Montco designer reflects on role in Nancy Reagan's 'Just Say No' campaign

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Emil DeJohn was one of 17 designers who sent sketches for the "Just Say No" anti-drug clothing competition. (WPVI)

His clothes have been featured on the covers of "Vogue" and "Harper's Bazaar." Singer Barbara Streisand and many actresses wore them. But it was first lady and fashionista Nancy Reagan that Emil DeJohn wanted to impress.

DeJohn of Montgomery County was one of 17 designers who sent sketches for the "Just Say No" anti-drug clothing competition.

"Present a board of sketches to Nancy and her committee. While in Paris I get a phone call that Mrs. Reagan had selected me," said DeJohn.

DeJohn had just three months to design sweatshirts, shirts, pants and more for children, ages 2 to teenager. But he immediately had a vision of what the collection should look like.

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"I saw the pictures of the flags from the six countries and I just saw, you know, how interesting it would be to have them write 'just say no' in whatever the language was," said DeJohn. "And it just went on and I knew kids liked bold colors."

DeJohn used English, Russian, Japanese and other languages and flags to show the scope of the problem.

Nancy Reagan gave out the clothes as she spread her message worldwide. DeJohn says he was just thrilled to be part of it.

"It was the president's wife and it was helping children and it just made me very happy," said DeJohn.
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