Mar 6, 2014
10:35 AM
Style & Design

ESPN's Sage Steele Wears Connecticut Designer's Dress on 'NBA Countdown'

ESPN's Sage Steele Wears Connecticut Designer's Dress on 'NBA Countdown'

Jean Anne Boccaccio, right, with "Project Runway All Stars" winner Mondo Guerra, center, and Maryanne McLafferty (her model/sister.)

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West Hartford fashion designer Jeanne Anne Boccaccio got in touch with Connecticut Magazine last Friday to report some progress since we wrote about her last September: ESPN's Sage Steele "will be wearing my design on national television this weekend on ABC’s NBA Countdown (Sunday)!," she wrote. "I am designing a few additional pieces for her as well, and feel so honored and grateful that she will be wearing one on TV!"
The "NBA Countdown" show on which Steele wore a dress by Boccaccio aired at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, before the NBA doubleheader that started with NBA Champion Miami Heat and LeBron James visiting the Chicago Bulls. Steele teamed with Doug Collins, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons on "NBA Countdown."
Boccaccio tweeted a shot of Steele wearing her dress:
And Steele tweeted a thanks to the designer:
Meanwhile, here's our story on Boccaccio from September:

ESPN’s Sage Steele got a major boost this fall when the juggernaut sports network announced she was joining the “NBA Countdown” shows on Fridays and Sundays, starting Nov. 1, to team with Jalen Rose, Doug Collines and Bill Simmons, and that, as part of a multiyear contract extension, she will also continue to be a “SportsCenter” host and play a role in on-site coverage at the NBA Finals.

That’s like the equivalent of a basketball triple-double (double-digits in points, assists and rebounds in a single game).

The fashion triple-double this season is claimed by Jean Anne Boccaccio of West Hartford—she’s parlaying an early career in law, followed by a stay-at-home-mom role, into a new narrative as a fashion designer, she just won a Connecticut “Project Runway”-style event, and that exposure has her in the process of creating a look Steele will wear for all the world to see during an ESPN on-air appearance. (Below, Sage Steele, left, with Jean Anne Boccaccio.)

Steele was one of the judges for the Oct. 19 “We Can” fashion show competition and fundraiser for AIDS Connecticut. She was joined by Connecticut style guru Debbie Wright, MaryEllen Fillo of The Hartford Courant, WNPR talk show host Colin McEnroe and Mondo Guerra, a “Project Runway All Stars” winner.

Boccaccio impressed the judges with a classic dress emboldened by fluid symmetrical lines, creating an overall effect as sleek and luxurious as a high-performance sports car, and as eager to embrace and flatter curves.

“One of the really great things, in addition to meeting Mondo … was I was able to meet Sage Steele,” Boccaccio said. “Right after the show, she came over to me and said she would definitely like to wear my designs on the air. That really thrilled me; she really epitomizes my ideal customer.”

The connection came in part through celebrity make-up artist Tiffany Hall-Scarmana, who worked her magic at the competition, has worked on “Project Runway” and does makeup for ESPN. “She does Sage’s makeup every day,” Bocaccio said.

The We Can (Women End the Course of AIDS Now) event featured 22 talented designers vying for the title won by Boccaccio, and the victory included a special Project Runway edition sewing machine signed by Mondo, other prizes and use of a Mercedes-Benz donated by New Country Mercedes.  

The design competition was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and held at New Country Motor Cars in Hartford. The stage was set a few months earlier, when the designers competing were asked in a July meeting “to create a design based on the Mercedes AMG high performance car,” Boccaccio recalled.

She called the challenge “a perfect match,” saying, “My garments lend themselves well to the Mercedes look,” with quality and luxury being hallmarks.

The 22 designers in the Connecticut competition were narrowed to 10 after the models showed off the designs for the judges. And then, in true “Project Runway” fashion, the 10 finalists were sent back to the workroom to come up with some type of complementary piece for their look in 20 minutes—using masking tape.

“They had colors and prints, and golds and silvers. It was sort of fun. We were all scrambling,” said Boccaccio, who made a big, bold cuff bracelet covered in gold masking tape, and a necklace as well.

The lift from the competition win has Boccaccio getting new pieces together for Steele, and working on a collection to offer to interested clients and higher-end boutiques—which is exactly where she aspired to be at this point after her “kind of a crazy, convoluted background.” (Above, Maryanne McLafferty wearing the winning design. Photo by Jay Sottolano;

ESPN's Sage Steele Wears Connecticut Designer's Dress on 'NBA Countdown'

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