The North Texan, Volume 39, Number 3, Summer 1989 Page: 9
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Dallas designer Bonnie Boynton and a student
pair a leopard-print skirt with a black jacket.
Ms. Boynton herself designs five collections
a year, each averaging 100 pieces.
jnd the whole department that way. I'm a big sup-
Wrter of NT."
Her first job, in fact was obtained through 'a professor.
"I wanted to be a buyer, they wanted me to be a designer.
I said I couldn't draw well enough. But I knew being a
children's wear designer would be a good experience so I
began designing sizes 3-6X."
Seeking new challenges, Ms. Boynton later designed
for two junior apparel manufacturers, Sunny Isle and Mr.
Fine, in Dallas. In 1973, she entered Florida State Uni-
versity where she earned a master's degree in design in
In returning to the design field after graduation, she
moved on to Nardis of Dallas, a manufacturer of better
dresses, where she worked days designing dresses and
nights establishing The Good Ship Enterprise.
That a successful person must always maintain a cer-
tain drive is a fact she's quick to share with today's stu-
dents. Ms. Boynton is a frequent visitor on campus for
events sponsored by NTs Center for Marketing and De-
sign, which incorporates classes in the art department,
School of Human Resource Management and the Col-
lege of Business Administration.
Recently, Ms. Boynton spent a day working with
students on designs they would present during the
Artwear show at the Dallas Apparel Mart. "I was inter-
ested in what they were thinking and what their future
plans are. If they are creative, they can learn the design
industry. But how they are thinking to get there is what
interested me more. They were all pursuing (design)
from different angles and reasons."
The ways in which students plan to use their degrees
brought home memories of skills Ms. Boynton learned
as a student and found useful in her own career.
"I did a tour of schools and I enrolled at the University
of Texas for one semester, Texas Tech for three
semesters and ended up at North Texas. North Texas was
the one that taught me how to get ready for a career."
hearing from professors about the careers of other
uates and how NT had helped them gave her added
insight into the fashion field. "It was very real and I was
as prepared to start working as you can possibly be," she
said. "And the accessibility to Dallas is strong. Dallas is
such a good fashion center that you learn a lot just by
But some skills can't be learned in the classroom.
"The people skills," she said, "are the hardest to teach at
any school and the most painfully learned. You can learn
the skills of your trade, but learning how to deal with
people who feel threatened by you is something else."
The greatest need that can be filled in college is mak-
ing sure that all fashion students be required to know
how to use all the machinery necessary for putting to-
gether what they have drawn on paper. "Knowing how to
thread and use a serger, button tacker and commercial
single-needle sewing machine, for example, will make
them invaluable to me in industry and will ensure their
jobs," she said.
And if she ever is asked to give a commencement
address, her theme will center on flexibility.
"The first thing (a person should do) is remain entirely
flexible. Anyone who has been out of school for a while
knows that whatever we thought we were going to do,
we are doing something else.
"So, unless in your heart - and there are those who
are committed to one thing and they know what they are
doing - I just think when you are real flexible, you are
going to end up in positions you didn't dream of while
you were in school.
"The other thing is to follow your own star. Don't let
people talk you out of doing anything. If your heart says
'Do it,' you should do it. If your heart says, "Go to New
York,' then go to New York.
"There are so many reasons not to do things that you
have to hold to your convictions." And Ms. Boynton
knows about convictions. Hers is evident in the Bonnie
Boynton label in apparel worn by women throughout the
University of North Texas The North Texan
To most people, compliments at parties are things to
be accepted kindly and forgotten. For NT alumna Holly
Harp, those compliments led to a career - and a $3
million-a-year business - in fashion designing.
Ms. Harp was living in Acapulco because she decided
Radcliffe College was not for her. Because there were no
ready-made clothes to buy, she designed her own and had
seamstresses make them. Although she said she was
"sort of forced" into designing, her party dresses were
"I received so many compliments on the clothes I de-
signed and wore to parties. I remember distinctly how
easy it was for me to do this," she said.
Realizing she had a knack for design, Ms. Harp de-
cided to study fashion and make designing her career.
Her family had moved to the North Texas area from
the East during the Depression, so NT was the logical
choice for a school. She earned a degree in art in 1967
and was named a Distinguished Alumna in 1979. "The
main asset of my education at NT was the superb art
design evening dresses.
That's just my niche, as it develop
My personal approach to
working clothes is I try to have a
bit of fun and fantasy. I don't
design the very severe, minimalist
clothes. My preferred look is
with a bit of wit thrown into it.'
Because the Center for Marketing and Design had not
yet been established, Ms. Harp took courses in home
ed. economics to learn the sewing skills she needed. Her
father had his doubts about Ms. Harp's learning a trade.
"He said, 'Well, what about your education, my dear?'
Education to him was learning Latin or something like
that," she said. However, she learned her share of history
- through fashion history in the art department. And
the education has served her well.
In the late 1960s, she designed for Janis Joplin, Grace
r'p Slick, Joni Mitchell, Diana Ross and Cher. "One of the
first layouts I had in Vogue was for Cher," she said.
C Ms. Harp designed a dress for Barbra Streisand to wear
to the premiere of "Yentl." "I don't do custom designing.
I do a line of clothing," Ms. Harp said. She might adapt
a color, for example, to someone's specific tastes.
Such success did not come easy. In the late 1960s,
she worked hard on a business while raising a child. In-
cluding her job at home, she worked 17-hour days. "It
was a hard decade," she said.
Ms. Harp was spending her time building a retail
business, a shop on Sunset Boulevard. In 1985 she
closed to concentrate on the wholesale business she'd
given up for the store in 1980. Now that she has her
wholesale business organized and staffed with gg94peo-
pie, she enjoys that more than she did her boutique.
"The problem with having a retail store anda whole-
sale business is you're running two completely different
businesses," she said.
And Ms. Harp keeps her own eyes glued to her busi-
ness affairs. "I became very sophisticated about this -
sometimes the hard way. I think it's very important for a
woman not to be helpless in that area," she said.
While overseeing the hard realities of running a busi-
ness, she keeps one foot firmly rooted in fantasy with
"I design evening dresses. That's just my niche, as it
developed. My personal approach to working clothes is I
try to have a bit of fun and fantasy. I don't design the
very severe, minimalist clothes. My preferred look is
with a bit of wit thrown into it.
"I basically have a very irreverent approach to life. I
don't always follow what is considered good taste. It
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University of North Texas. The North Texan, Volume 39, Number 3, Summer 1989, periodical, Summer 1989; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc119053/m1/9/: accessed February 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.