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Fashion designer crafts dress for cancer gala

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Before Columbus fashion designer Lanae Stovall boards a red-eye flight for the Big Apple tonight, one of her latest designs will be modeled on the catwalk in New York City as part of a charity fashion show to benefit cancer awareness.

Each year, Stovall creates a collection to benefit an organization that promotes health awareness, such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Designing for causes gives her work purpose, she said.

“It isn’t just about clothing and making something pretty,” the 26-year-old Stovall said. “I’ve always been a person who loves the idea of causes and organizations that exist for health causes.”

In January, Suzanne Lindley, co-founder and executive director of YES! Beat Liver Tumors, a nonprofit organization created in 2006 to offer resources and support to individuals with liver cancer, contacted Stovall about participating in a charity fundraising gala.

Lanae Stovall

Age: 26

Hometown: Lafayette; moved to Columbus in 2011.

Family: Father, Prentice Sr.; mother, Lorraine; brothers, Peyton and Prentice; fiance, Toby Shelton.

Education: Graduated from Ball State University, 2010; currently pursuing master’s from Academy of Art University, graduating fall 2013.

Business: Lanae Monique Designs

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Stovall will be one of nearly a dozen emerging designers donating their time and talents to creating a dress for a cancer patient from their area whom they had never met. Stovall accepted the invitation to design a dress for 48-year-old Vicki Lehman of Elkhart.

The patients spend a pampered weekend in New York City, where they, too, get to shine on the catwalk, modeling their dress during the evening gala today.

Stovall graduated with a degree in fashion merchandising and apparel design from Ball State University in 2010 and immediately launched her business, Lanae Monique Designs, which offers alterations and custom clothing design.

The Lafayette native moved to Columbus with her fiance, Toby Shelton, in 2011 and is pursuing a master’s degree in apparel design from the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University.

Stovall said she’s had an interest in fashion since receiving her first sewing machine at age 10. She said the opportunity to show her designs on the grand stage in New York has been unbelievable.

After participating in a Midwest Fashion Week show last fall, Stovall accepted an offer by PLITZS Fashion Marketing, a firm that works with emerging designers, to present two of her collections on the runway at The W Hotel in New York City during the biggest seven days in the fashion world, New York City’s Fashion Week.

During the first of several phone conversations with Lehman, Stovall said she learned the woman’s measurements and more about her story.

“She really touched my heart, and that’s why I made the dress red,” Stovall said. “It really takes heart to beat your battles, and she is a strong woman.”

Stovall said the biggest challenge she faced while designing Lehman’s dress, a sequined mermaid-shaped gown of satin and taffeta, was reining in her own perfectionism. She wanted the dress to be absolutely perfect.

Lehman said the opportunity to participate in the show is like a dream. And what has struck her the most about Stovall is her desire to give to the cause.

“It is just phenomenal,” Lehman said. “To know she is so young and involved with charity things, that is so impressive.”

Friday evening, the women will meet for the first time. And both plan to keep in touch long after the spotlights fade.

“There are just no words I could say to thank her for donating and giving me this opportunity,” Lehman said. “The dress is absolutely beautiful.”

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