Category - People

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The ‘World’s Largest’ and Philanthropic Closet of Theresa Roemer
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"The Art of Dressing" Through Tziporah Salamon
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Rongrong Devoe – Fashion Illustrator

The ‘World’s Largest’ and Philanthropic Closet of Theresa Roemer

One of Houston’s most notable entrepreneurs- Theresa Roemer– opened the doors of her 3,000 square foot closet to me on a recent Saturday afternoon so I could get a glimpse of the ultimate ‘she cave.’

The thick glass doors opened and I was ushered in, all while being in total awe at the enormity of the famed closet. Crisp white and lighted shelving that spanned from floor to ceiling held a rainbow of Hermes Birkins, Dior, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel… a collection that has been amassed for over 30 years. “It’s not like I just went out last year and bought everything and stocked it. I have my very first Louis Vuitton purse that I was finally able to purchase when I was 19. I go on trips to Italy or Germany and I find cute little purses and things that are by well known designers in that country, but not necessarily in the United States. I fall in love with it and have to have it. So it becomes a part of my collection. It’s no different than a man who collects cars.”

We walk up the spiral staircase to the 2nd floor or “family room of the house.” Theresa points out her large shoe collection, many of which are Louboutins and have been signed by the designer (she mentions that the signed shoes do tend to generate more money after giving away to charity). She then pulls out a narrow drawer, where several scarves hang neatly. There is also a small champagne bar, where bottles of champagne are readily available for when her friends come over. The other side of the room boasted a personal make-up station, a mannequin where an Oscar de la Renta dress rests sweetly on it. A row of glass doors reveal her clothing, while shelves above display more handbags and Louis Vuitton luggage. A trip up another spiral staircase takes us to a small alcove, which houses her seasonal items, such as furs, hats and leathers.

We move over to the champagne bar, taking a seat at the cozy bar stools, and she continues her story on the dream closet.

Theresa’s concept of having a physically appealing closet started years ago. Every time she moved, her closet would get bigger and bigger. “It didn’t necessarily mean that I always had a big closet, it meant that what closet space I did have was beautiful. Every time I would have a function (whether it be a fundraiser or an event with people gathering), as soon as the girls would walk in the door (even with their husbands), the first thing the girls would say after we’d get a glass of champagne was ‘can we go see the closet?’ So we’d go off and go in the closet and we’d all just sit in there, giggle and admire all the pretty things.”

When the Roemers’ got ready to renovate their current home, a gorgeous home located in The Woodlands, she thought, “You know what, all you do is spend time in your closet. When it comes to events, all the girls want to do is hang out in the closet. I need to build a closet so big that I can hold the fundraisers and charity events actually IN the closet, because that’s where the girls want to be anyway.”

Once her closet was blogged via Neiman Marcus, news spread quickly throughout Houston and eventually all over the world. Almost 30% of her fan are from Germany, so in February, she will be going on a media tour throughout Germany.

When asked about the size of the closet… all 3,000 square feet in the three-story space… “I’ve got the space, I’ve got the height, why not go up with it? Wy not make it my dream closet? The closet that every girl dreams that she had. and make it so big and fun that events are held in the closet and girls can hang out in the closet. It’s the same as a man cave. It’s like a ‘she cave’. If men can have a place where they can play pool, drink beer and watch sports, why can’t a woman have her space where she collects her items ..why can’t girls sit in a ‘cave’ like that where they just enjoy girl things…and talk about girl things and drink their champagne…and have fun?”

The three story closet took about a year and a half to complete. Theresa has it strategically organized so that the 2nd floor is like the family room of a house, “It’s where everything happens. It’s where a lot of the entertaining happens, it’s where I can sit and get my hair and make-up done. We positioned the mirror perfectly where I can look in the mirror and see my clothes (while I’m sitting there getting my hair an make-up done). So a lot of times I’m looking in the mirror seeing the clothes and trying to visualize what I want and visually put an outfit together. By the time I get out of the chair, I know exactly what I want to wear. Then from there I walk over and pick out the right shoe to go with the outfit. If it’s winter time, I go up to the 3rd floor to get a fur or whatever. Then I finally walk downstairs and now it’s time to pick out the purse and jewelry. I take one last look in the mirror and then it’s time to go. It’s laid out so that it’s organized and I’m not wasting time,” she further explains.

On being judged for ‘being a show-off’…. “I get criticized for it all the time. People are always like ‘What’s she doing? Showing off all this.’ I’m no different than a man that shows off his man cave to his buddies. The thing that most people don’t know about me and this closet is that everything in the closet is mine (it is a working closet after all), but everything eventually gets rotated out to a charity. Recently, for The Women’s Home and their Renew and Redeux Fashion Show, I donated 40,000 worth of stuff. I gave them a 10,000 Oscar de la Renta gown, a couple Prada and Louis Vuitton purses, a Versace dress, some Michael Kors dresses … So what people don’t understand about it is that everything is mine now but eventually it gets rotated out and gets given to charity and it helps charity raise money. Then if I want to replace it I can. Most men, with their man caves, don’t give up their memorabilia. They hang onto their signed jersey by JJ Watt or whatnot because it becomes more valuable as time goes on. The same thing with purses, the longer you hang onto it, (especially a collector’s item) the more money it’s worth. But I don’t want to keep that money. What good’s it going to do me? Maybe when I die, they sell off my estate, well ok…but why not enjoy giving it away while I’m alive. So I don’t want to wait until I’m dead to have to see people enjoy the monies that my items raise. I hold charity events in the closet, because people want to come see it. People will pay good money to come see the closet…which goes directly to the foundations featured that night. We just got done with Fashion Woodlands and 200 people showed up that night from Houston and The Woodlands to partake in the event because it was a fundraising event that gave the monies to the Joe Niekro Foundation. Niekro used to be an Astro who died of a brain aneurysm. As well as Child Legacy International, where I sit on the board of Directors. CLI drills water wells and provides a sustainable life for people in Malawi, Africa. So, they paid a lot of money to come to the event. They were blown away by nine designers showcasing their lines, they got to see the closet, they had a fun time and once again, the monies go to the charities.”

The closet is also like her safe. The doors have thick glass and lock and alarms. When they were robbed last year, the house had been under re-construction for eighteen months. When it happened, the closet was in the middle of being painted. “You can’t put the alarms and glass up yet until the walls are painted. Plus, it’s my house and we live in a gated community, so why should I have to feel like I have to have the doors locked?” Essentially, the robbery has not deterred Theresa from going about her daily routine and hosting functions.

We walk downstairs and she takes out the Louis Vuitton handbag that she bought years ago. It looks like she had bought it this year, as the leather and hardware looked flawless. The power of a dust bag is quite something! She says she will never give up the bag, “To me it represents a little poor girl growing up on a ranch that always wore hand-me-downs. It also represents ‘Wow, I finally made enough money on my own that I can afford to buy what I want. When I was finally able to get a real job. (She had always worked on the ranch throughout her childhood.) I was bussing tables, I was waitressing and the money became bigger. Then I started lifeguarding in the summer and working at a department store. Now that’s when I start making some ‘money money.’ It’s a bag I don’t use. Though I’ve probably used it maybe five times since I was 19.”

Parting words and why I became motivated to re-organize my small closet… “A closet is also a representation of a woman. I don’t care if you’ve got a 4 ft by 6ft closet or a closet with bi-fold doors. The minute you open those bi-fold doors, you should just see pretty. It should just represent you. They say a car sometimes represent a man.. I kinda feel that way with closets. I think that regardless of what space you have it should just be pretty, organized and it should be a reflection of you.”

STAY TUNED! She’s got a new book coming out in January called “Naked in 30 Days.” It’s all about a woman being the best that she can be and reveal herself in 30 days naked. That can be naked in a physical sense (because she’s never felt good enough to finally present herself naked to her partner) or mentally and emotionally naked (she’s ready to reveal her deepest, darkest secrets).

"The Art of Dressing" Through Tziporah Salamon

Dressing creatively is one of life’s greatest pleasures – Tziporah Salamon

So, you want to elevate your style to the next level?! Well, Tziporah Salamon and her highly exceptional eye for style and genius way of dressing, may just be your answer. Tziporah (pronounced ziporah) is one of New York City’s most stylish women over 60. She is widely known for being featured regularly on Advanced Style, being Bill Cunningham’s muse and having been chosen for Lanvin’s Fall 2012 campaign.

Tziporah’s life has always been surrounded by fashion, with her Father being a tailor and her Mother- a seamstress. Her parents are of Hungarian Jewish descent and both survived the Holocaust. Her Father managed to survive the labor camps by sewing the Nazis uniforms. Throughout her childhood in Israel, her parents would always make her clothing. Her Father made little boys clothes, while her Mother made little girls clothes. “I would literally wake up in the morning and there’d be a pile of clothes for me to play with. Sometimes I was a little boy…Sometimes I was a little girl and I was equally comfortable always with both,” she recalls.

Eventually, her family packed up and moved to New York. She went off to Berkeley to pursue a Ph.D in pyschology, but later realized that it wasn’t for her. She moved back to New York to be closer to a world that has always held a special place in her heart- fashion. Throughout the years, she’s had several jobs, ranging from a hat check girl to a saleswoman at Bergdorf’s (where she was told to not outshine the clientele) to a waitress and hostess. She currently teaches part-time and has her two famed classes- The Art of Dressing and her one woman show- The Fabric of My Life. She also does guest lectures, personal styling and closet consultations.

Throughout her lifetime, Tziporah has amassed quite a collection of mainly vintage and antiques finds, while also mixing in current pieces (her favorite designer is Comme des Garcons). She dresses daily, her outfits always taking on a persona of a painting. Sometimes it takes her a year or more to plan out one outfit. Her way of dressing is literally an art form.

I had the privilege to sit in on her Art of Dressing seminar in Los Angeles recently. I was so excited that our LA trip coincided with the time of her seminar. I felt like it was fate. Ever since hearing and reading about the Advanced Style ladies, I immediately was entranced by their style. It was creative and not “normal.” I started following Tziporah on Instagram and just fell in love with her use of vintage and mixing patterns, textures and color. She also always is never seen without a hat. So after hearing that she was in LA when I was, I had to attend. The seminar took place at a beautiful “Old Hollywood” style home in the hills of Los Feliz and spanned the course of a two-hour session of getting to know your body and learning how to dress creatively. During that time, myself, along with 19 or so other stylish women sat on the edge of our seats as Tziporah taught us tricks on how to elevate our way of dressing and to not be afraid to experiment. Fashion Illustrator- Justine Limpus Parish was also in the audience, sketching Tziporah in her different looks. Tziporah would start out with a classic base piece and just when we thought the outfit was complete, she would layer on more…and that made the the outfit look even more fantastic! She played with pieces that ranged from a 1910s lace jacket to chunky bakelite, lucite and amber bangles; lovely 1930s Pongi silk Japanese pajama sets and vintage denim. No outfit was complete without a statement hat, a funky pair of glasses and clever shoes (I died over the Prada Japanese style platforms). It was just so intriguing to be in the presence of this artist, as she was working her magic with only a small closet of clothing and a table of accessories. Her pleasant and captivating personality shone as she explained the “method to her madness” with detail or an amusing story. The evening ended with networking, photos and dress-up. I of course, left feeling INSPIRED!

Some takeaways from Tziporah:

I cannot wear what other people wear..because I’ve always had clothes specially made for me. I love vintage for that reason…With vintage, somehow you get more for your bucks. And it lasts longer and its great. (She credits her favorite vintage shop in LA – Golyester.)

When it comes to dressing, you have to think about proportion, silhouette, color, texture..all of that goes into consideration.

Always buy good shoes… You can’t scrimp on shoes.

You have to figure out what suits you.

Don’t wear obvious labels or logos. (Putting emphasis on the “double C’s”)

Always buy quality of quantity!

When women hire me, I don’t want them dependent on me, I teach them so that I can leave them and they can be masters of their wardrobe.

If you’d like more information on Tziporah, to contact or book her services and find out more on her seminar- go HERE. You can also check out the articles on her on Advanced Style.

Rongrong Devoe – Fashion Illustrator

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to draw. However nowadays, my focus has changed…but I do admire folks who are talented in the art of illustration…in all industries. I recently heard about Rongrong Devoe- a local Houston fashion illustrator- via Popshop and of course, instagram. She has the gift of taking images of models, celebrities and bloggers and creating remarkable likenesses of them on paper. I had the opportunity to not only sit down with her to discuss her blossoming career as an illustrator, but also watch her draw a model in the latest Elie Saab collection.

LAFS: Tell me a little about your background in the fashion industry?

Rongrong: I moved to NYC to pursue my Master’s degree of Illustration at Fashion Institute of Technology six years ago. While I was in school, I worked as a part time design assistant at a women’s apparel company for a year, while freelancing as a fashion illustrator as the same time. After I graduated, I worked as a full time CAD designer for a private label company for three years. I mainly use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to design intimate apparel and sleepwear.

LAFS: What got you started in illustration?

Rongrong: I have loved drawing ever since I was a child. I fell in love with fashion when my Mom bought me the first fashion magazine- ELLE China since I was 15. I spent so much time drawing beautiful models and clothing during my teens. After college I realized there is a career called fashion illustration, so I decided to apply to FIT to study fashion illustration.

LAFS: Why “fashion”?

Rongrong: I have always loved drawing beautiful things. Models, gowns and street style are my major inspirations. Can you imagine without fashion, how boring the world will be?

LAFS: Do you have any mentors/favorite illustrators or designers you look up to for inspiration?

Rongrong: Yes. A lot of people inspire me, such as: David Downton, William Bil Donovan and Jennifer Lilya.

LAFS: What is your working environment like?

Rongrong: I work at home most time, though sometimes in coffee shops. There is one spare room in my apartment that I use as my studio.

LAFS: What mediums do you use?

Rongrong: I use pencil, watercolor and Japanese brush. But I am always looking for new mediums to experiment.

LAFS: Three words that describe your work?

Rongrong: Playful, Detailed and Colorful.

LAFS: Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a career in fashion illustrating?

Rongrong: I think you have to ask yourself how much you love fashion illustration? If you decide to pursue this career, you need a lot of practice and need to have social media accounts to share your work and to connect with your audience, which is essential!

LAFS: Where can we find you to see your work and connect with you?

Rongrong: I have a website and I am also on Instagram and Etsy.

In summary, Rongrong and her incredible talent are a huge asset to Houston’s fashion industry. I’m so happy she chose this city to call home and I’m excited to see what she does next!

** Thank you for the illustration of me! **

Rongrong from Heather on Vimeo.

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