Claire Thompson knows visionary romance, so much so that her wedding dress design landed her among the finalists in Brides magazine’s Operation Dream Dress competition.

Thompson, a 21-year-old University of Cincinnati student from Blue Ash, was in Annecy, France, on a graphic design co-op when she learned of the competition, for which “established fashionistas and newbie designers alike” were invited to create “a dress that embodied the theme of visionary romance.”

“I think it’s important for people to see the bride before they see the dress,” Thompson says. “The dress should enhance the bride rather than overpower her.” For her, visionary romance means simplicity, but with plenty of small, feminine details.

Rachel Leonard, Brides fashion director, says Thompson hit that mark. “We absolutely loved the sketch and the elements of her design,” she says. “The vintage feel of Claire’s design appealed to our readers. The mix of fabrics — soft grey chiffon and taffeta — side draping, pretty neckline, sleeve detail and delicate beading was a fresh take.”

Thompson’s mentor, adjunct instructor Sarita Naegel, concurs, noting that the dress is feminine, “but not in a frou-frouy way. It’s sweet in an updated way.”

Thompson didn’t win the overall competition, but did appear on Good Morning America to show off her creation, and offers and opportunities are pouring in.