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The Designer Behind Amelia’s Red Runway Dress

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — February is Go Red month to raise awareness about heart disease. This Sunday is the Red Dress Collection runway show to benefit the American Heart Association.

Talented designers here in Minnesota are creating the dresses. Our own, Amelia Santaniello, is one of 15 women getting the wonderful opportunity to model one.

The design process is not only fascinating, but so is the story behind her designer, Richard Beckel, who is finally living his dream after years in the business world.

Amelia tells us more about his work — and the design for her dress.

Designing a dress takes talent and time.

Beckel first met with me almost two months ago, and once I approved his sketches, he got down to business sewing a practice garment out of muslin.

It’s a cheap, white material that only costs $4 a yard and gives Beckel a chance to test the design and fit.

With a few tweaks here, and a few pins there, the dress starts to take shape.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

This style is called “fit and flare” and it comes from a designer who’s finally getting a chance to show us what he has to offer.

“I’ve been doing this all of six weeks now, as my career,” he said. “I’ve been designing for 20 years on the side.”

Beckel studied couture in Paris in 1990 but then took a financial services job to finance his design dreams.

He took a break from business in 2004 to study at the famous Parson’s School in New York, home of “Project Runway.”

But even after that, he went back to work at Ameriprise until a couple months ago.

“Either I do it now, or I’ll never do it,” he said.

So he took the leap, launching his design career with this runway show at the Calhoun Beach Club.

His collection is called Primeau, inspired by the classic styles of his gorgeous mother, who looked like a movie star.

He’s designing custom garments, hoping to expand into local boutiques and building momentum by designing in this show.

“I’ve been more anxious about this design than I have about any other design, because I know there is a lot riding on this,” he said.

Not to worry. Not with the fabulous fabric he found during a trip to New York.

It cost $130 a yard but is amazing.

“It was a eureka moment. That’s it, that’s it, that’s what I’ve been looking for,” Beckel said.

Now the real work begins, creating the real garment in time for my next fitting. And waiting for my approval.

Needless to say, I love it. But the dress isn’t done yet. There’s still one fitting left and one major addition.

“And then there will be a voluminous train that comes out for about a yard,” Beckel said.

And after all this time and effort, I can’t wait to see — and wear — the finished product.

Along with the fashion show, there’s also a silent auction – and all the money raised goes toward the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program.

The event is this Sunday, Feb. 17 from 6-9 p.m. at the Graves 601 Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.

For tickets to the show, click here.

Curiocity: Q&A With Richard Beckel

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