Designing Woman Does It Her Way

Frank Sinatra struck a chord when he sang “I did it my way.” Artist/designer Denise Proctor heard the call. It defined her life. She poured her artistic spirit and her soul into her vision for a school for little fashionistas – the Westchester Fashion Institute. From her perch on the 6th floor of ArtsWestchester’s building, she attracted hundreds of girls to her classes, mentored them all with her creative magic, and sadly passed away too soon. She built the school with grit, tenacity and courage one mannequin at a time.  Step by step, stitch by stitch, she acquired sewing machines materials and, yes, glitter. She taught the girls to design, drape and sew. But more importantly she taught them how to shape their own image and identity. She turned awkward preteens into young ladies who liked themselves. They embraced their body images and enhanced them with style. It was not just sewing, draping, and drawing. It was transformational. Nothing daunted Denise. She turned our hallways into runways, with delighted girls strutting their stuff. Paper towels, plastic wrapping and shopping bags were all reused in the creation of unique dresses and pocketbooks. Denise was someone who did it her way. Her legacy is not the dress or the wrap, but the girls who will bring their self assurance into our lives.

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