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Damsel White Label Creates Buzz for Alternative Brides
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Late Night Vintage and Antiques Shopping at The PLACE Upstairs
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Ladylike Brunching
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‘Fashionably Illustrated’ with Langford Market x Rongrong Devoe
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Pink Hair…Don’t Care!
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Butterfly Wings and Oversize Bow Dreams for Fashion Houston 2014
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Rongrong Devoe – Fashion Illustrator

Damsel White Label Creates Buzz for Alternative Brides

The cold weather didn’t stop prospective brides-to-be and their friends from going out to Silver Street Studios Events open house this past week. The inaugural event, organized by Piper & Muse, was titled “The Creative Heart of Houston” and showcased several creative wedding professionals; including Cafe Natalie, Swift + Company and Flora Eventi. The event seemed to be quite interactive, ranging from mingling with industry experts, tasty food and cake sampling, a fun photo booth and a DIY station provided by Pop Shop.

The main reason I was there was to support friend and local bridal designer- Natalie Harris of the Damsel White Label, who hosted a runway show showcasing her latest creations. I would describe Damsel White Label, which launched in 2013, as ‘couture for the alternative bride,’ as her designs aren’t for the typical cookie-cutter bride. The rebellious yet sophisticated gowns feature unexpected details; such as killer stripes, edgy silhouettes, laces and bursts of color. The looks that evening also boasted bouquets constructed out of brooches and bits of fabric. Harris states that she designs for the Montrose/Heights/Austin-type gal in mind and creates styles that stay true to the wearer’s personality. She offers her client “Haute Custom Service,” where she takes her passion for design to the next level. She works one-on-one with the client, starting from the initial consultation and works with the bride to customize and make sure the dress is PERFECT for the big day. The entire collection that was showcased is customizable, from the hem length, a sleeve addition and even down to the fabric substitution. Harris showcased a floral print gown, where the print was actually designed by Harris herself, which that too, is also customizable. Harris goes on to explain, “Brides may order a custom print as a sentimental touch used as a print lining. Past clients have chosen everything from punk rock concert posters to a memoriam with a father’s army stripes or grandmother’s favorite flower. From the inside out, Damsel White Label strives to make gowns that make everyone say, “Oh, that’s so [insert amazing client’s name here]!”

If you are currently on the hunt for a fun yet edgy gown for your big day and want to break away from the tradition- definitely check out Damsel White Label.

Late Night Vintage and Antiques Shopping at The PLACE Upstairs

The PLACE Upstairs

3708 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002
HOURS: Thursday-Saturday 9PM- 1AM
FACEBOOK

“Beautifully Bizarre” is the tagline for The PLACE Upstairs- Houston’s latest and greatest late night antique and vintage shopping experience. With a tagline and offbeat shop hours like that, you just have to wonder…’What DO they have up there?’ and ‘Who goes antique shopping at 11:30 at night?!’

The PLACE Upstairs is located well…as it’s namesake states…upstairs and above the local neighborhood bar- Continental Club. The whole 2nd floor of the building is actually a hidden gem of local vintage shops, but The PLACE Upstairs just happens to break the mold and stand out just a tad bit more. It opened in September 2013 by husband and wife proprietors- Laura and Mike, who also own Replay on 19th Street in the Heights.

Them being long-time collectors of vintage, antiquities and oddities themselves, decided to cash in their ‘wealth of stuff’ or ‘401K’ as they humbly call it; when they found that perfect spot in the Mid-Main section of Houston. Once the space was established, coming up with a name of the shop was also somewhat of a daunting task. Though it wasn’t until one brief conversation with the owner of the Continental Club for the name to be set…

The conversation went something like this:

CC Owner: ‘What are you calling your new shop?’
Mike: ‘What, the place upstairs?’
CC Owner: ‘Yeah, what are you calling it?’

So you can imagine a gigantic lightbulb above Mike’s head going Ah HA! The name was vague, enough to make you question- ‘what is it’? “So we didn’t want to say what it was…but we did want to say WHERE it was.”

Then the shop was first opened, 100% of the merchandise was from their personal collections; though now it’s more like 85%. Laura recalls that when people would come up to the counter with an item, she would say, ‘Oh! This was above my sink for fifteen years!’ “Everything has a home to me still (in my head). Like, I know where it was in my house…”

Laura credits all her beautiful stuff softens the blow of Mike’s bizarre stuff (such as antique medical tools, doll parts, taxidermy). They have a running joke, “You might want to try on the rhinestone bracelet, but it might be on a raccoon paw!” She says the oddest things she has are the post-mortem photos. “I think it’s fascinating that that might have been their only memory of someone. And that they pose them like they were living. It’s just utterly fascinating. Morbid in a way, but in an endearing way.”

The earliest piece they have in the shop is a Roman coin, followed by pieces from the 1850s/60s and then up. My guess is that there is nothing really above the 1960s (and that’s even pushing it). I could literally stay there for a few hours, just looking at the 1800s/1910s beaded handbags, clothing and just…stuff… that’s the best way I can put it, because there’s just a hodge-podge of curiosities that could fit every category … Also, the best thing is that there’s usually a story (provenance) or two behind everything and usually Laura or Mike are happy to tell it. The average price- points of the shop are $30-40ish, but there are bits and baubles for $1 and apparently a item or two up to $8,000. “We want people to leave with something. We like to think of this place as an adoption agency. We are just finding homes for treasures.”

Ladylike Brunching

** Photos by Nicole Kestenbaum (edited by me) **

(Vintage Skirt- Arbor Antiques estate sale, Vintage Hat- Citywide Garage Sale, Vintage GUESS Knit Top- thrifted, Shawl- Ann Taylor, Shoes- c/o Cobb Hill Shoes, Fendi Handbag- thrifted, Wrap Bracelet- c/o Alden Rae Jewelry via Brunette Showroom.)

Despite it being a dreary day, I still wanted to add a tad bit of color to my outfit for brunch with the girls. I opted for a fun vintage Americana crinkled skirt and paired it with my knit sleeveless vintage Guess top. I knew I’d be chilly (as there was a slight chill to the air and despite 60/70 degree weather, restaurants and shops always seem to crank up the A/C) so instead of the usual jacket option, I decided to grab my incredibly soft crochet shawl I bought at Ann Taylor when I worked there several years ago. Not wanting to put my feet through torture on the last day of the weekend, I chose to wear my vintage style low-heeled pump by Cobb Hill Shoes (New Balance’s stylish sister company) and my feet were comforted by the cushiony insoles. The boy and I even took a stroll in our neighborhood park and the shoes did really well on the uneven ground. I thought the shoes and the hat played a huge part of my “ladylike brunch” outfit.

‘Fashionably Illustrated’ with Langford Market x Rongrong Devoe

My lovely friend and fashion illustrator- Rongrong Devoe hosted the ‘Fashionably Illustrated’ meet-the-artist event at Langford Market in Rice Village last night. Her presentation of her wares: prints, cards, totes and cell phone cases complemented Langford Market’s boho esthetic. Large framed prints hung all around the store. It was chance to shop, have light bites, champagne and mingle with the artist; who also did live sketching with an in-store purchase.

While there, I also met another fashion illustrator- Eva Duplan, who recently relocated to Houston from Dallas. She is (now) a mutual friend of Rongrong and I’s. I do hope that there are more events that enable local artists like Rongrong and Eva to showcase their talents to the community. These ladies are incredibly talented and their illustrations embody different traits that are special and unique. Basically, my point being… everyone has their own way of perceiving things and these ladies show that through their illustrating.

Before I took my leave, I had the chance to see Rongrong in action, sketching the cutest customer, wearing a hot pink knit sweater and billowy floral skirt. I was impressed to see that it probably took Rongrong maybe ten minutes to sketch her. The illustration (in color I might add) turned out exceptional and the girl was just ecstatic with joy.

Keep up the great work Rongrong!

Pink Hair…Don’t Care!

** Photography by Nicole Kestenbaum Photography **

(Vintage Top- THE Place Upstairs, Skirt c/o Choies.com, Clutch- H & M, Heels c/o Nine West.)

Yet another night of Fashion Houston 2014! I now officially LOVE wigs!

Butterfly Wings and Oversize Bow Dreams for Fashion Houston 2014

** Photos by Nicole Kestenbaum Photography and Audi **

I’m wearing a vintage AJ Bari Dress, a DIY Clutch and DIY headwear (tulle and small butterflies bought from Hobby Lobby). This was also during Fashion Houston 2014.

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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