If you missed the Independent Designer Runway Show at Bellevue Fashion Week on September 23, never fear. We were on hand for the big to-do (which was, truly, one of the finest displays in the city, to date). First, a recap of all the local designers participating in this year's competition:

Daniel Ressa
Rana Ottaviani

Victoria Postolit
Iris Klein

Sophie Karen

Phuong Minh Nguyen

Jeanette Svensk Li

Varsha Agrawal

As for my humble opinion: This was my first year serving on the panel for IDRS. Having attended the past three years' shows and covering all the excitement on our Shop Talk blog, I knew to expect a tremendous level of talent. What I hadn't anticipated was the serious challenge of crowning a champion after five-plus months with this crew. Terri Morgan of TCM models (in charge of the entire production—a feat in itself) has historically commented that she doesn't envy the job of the panel. I understand what she's saying now. The designers were sophisticated, modern, open to critique, and genuinely pleasant sponges in the way that you hope any up-and-comer would be. Each of them took our comments about execution, style, and cohesiveness with a final result that felt unique to the designer, yet distinctively progressive from the day we met them. How does one choose?

Our runner-up, and consequently the people's choice medalist, was Varsha Agrawal of her namesake line, Varsha. The former East Coaster popped on our radar from the get-go with her immense business sense and thoughtful construction. Look at her to replace J. Crew as the name for beautiful women's workwear.

The rest proved more difficult for us judges. Would we choose Daniel Ressa's distinctly Seattle ready-to-wear garments? Affordable, glamorous gowns by Dawson and Deveraux? Rana Ottaviani's Euro-style separates? It was nearly impossible. Yet we did, in the end, settle on one talent in particular.

Phuong Minh Nguyen is the 2015 Independent Designer Runway Show champion. In the end, it came down to these questions: "Who is pushing their respective field to new heights? Who can we see as the designer of the future?"

It was clear. In a field with an extreme sense of tradition and ritual, Nguyen broke the mold by showcasing elegant gowns with modern accents, colors, and styles. Not to mention that her tailoring was impeccable and her understanding of the female female form outstanding.

Click through our slide shows for images of all the designers' runway looks. 

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