Chicago Designer Dresses Grammy Nominee

Borris Powell building on his own buzz

Ralphi Rosario and Borris Powell Design

Like many music lovers, Chicago designer Borris Powell was glued to the live coverage of the Grammys Sunday night.

Powell collected his close friends to watch the awards show, but he had more on his mind than catching the Adele performance -- he was hoping to see one of his creations on stage.

Powell dressed one of the nominees, Chicago's Ralphi Rosaria, who was up for a Grammy for remixing Rihanna's "Only Girl (In the World)." Rosario was sporting a Powell creation, a slim fit, one button navy suit with a silk satin shawl collar and steel blue silk lining with gold trim.

Rosario (pictured, right) didn't win the award, but the fact that a nominee was wearing a Powell design -- and it potentially could have been displayed before a national TV audience -- is the latest feather in the cap for the talented Chicago designer who hasn't even released a full men's collection yet.

"It's perfect timing, because I can't think of a better way to launch the men's line than by having a big name wearing my suit," Powell says. "People know me for designing female clothing, so this is just what I need as I re-invent myself.

Last year, Powell won the Oscar Design Competition, which meant an appearance on the Oscar red carpet and his design being worn by one of the models on stage throughout the show. The residual effect was immediate.

"People are jumping on the bandwagon and people want to support me. I've gone from doing maybe a custom dress a month to 5, 10 and 20 dresses a month.

And it's all been built by word-of-mouth referrals and without the benefit of paid advertising, something Powell knows he'll eventually have to do one day.

"It's a pretty big penny, but the effect that you get from these big magazines and the visibility they give you, you can't discount, so eventually we'll do a major magazine editorial shoot," Powell says. "For now, I need to make sure I have everything situated with my business so I'm prepared to handle that next level."

Powell will present his Fall/Winter 2012 Collection "Without a Shadow of a Doubt" on March 18th at the River East Art Center.

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