University Art Professor offered a historic opportunity

2/4/2011 - By: Nonie Wainwright
Drawing of two Victorian dresses University Art Professor Gini Vogel’s Victorian-inspired dress designed for Nevada’s First Lady will be on display at a downtown art gallery starting Feb. 8.

Over a thousand people gathered Saturday, Jan. 29 in the downtown Reno Ballroom to attend the 30th Annual Inaugural Governors Ball. Among them was University of Nevada, Reno Art Professor Virginia Vogel who received a ticket through a direct request from Nevada's First Lady Kathleen Sandoval. As Vogel sat at her table, she awaited the arrival of the Sandoval family and the debut of something very personal to her.

Vogel, a professor and local designer has designed more than 300 costumes for theater productions before her latest work, a ball gown for the First Lady.

“Since I designed the gown, Mrs. Sandoval requested that I attend the ball,” Vogel said. “I really don’t go to those types of special occasions; I had several feelings of nervousness.”

Vogel’s feelings of unease quickly faded away as the Sandoval family entered the ball room.

“When Mrs. Sandoval first walked in the room she looked radiant, and I received a lot of positive feedback which eased my nerves,” Vogel said.

The design process started when Vogel was approached by Governor Sandoval’s Deputy Chief of Staff in mid December, 2010, with the opportunity to design and create Kathleen Sandoval’s dress. The decision was made after only one meeting between Mrs. Sandoval and Vogel before the first cut of fabric was made on Dec. 12.

“I felt like I was working under a lot of pressure,” Vogel said. “Everyone always has an opinion about fashion, but most importantly it was Mrs. Sandoval’s opinion that mattered most to me.”

“The dress had to be comfortable, it needed to make a statement about her, and let her shine at the Ball.”

According to Vogel, the Victorian-inspired gown reflects Sandoval’s values.

“She represents the all-American, western woman.” Vogel said. “Mrs. Sandoval is independent, elegant and practical; the dress reflects these characteristics.” 

The dress has a bronze, straight skirt with and chartreuse green overlay and two different jackets with lace and beading and two bodices, one chiffon and one lace with beading to matching the lace used on the skirt.

During the Inaugural Governors Ball, Vogel’s wonderful experience came to a head as the Governor asked to meet her in person.

“It was such an honor to meet the Governor and to be able to take part in something so historic,” Vogel said. “The connection I now have as being a local designer with the First Lady is something that I will never get over.” 

Vogel is preparing a personal art exhibit, held at Reno’s Medio Mundo art gallery on 205 Vassar St. Feb. 8-12 with an opening reception held at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10.

The dress worn my Sandoval will be on display at the exhibit among several other pieces of artwork ranging from bead art, thread art and textile. Costumes designed by Vogel for the UNR Fall Dance Festival, “Shanghaied,” will also be on display at the exhibit.

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