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FH5: Lebanese Elegance and Walking with Dem Boyz

The final night of Fashion Houston started off with a little help from the NFL. Houston Texans running back Jonathan Grimes played piano and sang back-up vocals on the slick, white runway for Taylor Crowley, who gave her own jazzy renditions of songs like Sia’s “Chandelier.”

Houston Texans running back Jonathan Grimes showing his musical skills off the gridiron
Houston Texans running back Jonathan Grimes showing his musical skills off the gridiron

With that, the first collection swept the catwalk with some of the most gorgeous gowns I’ve ever seen. They were from Lebanese designer Rami Salamoun. His work featured dresses that were lacy, daring (thanks to the high slits, low cuts and conveniently placed details over certain body parts)  and literally sparkled on the models. His bridal gowns almost made me wish I was getting married. Almost.

Salamoun also played up his pride for Lebanon — the lights went down and came up again to reveal a model wearing a robe of the Lebanese flag. Lebanon’s national anthem rang out during the display, which garnered applause from the audience.

Someone else who used music to send a message through his show was Haitian designer Fabrice Tardieu.

685During my interview with him, he gushed about his love for Houston — so much so that he’d consider moving here! FH5 also wasn’t his first rodeo (had to put that in there!). He showed in 2012 as co-owner of the brand Bogosse, which was a business he shared with his brother. This time around, he brought along his line of luxury jogging suits (think sets blended with leather and Japanese denim) floral prints and shirts with a print of Benjamin Franklin. He also dropped a hint to me during our chat: pay close attention to the music. It comes from artists who have worn his eponymous brand.

So, what tune helped give models their swagger during his show? Wiz Khalifa’s “We Dem Boyz.” And it looks like the models were taught well — Tardieu did his bow or should I say, dance,  to the song, too.

While the crowd bounced to the beat (myself included), the musical hint reminded me of something a friend of mine used to tell me all the time: miss a moment, miss a lot.

Stay stylish!

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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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FH5: Hollywood Drama Comes to Houston

Fashion Houston turned five years old this year, and I was on deck for the celebration. It returned to the Wortham Theater Center downtown and featured 21 emerging and legendary designers in its’ most diverse year yet.

I had the opportunity to cover the show as part of the first-ever Fashion Houston TV, where I met and interviewed the talented designers of opening night. I also worked with a great production team, Michael Allendorf & Company, that specializes in high fashion photography and video production.

661Fashion Houston founder Jared Lang and KHOU 11 News Morning Anchor Lily Jang kicked off the night as emcees and introduced the lineup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut before the models wowed us with each designer’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection, I sat down with Alexis Monsanto, a designer originally from the Philippines. Monsanto first made headlines in 2011 as the first designer in the U.S. to be part of a fashion show using 3D effects. He’s also known for adding dance routines to the runway (which one designer did this year, but more on that later in an upcoming post!).

667While there wasn’t any dancing in Monsanto’s FH5 show, it was multi-dimensional, complete with masks, feathered headpieces and four buff men carrying a model like she was a queen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs Monsanto told me during our interview, “I’m bringing the high drama of Hollywood to Houston!” And he delivered on that promise. See pictures from his show below. I’ll post the interview as soon as it’s available!