Author - Heather

It’s a Kimono Kind of Day….
5th Annual Women’s Home reNew and reDux Fashion Show 2014
A Chat with NYC Paper Towel Milliner- Debra Rapoport
Mini Pops Presented by Pop Shop Houston
Melrose Trading Post – Los Angeles
Stylist Ashley Dunn Launches Namesake Collection
E! “Fashion Police” Star George Kotsiopoulos X “Exclusively Styled” Event

It’s a Kimono Kind of Day….

Los Angeles based designer Melissa Velia once again proves that there are many ways to reinvent the kimono. Her version includes wispy florals with bouncy pom-pom trim. The day I wore it was perfect, as the weather was rather bland. I decided to take advantage of the warm colors to sort of brighten up my outfit for an event I was attending. I paired it with my flared jeans and belted it at the waist for added color and a more refined silhouette.

(Floral Kimono with Pom-Pom Trim c/o Melissa Velia, Vintage Belt- thrifted, Vintage Turban- thrifted, Vintage Necklace- thrifted, Denim c/o Doctrine Jeans, Vintage RODO handbag- thrifted, Brown Heels c/o Sole Society.)

** Photos by Nicole Kestenbaum Photography **

5th Annual Women’s Home reNew and reDux Fashion Show 2014

I really love the idea of seeing local thrift shops host a fashion show, especially one as high caliber as the one The Women’s Home at The Cottage Shop put on recently. It was their fifth annual show and held in the Grand Foyer of the Wortham Center in downtown Houston. The event featured vendors, silent auction, light bites, the ever-popular Cottage Shop pop-up boutique and the fashion presentation.

Before the show, I checked out the pop-up boutique. It was filled with designer and vintage clothing and accessories. I also browsed the outfits that were on display (and available for purchase) from the closets of some of Houston’s notable style icons: Mandy Kao, Yasmine Haddad, Joanne King Herring, Phyllis Williams and Duyen Huynh. Seasons 52 Fresh Grill had a delectable sampling of treats and light appetizers that could satisfy any discerning palate. The folks at Kendra Scott were on hand, having a jewelry pull for guests. For $100, guests could pick a box, where inside the box was a piece of jewelry valued at $100-300. But the catch was that they couldn’t peek. Needless to say, I’m sure they weren’t disappointed, as the Kendra Scott brand is very popular. There was a section of vendors that showcased their services that evening, which were SoK Salon on Kirby, W by Worth and Q the Salon.

The fashion show was emceed by Fox26 news anchor- Rita Garcia and was distributed into eight ‘scenes.’

Scene One was “Berry Nice,” where they featured all black clothing, but with pops of orchid, fuchsia, berry and rouge. Designer labels included: Christian Dior, Valentino, Tory Burch and Kay Unger.

Scene Two was “Autumn Sonata” and highlighted Fall-like colors, textures and layering. Coats (both newer and vintage), tights and color/print mixing were key trends for this scene. I loved how knits and woolens were paired together to create a cozy yet chic outfit. Designer labels included: Peck & Peck, Clements Ribeiro, Jason Wu, Etro, Burberry and Marc Jacobs.

Scene Three was “Haute Stuff” and displayed show-stopping cocktail dresses paired with a swanky leather jacket or a statement accessory. Designer labels included: Roberto Cavalli, Donna Karan, Gucci, Missoni and Halston.

Scene Four was “Gray Expectations” and spotlighted neutrals such as black and gray, which were anything but “gray.” Solids mixed with metallics or sequins to create looks that were office friendly yet could take the wearer straight to happy hour. Designer labels included: Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Chaiken and Piazza Sempione.

Scene Five was “The Art of the Dress” and brought attention to dresses that were simple, yet had a small detail that just “made” the dress; such as the trim, a fabric manipulation or print. Designer labels included: Lela Rose, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Marchesa.

Scene Six was “Call of the Wild” and stressed looks that involved animal print. Leopard print took center stage as either the main garment or accessory. As not to be overdone, the looks were completed with a solid neutral print or color. This was also a good time for vintage furs to finally get noticed. Designer labels included: Fendi, Chloe, Valentino, Michael Kors, Sue Wong, BCBG and Versace.

Scene Seven was “Color of the Night” and emphasized formal statement-worthy gowns that were ready for the dance floor. Designer labels included: Chanel, See by Chloe, Nicole Miller, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta and Monique Lhuillier.

Scene Eight was “Fade to Black” and underlined lovely black cocktail and evening wear. Most of these looks were paired with stunning feather pieces and pearls. Designer labels included: Jenny Han, Tocca, Sonia Rykiel, Valentino, Monique Lhuillier, Armani, Vera Wang and Tadashi.

After the show, guests waiting anxiously for the runway looks to become available at the pop-up boutique. During that time, it was literally a feeding frenzy as people grabbed the coveted items from the racks. I ended up scoring the Oscar de la Renta scarlet silk and sculptured dress, which I’m just itching to wear to the appropriate event. All proceeds from the event went to help The Women’s Home.

A Chat with NYC Paper Towel Milliner- Debra Rapoport

It wasn’t long ago when I first read about Debra Rapoport- a milliner who’s design esthetic isn’t what you would call “average.” She was [and still is being] featured on Advanced Style for her incredibly unique style in her advanced age. She also designs her own hats and accessories out of recycled items such as toilet paper rolls, stainless steel scouring pads and most importantly- paper towels. It was such a humbling experience to sit down with her over tea as she discussed growing up in a creative family, how she got into Advanced Style and life in general. But did I mention THOSE AMAZING HATS !?!?!

Ever since she was three, Debra has always dressed up. She recalls her sister and her never owning dolls, but instead turning to playing dress-up. You see, being creative was always encouraged in her family (especially by her Mother and Grandmother). When she was staying at her Grandparents one time, the siblings took the button drawer out of the sewing machine, dumped it on living room floor and started playing around with them. She remembered her Grandpa saying, “Oh my God, they are making a mess!” Her Grandma then replied, “Be quiet, they are being creative.” Debra has always grown being allowed to wear whatever she wanted and with an attitude that “There’s no such thing as making a mess, it’s all about creativity. Where there’s creativity, there are no rules. Where there are no rules, there is no fear.”

She went on to major in textile design at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. She then went on to graduate school at UC Berkley, where her graduate work pertained to textiles relating to the body. She was doing mostly weaving and constructions off the loom. Every time she finished something, she would want to change it to work for the body, because a flat rectangle didn’t work. She created a few elaborate knitted wearable pieces for her graduate dissertation. This was also when the term ‘wearable art’ didn’t exist yet (late 60s). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts currently own some of her work.

It was a little over five years ago when she was featured on Advanced Style. She recollected that it was 2009 and Ari Seth Cohen was managing the bookstore at the New Museum. She came in on a rainy day and checked her raincoat. She had pink hair then. He ran up to her and asked, ‘I have a blog of women over 60, can I take your photograph?’ He had forgotten his camera, but borrowed a friend’s iPhone. She gave him her card and invited him over.”I’ll dress up, I’ll undress and I’ll even make ya lunch.” Which seemed to frighten him somewhat. Five days later, she called him and invited him over for lunch. He photographed everything in her apt, from the artwork to her cooking. She also changed outfits a few times. They became fast friends and she coined him as her ‘adopted son.’ A few weeks later, he met Lina Plioplyte, who is a film director. Lina wanted to come on board and do the Advanced Style film. Over the years, Ari and the women whom he has photographed are like a large family. Debra has met quite a few young artistic people and friends of Ari’s. She is known for “collecting young people.” “I think it’s important to mix the ages. The young people I have met are not ageist… They aren’t put off by someone who is 70, 80 or 90. They are enamored and they know there is something they can learn from us and our vitality. It’s been an extraordinary experience, especially with the movie out. Ari has given us a new life.”

Nowadays, she mostly thrifts and alters her clothing. Her friends often refer to her as “gifted and thrifted,” as folks would also gift her clothing they no longer wear and she’ll either wear or alter it to her liking. As far as headwear is concerned, she’s always made headwear; whether it be a paper bag, handbag or a lampshade. In the early 90s, she made lampshades for a company out of banana fiber that she imported from Costa Rica. “To me, a lampshade is a hat, a hat a lampshade..” She was also in the flower business for sixteen years, so she collected vases as well. “A vase is a lampshade…They are all vessels..”

When designing a hat, she starts by working directly on her head. She doesn’t do drawings or work from another form. She started making hats from the banana fiber and then from industrial felt. “I love wearing hats and playing with hair. Because hair is like a sculpture. You can cut it. You can let it grow. I used to have it pink (and other colors). I like to have it pulled out of a hat (as many of my hats have open tops) so it becomes an additional embellishment and texture. Life is about texture. I cook and I eat by texture and color. I dress by color and texture and layering…”

She goes on to show me some of the cuffs and bracelets she’s crafted. She’s been recycling since the 60s and always loved large bracelets. She would see toilet tissue rolls in the trash. “They are such a valuable piece of cardboard and the shape is fabulous. I slit it up the middle and it makes a beautiful large cuff. I get so many beautiful pieces of graphics in the mail (like a postcard or catalogs from art galleries). I use them to upholster the cardboard cuff and turn it into a bracelet. I add other bits of fabric or ribbon and then I cover them in mesh that I get from sweet potato or lemon bags (or other produce bags). I would also often embellish them with what I call my ‘gems’…shredded paper that I’ve bound and wrapped in thread; creating a large, 3-dimensional gem on top of it. People stop me on the street as they think it’s from another ethnic culture. Because they take on a whole other life. I think that’s what happens when you combine a lot of materials and layer stuff. You don’t read one particular thing, it just becomes a melting of the textures, materials and colors.” She also makes bracelets from paper towels. She’ll either make them into elements and then braid or weave them [similar to the hats]. Or she’ll twist or coil them into a bangle and then paint them. Sometimes she would add elements on the surface. “Everything speaks to me, I don’t try to force it into a form. I saw the paper towels one day. It just said ‘cloth’ and ‘do me.’ I just started manipulating. Coming from a textile background, I’m used to manipulating materials, transforming, making elements and then turning it into something; whether it be a basket or garment… So that’s been my whole life and I just keep following what my inner instinct tells me. I think as we grow older we have to do that in whatever form it is, because that’s what’s going to keep us vital.”

I would like to leave you with Debra’s thoughts on personal style, “Personal style is very healing because creativity comes from within. I love to teach young people that it’s not about what they buy at major stores, but how they put it together as their own personal thing. The things they make. How they embellish themselves and how they can recycle and thrift. And how important that is for the environment and creativity.”

Her hats are currently being made from Viva Paper Towels and come in a large variety of unique style. She also does custom pieces upon request. Her wearable art retails from $150- 185. You can contact her through her website: On why her website is named that, “I’m also encouraging hats to come back and come alive.” VIVA LE HAT!!

Mini Pops Presented by Pop Shop Houston

Houston has this amazing network of local indie markets that take place intermittently throughout the city. Mini Pops is one of them, a monthly European style market that is in conjunction with twice-yearly Pop Shop Houston- the city’s premier craft, indie, art and music festival. I checked out the one last month, where it was held in a small parking lot in the hip Montrose/Westheimer district. Two boutiques- Pavement Clothing and Leopard Lounge Vintage host the market every SECOND Sunday of each month. Some local vendors that were there include: Vida Antigua, Milk & Honey Vintage, Zayver Jewels, Traci Lavois (she writes poems for you on the spot for sale, barter or trade), The Barking Bunny, Guerra Girl, CultGrrrl Creations, Sam Wish, Laundry Line, The Boy and Her and others. Of course, no outdoorsy hipster market cannot be without the food trucks, which included: The Golden Grill and Juice Girl. There were also DJs and local bands playing throughout the day. As an added bonus, a DIY station was set up (each month the activities change) to do DIY Valentine’s Day cards and make your own terrariums (which I did and LOVE my little low maintenance “garden”). The market is a great place to hang with friends and enjoy your “Sunday Funday.” It also pays to shop the amazing local brands and artists. For more information, check out

Melrose Trading Post – Los Angeles

Held EVERY Sunday from 9-5!
Rain or Shine!
$2 Admission!

Located in the parking lot of Fairfax High School (corner of Fairfax and Melrose).

If you are in the LA area and have not been to the Melrose Trading Post yet…I HIGHLY recommend you go. Granted, the traffic on Fairfax is somewhat of a nightmare, but once you turn into the entrance to the flea market, you are greeted by a friendly volunteer who directs you to the free parking (yes, I said FREE) on the soccer field. Once you walk back to the market, you’ll pay your $2 admission, which goes directly to support programs at the high school. Voila! Now that you’re in, you’ll be immersed in the world of vintage, repurposed furniture, clothing, accessories and various random knick-knacks. As a MTP virgin and avid vintage junkie- I wished that I had brought a wad of cash with me, as I saw so much and my budget was so small…this time… Luckily, there is an ATM available, but beware of the $3 fee.

Aside from all the vintage goodness, I spotted one vendor- Industrial Vintage, with a fascinating recycled jewelry collection. The owner- Beth Gellar, takes old bus tags, key tags (from old hotel rooms) and random old key chains and charms and turns them into fab bohemian-style necklaces, etc. for her line, “Personal Numerology.” One style of key tags in particular comes from a beach resort in New Jersey and are naturally patinaed by the ocean. The bus tags come from a school bus company in Wisconsin. Prices for the collection range from $20-45. Beth does not have an online shop at the moment, but next time you’re at the Trading Post, check out her both. If you need a necklace sooner or whatnot, feel free to contact her at:

The Melrose Trading Post can easily be an all-day affair, so bring comfy shoes, sunscreen, cash and your friends. I would suggest being creative in your wardrobe as well, as I spotted a lot of innovative outfits and street style photographers and bloggers. Bring your appetite as well, for the MTG offers a small food court. The best place to get some yummy grub would have to be the GC Crepes. They are also known for their fresh-squeezed orange juice (which is quite good). So, with all this being said, are you excited to check this place out!? The prices are great! I bought a pair of vintage sheer, pleated palazzo pants for FIVE BUCKS!!! I saw vintage sequin tops for $10! Vintage Dooney & Bourke purses for $15?! SOLD! How amazing is that!? From my observation of the vendors I shopped at, people were super friendly and helpful (and willing to bargain).

I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience at Melrose Trading Post. Definitely go check it out and let me know what you think!

Stylist Ashley Dunn Launches Namesake Collection

A short time ago, Houston stylist Ashley Dunn launched her namesake ready-to-wear collection at Archway Gallery to an intimate crowd of influencers, friends and family. Local KHOU 11 personality- Courtney Perna was on hand to host the event. Ashley showcased fourteen looks, which she said were inspired by street style, simplicity and bold bright colors. “I was really inspired by women on the go; women that wear many hats but look chic and effortless while doing it.”

Proceeds from the show went to benefit NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) in hopes of raising awareness on the issue, which affects millions (including Ashley). “I was always a curvy girl. Even when I was younger. Which is when the body image issues began. I felt early on that I was different from my peers because of I was curvier & short & they were naturally thin, so in my mind to help me to look like my peers I began throwing up my food, this started in first grade and I didn’t stop until my early twenties after college. My weight was always something I struggled with and I thought that somehow throwing up or getting rid of my food was the answer. My faith played a key role in my journey to becoming a better woman in which helped me to fight my eating disorder of bulimia. I feel it is my duty to share my story in hopes of helping someone struggling like I did.”

The designs and silhouettes were simple and clean, yet chic and versatile. You can mix n’ match pieces and probably could style a week’s worth (if not more) of outfits out of the entire collection. Being a gal who enjoys wearing color, this collection was a breath of fresh air. I especially loved the mid-length flounce skirts, the strapless jumpsuit with semi-skirt, 3/4 sleeve sleek red jumpsuit and crop tops. Another great thing about the brand is that it is manufactured locally in Houston. The price points for looking and feeling great won’t break the bank either, ranging from $29.99- 129.99.

“I try to promote positivity through fashion, empowerment & confidence. So my brand says just that, when a woman wears an Ashley Dunn Piece, that’s how they should feel. Ready to take on the world. I kept my pieces simple yet bold; so that the piece isn’t overshadowing the person but adding to.”

At press time, you can shop the line by emailing the product name and size to After the invoice is sent, expect 2-3 weeks to receive the order. Soon, you will be able to shop the line via her site-

E! “Fashion Police” Star George Kotsiopoulos X “Exclusively Styled” Event

E! Fashion Police star and celebrity stylist George Kotsiopoulos paid a visit to the Houston Premium Outlets recently, as the celebrity emcee for an “Exclusively Styled” fashion event hosted by Gap Factory Store. Back in March, he was chosen as the brand’s Style Editor for Gap Factory Store’s Spring 2014 collection. The campaign is expected to cover over four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. During that span of time, he will share product picks, expert tips and styling insight via social media.

The event, held under a large white tent and complete with models on stilts; started out with an intimate Q and A session with George and a select group of Houston’s top influencers. George was dressed in head-to-toe Gap Factory, straying away from his usual focus on preppy all-over prints that he usually wears on Fashion Police. He spoke about his ‘must-have pieces’ for Fall, like shearling (real and faux) and bright colors. He also spoke about his top picks for Gap: jeans, denim motorcycle jacket, boucle “Chanel-esque” jacket, white distressed denim, embellished sweater and black jumpsuit. When asked about which celebrity he would like to dress, he mentioned the classics- Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and then the moderns- Rhianna and Emma Stone. “They love clothes and fashion…they ‘are into it and get it.’ When asked about his picks of ‘worst-dressed,’ he mentioned that he doesn’t focus on that. He’s not waiting for someone to look bad. He also provided tips on styling yourself if you are an educator, as well as over 30. After the interview, we were able to get photos with him and mingled, while waiting for the show to begin.

Houston stylist Ashley Dunn co-hosted the fashion show. The first group of looks featured denim heavy and sporty separates with an uptown edge. I loved the ‘Canadian Tuxedo’ paired with a white jacket and silver oxfords. Another look that caught my eye was a look that consisted of striped track pants, a striped top and denim motorcycle jacket. The show then transitioned over to a semi-military grouping, with camo print and a variety of browns and neutrals. The last grouping was more for a night on the town or even office-appropriate. Black denim, embroidered skirts, embellished sweaters and a show-stopping black jumpsuit, paired with a thin belt from the boys department (hey it works), with multiple necklaces for a layered look; were the name of the game.

The event concluded with some giveaways and an invitation to shop the runway at the factory store (it was tax-free weekend after all).

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