Jeffrey Atlanta & UrbanCouture

by Mary Alice Hull


A few Fridays ago I had the pleasure of joining Vincent Martinez and his fashion students at Jeffrey Atlanta for one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable breakfasts of which I have had the honor to be a part.

This particular morning came about following the showcase of Vincent’s students amazing work at the “Doggies on the Catwalk” a few weeks prior. Don Purcell, Jeffrey Atlanta's General Manager, and friend Cathleen Smith, were sitting together at the show. They were amazed that high school students could produce such profound work! The two were so impressed with the students that they decided that it would be extremely fun and of course educational (this was during school!) to have the students come in, before regular work hours,  to Jeffrey Atlanta and see the work of some of the world’s top designers!

[caption id="attachment_6980" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="Don Purcell talks about Lanvin and it's deconstructed details."]don-purcell-jeffrey-atlanta-urbancouture-malori-rodriguez-mary-alice-hull-lanvin-vincent-martinezfashionado[/caption]

This is an opportunity that might only come about for those amateur designers chosen for Project Runway and clearly is not something that many of us are privy to.  With the opportunity at hand, Vincent jumped at the chance and here we are; Friday morning at Jeffrey Atlanta. I had never been inside Jeffrey before, but being familiar with the store after attending and working Jeffrey Fashion Cares this past fall, I believed that I was walking into a business that is generous and unbelievably kind, and my beliefs were proven accurate.

The breakfast began at 9AM and as I walked through the halls of Phipps Plaza  I couldn’t help but feel a delighted giddiness about walking into Jeffrey Atlanta, before hours to enjoy an audience with the man who knows it all! Don Purcell, gave precise details to each piece of clothing  as well as it’s designer’s background. Who gets that chance? One could google a designer all day long and read about their background and what got them started, their inspirations, etc. but the energy that was created from Don and his expansive wealth of knowledge was something that truly can’t be found on the internet, much less in the usual high school classroom. It was like butter hearing him talk.


As someone who would like to fancy themselves knowledgeable about fashion and tries to be cutting edge and on the brink, I was mesmerized. Then I saw the student’s faces and I realized that their absorption was on a level beyond my own. It was easy to understand because Don captured the room not only with his content but with his passion. Suddenly, it was very clear to me that the students recognized this as a rare and treasured opportunity. Don cast vision for these future designers, he made them believe that they could accomplish greater things, but also modeled the courage that their dreams, like his own could come true.

It was a privilege for me to observe and to be a part of this inspiration for future designers. I won’t forget it. But I suspect that my own appreciation is a fraction of the gratitude felt by the future designers themselves. Thank you Don and Vincent for the opportunity!

[caption id="attachment_6982" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="UrbanCouture designer, Lindy Menefee, takes a closer look at an exquisite Proenza Schouler dress."]lindy-menefe-proenza-schouler-vincent-martinez-malori-rodriguez-urbancouture-fashionado[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_6984" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="Vincent Martinez, Tom Espinoza and Chris McClellan are as mesmerized by Don Purcell as much as the UrbanCouture designers are."]vincent-martinez-don-purcell-malori-rodriguez-jeffrey-atlanta-fashionado[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_6985" align="aligncenter" width="478" caption="All photos by Malori Rodriguez."]malori-rodriguez-jeffrey-atlanta-fashionado[/caption]