FH5: Southern Roots, Breaking Barriers and Jadakiss

The next designer to take the stage on opening night at Fashion Houston was New York-based brand, Tibi. But before she settled on the East coast, company founder Amy Smilovic grew up in the South on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. She was incredibly sweet and a gracious person to interview. Smilovic is also a huge fan of culottes (saying before they have the ease of trousers but look like a beautiful skirt) and presented a collection that was classic, laid-back and breezy for Spring.

Tibi founder Amy Smilovic and me
Tibi founder Amy Smilovic and me

Another favorite took the stage, following Tibi, Jonathan Blake. The man behind the brand is actually named Jonathan Tinkle, and he’s another designer who proudly keeps production of his garments local. He was also the youngest member of The Houston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2013.

But FH5 wasn’t just for designers who have established themselves as powerhouses in the industry (or at least are on the way there). It was also about touting the upcoming generation of designers who proved they deserved to be on the catwalk, too. That’s where Little Black Dress Designer came in — a competition that gives students the opportunity to create their own version of the iconic LBD and win thousands in scholarship money. LBDD was the brainchild of Neal Hamil Agency director Jeff Shell.

At the initial LBDD presentation back in May at the House of Blues, students were paired with mentors and muses. Their assignment was to create a LBD based on their muse. What they came up with was finally unveiled at FH5.

I also had the chance to interview Sameera Faridi. Originally a native of Pakistan, she’s brought the beautiful traditional wear of South Asia and blended it with Western culture to create a stunning line of bridal wear, gowns, formal wear and menswear. Faridi also told me — don’t think sarees are just for special occasions. She wants people to know they can be worn for any event. This is her way of breaking barriers. Proving that cultures can co-exist and bringing them to life for anyone to wear through fashion. Have nothing to wear for date night? No problem. Grab a saree! And you’ll definitely want to grab hers. They’re all hand-embroidered.

Faridi is the first South Asian female designer to debut her new collection at Fashion Houston.

Wrapping up the night was New York based, Grungy Gentleman. Contrary to the name, this line was anything but grunge. The collection brought to Houston was actually the same one debuted at New York Fashion Week and mixed traditional tailored menswear with luxe fabrics like suede and rich colors like oxblood.

But perhaps the biggest surprise in the whole line was who came out with the models. Jadakiss started rapping on stage, upping the “it” factor of the line and showing that Fashion Houston wants to step out of the “Houston-isn’t-a-fashion-capital” shadow.

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