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International fashionista Stella Thomas has designs on Stillwater

Fashion designer Stella Thomas has traveled the world, designing fashions for royalty. Her designs will be featured in An Evening of Art and Fashion on March 16 at Oklahoma State University.
by Heather Warlick Published: March 5, 2012
/articleid/3654910/1/pictures/1653437">Photo - Before the silk was woven together for the bodice of this gown, Stella Thomas measured thousands of pieces of it to make the fringed skirt. Photo by James Edward. <strong></strong>
Before the silk was woven together for the bodice of this gown, Stella Thomas measured thousands of pieces of it to make the fringed skirt. Photo by James Edward.

“By the end of it, I was getting really busy,” she recalls. “Then my husband tells me that we're moving to Bangkok.”

Thomas readied herself for an adventure in Bangkok. Once she had her family settled in, Thomas began volunteering with a women's charity. Soon, fashion found her.

In Bangkok, Thomas' fashion design sensibilities were turned upside down by a love affair with Thai silk — an affection she shared with Sirikit Kitiyakara, the queen of Thailand, whose foundation supports the producers of Thai silk.

With the local weavers, Thomas helped reinvent Thai silk from its traditional drab shades to new, vibrant hues of shocking red, turquoise and other unexpected colors.

Always interested in philanthropic contributions, Thomas designed 300 hand-painted silk scarves for a breast cancer awareness project sponsored by Thailand's queen. She coordinated fashion shows featuring the beautiful silks, for which she became well-known.

This notoriety would open other royal doors to Thomas. While in Bangkok, Thomas became known for coordinating high-profile events such a party in 2006 for the 60th anniversary to the throne of Bhumibol Adulyadej, king of Thailand. Thomas said Adulyadej invited every king and queen in the world to the celebration.

Settled in Stillwater

In 2009, Thomas' husband's career presented the couple with a new adventure — life in Stillwater. And in 2010, Thomas was already busy boosting her fashion notoriety by winning the Dallas Designers Display Competition.

For the future, Thomas said she plans to continue her fashion career, designing commissioned gowns and jewelry and teaching others the fine art of fashion design.

“My mom always said you should think about others and what you have that you can give them,” Thomas said.

She hopes that through her philanthropic work with groups such as the American Association of University Women in Stillwater, she can inspire others to learn the art of fashion design.

“As Mother Teresa says, charity begins at home. It doesn't matter where you are. Start small, do a good show, eventually people know what you do and that's how word-of-mouth makes you who you are.”

by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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