Fashion Houston Begins with Theatrics, LBDs, Flair and Grungy Gentlemen

2014 marked five years for Fashion Houston– the city’s most anticipated event, which is held at the Wortham Center in Downtown. The four night event drew hundreds of eager folks who were excited to see the latest collections from the area’s more well-known designers, plus designers from around the country. The event is spearheaded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Jared Lang, who just recently announced his new partnership with Vivian Wise of Velvet Slipper Divine.

The opening night of FH5 started out with a bang as we were treated to theatrics during the Alexis Monsanto show, followed by the Little Black Dress designers and their muses, Jonathan Blake, Tibi, the exotic designs of Sameera Faridi and the preppy grunge in Grungy Gentleman.

The night began with inspirational hip-hop artist- Rocko Stedy Narvios, performing the FH5 theme song “Lights, Camera, Action.” Rocko combines his passion for hip-hop with his ‘Pride of Place’ concept (accepting your past, appreciating your present and welcoming your future) and in collaboration with his “Do Better City” movement. He was commissioned by Mayor Annise Parker to create the city’s and FH5’s theme song. He rocked out the runway as models Thaddeus Laday and Jamie Huger modeled garments styled by Thaddeus himself. Thaddeus also styled Rocko in a suit constructed of Italian silks that represented his love for “going with flow” (ocean waves) and tropical island lifestyles.

*Video used with permission from Rocko*

After the performance were opening remarks from Jared, Vivian and the night’s emcee- Lily Jang. Then we watched the Mayor make her ‘cameo’ via video, counting down the official start in 5…4…3…2…1…

Los Angeles based designer Alexis Monsanto presented his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, inspired by the Byzantine Era and in conjunction with Roman gods and warrior princesses. The collection started off relatively normal, with wearable separates that were jazzed up according to Monsanto’s eclectic taste. We saw his debut of his exclusive Monsanto Print: featuring scrolls, medallions, chains and leopard prints. Also relevant to the collection was his unique honeycombed pleating that was meant to resemble scales and armor. He also never made a man wearing a suit and shirt whose collared sash tied in a bow look so good. It then transitioned into the theatrical portion, with over-the-top headwear (the butterfly one was so fantastic), and a Roman gods and warrior princess ceremony. The ‘Roman King,’ wearing a chainmaille-esque suit of armor, complete with crown and cape, wowed the crowd. The collection was definitely a crowd-pleaser of the evening.

After a brief intermission and performance by grammy-nominated singer and actress- Tamar Davis, New York based Tibi was up next, proving that the night was still going strong. Tibi was founded in 1997 by Amy Smilovic, who wanted it to be a well-priced luxury line for women who want to feel relaxed and feminine. The Spring 2015 collection was a take on ‘Japan Meets Peru.’ Smilovic combined the minimalism of Japan (such as obi ties) with the crafty work of the Peruvian culture. Boxy crop tops, darling skirts, minimal blousy linen-esque tops and culottes ruled the Tibi runway.

I’ve heard so much about Houston-based designer Jonathan Blake throughout this last year that I was excited to finally actually be able to see his collection in person. Jonathan is known to take something that’s sophisticated yet edgy and then puts emphasis on luxurious materials such as animal skins, silks and cashmere. His clothing is manufactured in Houston, while the handbags are manufactured in California. His Spring/Summer 2015 collection was inspired by the surrealism and whimsy of Alice and Wonderland. There were two prints that were the talk of the collection- the ‘butterfly’ and ‘stingray’ prints, both of which were designed by Jonathan. The ‘stingray’ print was actually a photo of a stingray that was blown up several times. It looked pretty incredible on a maxi skirt and dresses. Jonathan Blake’s collections are available in a range of sizes, from 0 to 22.

The Little Black Dress Designer is a statewide designer competition platform that encourages fashion students and emerging designers to compete for a chance to gain not only recognition in the industry and community, but receive financial monies to the school of their choosing. It was founded in 2008 by Neal Hamil Modeling Agency director- Jeff Shell. The finale of the 6th annual LBDD competition took place during FH5, where the ten finalists had their original dresses go down the runway on a professional model and then had their assigned muse- one of Houston’s influential female tastemakers- wearing a modified version of the dress to suit her taste. The ten finalists were: Gabby Ong, Phuong Le, Jeanne Ly, Daniel Amaya, Joubaier Joubert, Natthakan Chompuwiset, Claire Ferran, Judi Hallenbeck and Andrea Giralt-Brun. The muses were: Yasmine Haddad, Ursaline Hamilton, Lucinda Loya, Beth Muecke, Judy Nyquist, Theresa Roemer, Roseann Rogers, Jessica Rossman, Holly Waltrip and Donae Chramosta.

Houston area designer and owner of Poshak Fashion and Style boutique- Sameera Faridi brought exquisite and exotic South Asian flair into her evening and bridal wear collection she displayed during the first night of FH5. Faridi stuck with her South Asian roots, showing us a diverse collection of traditional and non-traditional saris for the women and kurtas with choridars for men. Each garment is hand embroidered and beaded, showing that no attention to detail has been left out. The rich colors and vibrant trims danced in the spotlights and as the models sashayed down the runway. Sameera’s designs are an example of a creative twist in terms of attiring yourself for your wedding or gala.

The finale of night one went to the multimedia brand- Grungy Gentleman, headed by Jace Lipstein. After numerous collaborations, they recently launched their own apparel line during New York Fashion Week in September and takes on an athletic approach to tailoring. Gentlemanly models strolled down the runway as hip-hop legends: Jadakiss and Styles P of The LOX jammed around them. The females in the audience raved as Don Benjamin and Will Jardell from America’s Next Top Model, soccer stars Mike Chabala and Euan Holden and Kalan Laws broke out onto the runway in somewhat preppy-meets-athletic layered looks. “The crossover between fashion and music are apparent through culture, lyrics and its affect on society. Live performances on the runway are the next logical progression between the two industries. Who better to launch this innovative platform with than two hip hop legends, Jadakiss and Styles P of The LOX? It was a perfect match and the fellas looked super fresh in our Mitchell & Ness collaboration on the catwalk. They made us very proud,” Jace Lipstein stated.

All in all, Fashion Houston Five started out with quite a line-up. The next few nights are sure to follow suit.

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