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Catwalks & Classrooms


Vignette of three finished pieces by first-place winner Ebony McCan. Vignette stylist is Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint. Artwork by Nicola Parente.

Vignette of three finished pieces by first-place winner Ebony McCan. Vignette stylist is Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint. Artwork by Nicola Parente.

Design Competition Showcases Up-And-Coming Local Designers And Their Upcycled Fashions

By Cheryl Alexander | Photos by John Smith of Black Smith Photo

The epitome of Art and Fashion Collaboration transpired in the Picasso Rooms of downtown Hou­ston’s JW Marriott Hotel on Sept. 24, with design house Magpies & Peacocks’ (M&P) innovative design competition Catwalks & Classrooms. Characterized as Chopped meets Project Runway in concept, 17 selected fashion design students showcased their final collections styled in place alongside the hotel’s contemporary artworks by artists such as Gonzo 247, Blanko and Lyle Owerko.

M&P upped the ante of the event by skipping the traditional runway show, opting instead to coordinate the student pieces with the hotel’s prized contemporary art collection, combining the artwork with the eco-fashion forward pieces. Working with Tammy Dowe Green, founder of Esperson Gallery at GreenStreet (the gallery that curated the hotel’s art), and a team of noted stylists that included Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint, Houston Vintage founders Dawn Bell and Maria Martinez, Shelly Bishop of Shelly Bishop Styling and events coordinator Greg Davis of Event Elementz, the room was transformed into their dream vision – where luxury window display meets Art Basel Miami. The design competition allowed 17 students to create upcycled looks from donated materials. Students as young as 14 taking fashion design courses were eligible to participate. Scholarships were among the top prizes awarded to the winners.

M&P is a “nonprofit that supports other nonprofits” by taking donated, upscale fashion accessories and repurposing them into collections that are then sold to raise money for other local organizations. The organization works with local artists, designers and students to create unique lines and to help carry the “support local” torch forward.

The company, launched in 2012, is a partnership between friends Sarah-Jayne Smith, a Brit with a background in interior design who moved to Houston 15 years ago, and Ahshia Berry, a marketing and public relations consultant originally from New Orleans.

After her move to the States, Smith began to see a need for a donation system that allowed people’s belongings to take on a special new life. So far, M&P has helped over 50 charities and 30 young designers by collaborating with several great schools within their Catwalks & Classrooms arts education program, including The Art Institute of Houston, Houston Community College and Glassell School of Art– providing raw materials, mentorship and creative support for emerging designers.

Students create and present upcycling fashion items for the Catwalks & Classrooms competition event after they learn about about deconstruction, reconstruction and recycling from M&P. Design students transform donated items into completed collections. A percentage of the sales from that collection will then benefit a local charity.

Part of the program focuses on teaching designers about the fashion business and connecting them to the retailers where some of their products are eventually sold. Students are also given the opportunity to meet and tour the facilities of local, nationally recognized designers and receive valuable mentorship.

“There’s a place for young designers here in Houston, and we can showcase them,” Smith said. “We don’t want to lose our graduates to New York. We need to show them that they can be successful here.”

That’s also why M&P hosts Catwalks & Classrooms, their signature event.

“We’re talking about building relationships with people, getting designers to collaborate with schools, getting schools to collaborate with charities,” Smith said. “We’re trying to build bridges so that Houston’s a better place to incubate designers.”

Winning designers are as follows:

College Division Winners – all students from The Art Institute of Houston

First-place winner Ebony McCan.

Second Place: Shronda Hayes

Third Place: Kim Nyguen and Kenneth O’Veal

Junior Divison Winners – students

from Glassell School of Art and

Fashion Camp Houston

First Place: Christina Van Hal

Second Place: Megan Siemann

Third Place: Tia-Rose Pezzani

Guests in attendance at the Catwalks & Classrooms event included Houston’s own Project Runway winner Chloe Dao, NYC designer and Born Again Vintage author Bridgett Artise, artist Jumper Maybach, Page Parkes agency director Erik Bechtol, NYC celebrity fashion stylist and artist Rene Garza, Fashion Houston founder Jared Lang, Houston Arts Alliance’s Amy Gibbs and Kate Ostrow-Yadan, The Art Institute of Houston president Susanne Behrens, and campus relations director Amy Gordon. Sponsors for the event included Page Parkes Corporation, Houston Modern Luxury Magazine, Houston Arts Alliance and JW Marriott.

Ebony McCan

Ebony McCan

Junior Division first-place winner Christina Van Hal standing next to her finished pieces. Vignette stylist is Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint. Artwork by Nicola Parente. Handbag by JulieBeth Handbags.

Junior Division first-place winner Christina Van Hal standing next to her finished pieces. Vignette stylist is Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint. Artwork by Nicola Parente. Handbag by JulieBeth Handbags.

 

Vignette of junior division second-place winner Megan Siemann, whose piece is the standing wedding gown. Other pieces by college division students Averye Tiffany Dilbeck and Tony Tran. Flowers by Paper Flower Artistry. Vignette stylists are Houston Vintage co-founder Dawn Bell and Magpies & Peacocks founder Sarah-Jayne Smith.

Vignette of junior division second-place winner Megan Siemann, whose piece is the standing wedding gown. Other pieces by college division students Averye Tiffany Dilbeck and Tony Tran. Flowers by Paper Flower Artistry. Vignette stylists are Houston Vintage co-founder Dawn Bell and Magpies & Peacocks founder Sarah-Jayne Smith.

Megan Siemann.

Megan Siemann.

 

Junior division third-place winner Tia-Rose Pezzani standing next to her winning outfit. Vignette stylists are Houston Vintage co-founders Dawn Bell and Maria Martinez.

Junior division third-place winner Tia-Rose Pezzani standing next to her winning outfit. Vignette stylists are Houston Vintage co-founders Dawn Bell and Maria Martinez.

 

Vignette of second-place winner Shronda Hayes. Stylist is Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint. Artwork by Steven Silverstein. Handbag by JulieBeth handbags.

Vignette of second-place winner Shronda Hayes. Stylist is Lisa Powers of Lisa Powers for StylePoint. Artwork by Steven Silverstein. Handbag by JulieBeth handbags.

Shronda Hayes.

Shronda Hayes.

 

Third-place winner Kenneth O'Veal inside of his vignette. Kenneth’s finished piece is the jacket with halter top and pants. Dress is by student designer Shelana Shutterbrandt. Vignette stylist is Shelly Bishop of Shelly Bishop Styling. Artwork by Richard Blanco.

Third-place winner Kenneth O’Veal inside of his vignette. Kenneth’s finished piece is the jacket with halter top and pants. Dress is by student designer Shelana Shutterbrandt. Vignette stylist is Shelly Bishop of Shelly Bishop Styling. Artwork by Richard Blanco.

 

Third-place winner Kim Nguyen standing next to her finished piece. Vignette stylist is Houston Vintage co-founder Maria Martinez. Artwork by Lyle Owerko.

Third-place winner Kim Nguyen standing next to her finished piece. Vignette stylist is Houston Vintage co-founder Maria Martinez. Artwork by Lyle Owerko.


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