Young designer makes local debut before heading to New York

Authored By Mary Barnett

Last week Madison Waldrop started her first day of high school.

This week the 14 year-old is debuting 13 dresses she designed as part of her her first fashion line of evening wear during a runway show at the Hunter Museum of American Art Thursday evening.

No biggie.


What: “Naturally” Fashion Show

Where: Hunter Museum of American Art

When: Thursday, August 24, 5:30 – 8 p.m.

How much: Admission is $9.95 for the general public and free to Hunter members.

Help: Bring a new pair of shoes or socks for those in need to benefit the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.

Follow Madison online

When this talented, grounded and focused teen was 13 she had already been interviewed by the New York Times for the article “The Kiddie Couturiers”, inspired the design for a custom wedding dress by Atlanta based bridal designer Annette Thurmon, of Chaviano Couture, and started her own charity network called KEYS.

After her local debut, Waldrop is planning a trip to New York City in October to introduce her Designs By Malyse bridal line to buyers during the Wedding Channel Couture Show.

Waldrop said as exciting as it sounds she makes sure it doesn’t take priority over her family, friends and faith. And getting through high school.

“This is not controlling my life. There are different rooms to this house. One room is designing. I spend a lot of time in that room, yes, but it is the foundation of friends, family and my faith that keeps me going,” Waldrop said.

Thursday evening Waldrop will be showcasing a new line she calls “Naturally” and said it is “a bold edgy modern take on classic design.”

“It’s called ‘Naturally’ because it is derived from what I’ve come to find I can do naturally. And that is design dresses,” she said.

Waldrop’s mother, Christine Waldrop, discovered her daughter’s natural talent as she watched her making sketches in a notebook while the family waited for a plane at the airport early last year. 

“I contacted a friend who knew a designer in Atlanta and she invited us to a photo shoot so the two could meet,” Waldrop said.

From there, the young designer showed her sketches and was immediately encouraged by several design professionals to continue.

“That was the boost of confidence she needed to to fully realize maybe she was really good at this,” Waldrop said.

Madison believes confidence is the key to many things and she wants to make the best use out of her talents for more than just fashion.

“Out of everything I’m doing, yes, I have goals to be a great designer and accomplish many things with that talent. But my biggest goal of all is to be a positive role model throughout every single action that I do. I believe you should be confident in who you are, you should believe in what you are doing and know that what you are doing is right,” she said.

The fashion show is part of the Hunter Museum’s Thursday evening “Hunter Happens” programs designed to expose and engage the community with the current exhibits through an event series featuring film, music, talks and demonstrations.

Hunter Curator of Education Adera Causey said Waldrop was inspired by the current StarCraft exhibition and Beverly Semmes’ use of color and fabric.

“In fact, one photo in the show of a vibrant flouncy textile on a rug so inspired her that she created a design from it, something she will note in the show itself,” Causey said.

Waldrop said she relates to Semmes on more than one level.

“Semmes wants to inspire young women to do things in their lives. And to follow their talents. That is something that I am trying to do, to empower people. I’m following my dreams this way but each person has different talents of their own. Together, we should find ways to cultivate our own talents and recognize talent in others,” she said.