DALLAS (AP) — London Burton calls her eye-catching jumpsuit designs her "God-given gift."
The Dallas Morning News reports the designer, who lives in Cedar Hill, never received formal training in fashion design. Burton is an Army veteran who served as a combat medic and then a nurse for more than 11 years.
Starting Haute Société was a leap of faith for Burton and her husband, business partner and fashion photographer Kauwaune Burton.
"It happened pretty fast. 'I don't know if I could do this,' I'd say. But I started putting sketches together. And for me, it was about setting a date (to launch the line). Once I set a date and then I told somebody, then it made me accountable for it," she says.
Her latest collection of high-end jumpsuits is called "In The Trenches," taking inspiration from her military background. Jumpsuits in this collection feature high necklines and collars, with dark colors and brass buttons. Pieces range from $350 to $900. Her line is available to order online only. Burton also offers custom sizing services to local clients.
Jumpsuits have become a popular fashion choice and can be a bold statement piece for events and work.
Kim Olusanya, a small business owner based in Dallas, says that Burton's pieces are ones that she wears for both casual and special occasions.
"She has things that are versatile for both ways," she says. "It's an investment, but it's going to last."
Some clothes from department stores aren't as well made, she says. "I take them to the cleaners and the zippers stopped working. I don't have that problem with (Burton's) pieces."
Here are more facts about the local designer:
1. Burton is anti-dress.
She doesn't like wearing dresses. The entrepreneur's design specialty is the jumpsuit, which has been a central part of each collection launch. "In The Trenches" is the designer's third in her first year.
"Dresses are beautiful, but they're not comfortable. Just like heels aren't comfortable," Burton says.
2. Tyra Banks wore her design in a recent stop in Dallas.
As a self-funded designer, Burton says it can be hard to grow the brand. Sometimes, she doubted herself in her first year. That all changed when she got a phone call asking her to dress supermodel and TV personality Tyra Banks in her Red Dawn Suit piece. Banks wore the outfit for an awards event in Dallas. When a celebrity chooses to wear a designer's clothes, that can create a valuable buzz.
"It was an amazing moment for me as a designer, and as a black woman looking at Tyra and growing up seeing the things she accomplished," Burton said.
3. Proceeds from her latest collection are going to charity.
Burton is passionate about giving back, especially for causes that support women and veterans.
The three charities that Haute Société will be giving to are Power to Give Foundation, the Source of Hope and the Veteran Women's Enterprise Center.
4. She's thinking about a jumpsuit bridal collection.
Burton says she's thinking of designs for a bridal collection, aimed at a bride who wants a daring look on her big day.
5. Her dream is to dress Michelle Obama and Rihanna.
It's been a few years since Rihanna performed in Dallas. But the former first lady is scheduled to visit this month as a part of her book tour.
"I'm putting that into prayer and action," she says with a laugh.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com