Project Runway Designer to Attend Ava Gardner Festival Oct. 4

(Smithfield, NC) – This year’s Ava Gardner Festival will showcase new exhibits on the legacy of Ava Gardner's fashion style with the opening of the "Ava's Closet" exhibit with music, films, fashion, food and local designer and contestant on Season 12 of Project Runway, Justin LeBlanc. He will be at the festival Saturday, October 4, from 9am-11am to talk about his signature 3D printing process for fabrics and to discuss his fashion line with visitors to the museum.

"We are thrilled to have Justin LeBlanc visit this year's festival, we are big fans of his work," said Deanna Brandenberger, Museum Director, “Ava's popularity and influence on today's designers like Justin remains strong and we wanted to contrast modern design with the Golden Age of Hollywood's designs worn by Ava. It was clear he was well-liked as a contestant on Project Runway, and we feel visitors will enjoy meeting him."

LeBlanc will be bringing with him a piece from his 2014 Spring/Summer collection shown in New York. The collection, entitled "Sound Waves," reflected his journey from deafness to his ultimate reconciliation with sound, dramatically depicted by a gown made from Pipette tips that sounded like rain as the model walked. Visitors will have a chance to see this gown and learn more about the process of constructing this one-of-a-kind design.

At the Fashion Fling on Friday, October 3, guests will enjoy a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra by the Carolina Crooner and the museum will unveil its newest exhibit, Ava's Closet, which will run through the end of May 2015. Tickets to the Fling are $25 per person and all-day admission to the museum on Saturday-Sunday, October 4-5 is $8.00 for all ages.

On Saturday, October 4, heritage tours will be scheduled throughout the day. Visitors will be shown points of interest in Ava's hometown, including Ava's birthplace, the Teacherage where she grew up, the Howell Theater where Ava first went to the movies, and will end with a visit to her gravesite at Sunset Memorial Park. Heritage tour passes are $15 per person.

During the festival, the classic Ava Gardner films will showcase the great director and Ava's dear friend, John Huston including The Killers, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and on Sunday the award winning, The African Queen. That evening at 7pm, the museum has partnered with the Clayton Piano Festival to showcase movie tunes and a tribute to the musical Show Boat to be held at The Clayton Center. Tickets for the Clayton Piano Festival are $20.00 each.

To make the weekend's event a complete package individuals may purchase the "Ava's Closet" Festival Package for $75.00. This includes a pass to Friday night's "Fashion Fling" reception, admission to the museum Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a ticket to Saturday night's Clayton Piano Festival and one heritage tour on Saturday. Advanced reservations required by September 26 to schedule the package.

For more information about the festival and to purchase the "Ava's Closet" Festival Package, please call the museum at 919-934-5830. The Ava Gardner Museum is located in Downtown Smithfield, at 325 E. Market Street and more information may be found on the museum website, The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm with admission of $8.00 adults, $7.00 seniors and groups and $6.00 children.