Designer gives dress to struggling beauty queen

March 29, 2011 12:18:32 PM PDT
A Burr Ridge fashion designer met with a Miss USA pageant contestant Tuesday to help her select an evening gown. What makes the story unique is that the contestant -- Miss Colorado -- has fallen on hard times and the designer is making the gown for free.

Blair Griffith's, 23, heartache was turning into joy that could be seen in her face and in the way she walked Tuesday.

The hazel-eyed Miss Colorado USA lost her home and her job, but her dreams are coming true. Chicago-area fashion designer Mac Duggal was moved by her story after he met her in January. So, he paid for Blair and her mother, Bonita, to travel to his design shop in Burr Ridge where she could pick out a dress she wouldn't ever have been able to afford.

"It's unbelievable. I really can't explain this. A few months ago, I was not sure I would have this moment where I would find the dress that I would fall in love with," Griffith said.

"I felt like this is a smart girl. I've met her before. She's a brilliant girl. She's got style and charisma and composure. She must follow her dream. We just chose to just give her the gown," said Duggal.

Blair competed four times for the Miss Colorado USA contest and finally won. Three months later, however, she and her mother, Bonita, lost their home.

The family's financial problems began when Blair's father passed away from prostate cancer. Then, a mountain of medical bills followed. The bills grew more when Bonita suffered a heart attack, and her insurance company dropped her. Add Blair's students loans, and then, last year, Blair lost her job.

"To me, I just see them as things that make me a stronger person.They're obstacles that I have to get over, and I have to focus on accomplishing my goals and my dreams and not focus on these negative things that can happen.," the Miss USA contestant said.

Blair and her mother have been staying with friends since they lost their home in the fall, and somehow, they have managed to keep smiling. Now, help is coming from a stranger designing for a muse he just met.

"That is amazing that somebody could be so generous with their time and their talent and share that with my daughter. Words can't say how grateful I am to him for this opportunity for her," mother Bonita Griffith said.

"Feels great. All I know is the fashion industry; that is what we do. We dress stars. We dress winners, and this is the least we could do to give back," Duggal said.

Duggal designed 25 dresses with Griffith in mind. But the public has to wait until she competes in the Miss USA pageant in June to find out which dress Griffith chose.

The Griffiths head back to Colorado Wednesday.