strongly we needed to be funded by women, and to our knowledge no one has done what we’ve done.

“More importantly we felt like we needed to do this for other women. We need to do this so other women know they can really gun for their dreams.”

McDavid and Burnett will be in Houston for a personal appearance at Elizabeth Anthony on November 14 and 15.

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - On The Runway Spring 2020