By Misty Volaski
Dominique Pearl David said at the very beginning of the show — people are probably going to write her off. “But that’s OK,” she said with her usual breezy air. “I’ll prove them wrong.”
And she has. David began as the inexperienced youngster but has quickly become a potent force on the Bravo TV show “Fashion Show: The Ultimate Collection.”
After three episodes (the fourth came last night), David has created an Iman-inspired white cocktail dress with graceful yet powerful details; a sensual pale peach tube dress in flowing tissue-like fabrics based on “Bodies … The Exhibition”; and a black dress with a rich purple kimono-like jacket which received praise from the judging panel.
“Isaac (Mizrahi, a judge) is starting to take my side, acknowledging that I’m talented — oh yeah, this girl’s got it down!” David said. “That really helps. It’s confirmation that I’m doing the right thing.”
The Ojai native earned that praise with solid looks that stay true to her design style — what she’s described as fairy tale meets geisha. But what is setting David apart is her ability to absorb criticism and incorporate judges’ suggestions into her pieces without losing the “Dominique” factor.
“Being able to take the criticism and use it constructively” is everything, she said. “Maybe the hem was wrong, but next time, you know. If you changed it by 2 inches, it’s better. OK!”
If she’s going to win the $125,000 and a spread in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, she’ll have to overcome more than just criticism. Besides competing against established designers like Cesar Galindo and Calvin Tran, who have been in the industry since David was in grammar school, David is battling long nights, tight deadlines, limited budgets and sometimes-prickly judges — not to mention some strong personalities on the show. But while some of the other designers spend their time clashing with one another, David usually keeps mum.
“I just want to make pretty dresses! I’ve always been pretty easygoing,” she said. “What’s the point of fighting if you don’t need to? I just take it as it comes, try to stay focused on the work we’re there to do.”
That doesn’t mean she’s immune to stress, however. “Getting used to that schedule again, dealing with the different challenges, the people thrown into the mix — it is all very draining,” she acknowledged, “but it’s a matter of having perseverance. You gotta’ get through it and come up with the best ideas you can.”
The sleep deprivation, she laughed, “helped in a twisted way! I’m not unfamiliar with that situation!”
She took a much-needed break from the chaos of New York City to return to Ojai for Thanksgiving last week. It was the first time the family had watched the show together, David said. “It was really motional! It was so comfortable to be home. I have such a supportive family and it was great to watch with them.” She even has her dad Galen using words like “chic,” she laughed.
Although David hasn’t been recognized in New York yet, the support around Ojai has been very positive, she explained. A girl came up to her and said, “‘Oh my God, I’m watching the show!’ and I was thinking, I haven’t seen you since I was a freshman! My dad is getting phone calls every day too. Crazy!”
Last night marked the fourth episode of season two, in which designers and their houses had to create collections based on the contents of time capsules.
Tune in on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on the Bravo Network.