Tucked back behind buildings in north Houston’s industrial jungle lies a photography studio you would never know was there. The hidden workshop’s parking lot was empty, and it blended well with its adjacent units until a car full of stylists arrived and started unloading the possible looks for fashionista Sabrina Bispe who would be arriving only moments later, and when she did it were as time had stopped.
Hangers were being dressed in outfits, accessories were being organized on a table, and lights were being moved to fit the scene as the stunningly beautiful Bispe walked through the door with a quirky and honest smile stretched across her face.
The talent had arrived and it was time to start shooting.
We all watched in awe as she slayed the camera, her face contorting itself to fit her confident and proud body, which sported styles most will never be able to pull off. She made it all look so easy, so elegant; it was obvious that this was what she loved to do.
We stayed in this wonderland of fashion for hours, only breaking for outfit changes and a switch in music to add fuel to artists at work. When the shoot was finished, everyone, including the stylists, were tired and hungry.
It was then that I was given the chance to talk to Bispe about her style and what truly inspires her modeling career.
“I grew up in an environment where I was taken around a lot with my mom. Most of my beginning memories are of me going to lunches with her at Neiman Marcus,” Bispe said.
As a child, it was hard to keep her focus on the adult conversations shared between her mother and friends, so Bispe would wonder through the many stories of Neiman’s store.
“I’d start roaming off after a while because of their talking. Memories of me going through Marcus’ dresses, running my hands through the beads and looking at all of the mannequins with wigs thinking, I wish I could wear my hair like that or wish I could be posing and wearing clothes like that,” Bispe said.
But it wasn’t just her early years spent in the famous department store that helped create the fashionista, it was her family heritage too.
“I’m Colombian, and they [Colombia’s] take pride in looking good, even to the supermarket,” Bispe said.
Her family knew the importance of appearance that taught from an early age that the phrase “dress to impress” should be taken seriously.
“Even when my aunt would go to the market she made sure she had on her mascara and a lipstick before she went because you never know who you’re going to run into,” Bispe said.
With a smile on her face, she added:
“So that kind of lifestyle, that kind of upbringing, made me pay attention to clothes.”
As a fashion forward child, Bispe knew that she was going to take flack for being ahead of the style curb.
“When I was young I was a little weird and awkward because I didn’t have a form of expressing myself, but later on I started going outside of the bubble. As soon as I got into high school I started wearing things that were considered weird or different,” Bispe said.
But that didn’t matter to Bispe because this was her form of identity.
“I didn’t care if anyone called me weird because I knew I wanted to wear it and I knew it was in style,” Bispe said.
The feisty and forward teenage Sabrina was determined to know about the fashion world and even spent time studying the works of designers.
I studied fashion too. What would I do in my spare time? I would go to Barnes & Noble and look at fashion magazines. I’d get snacks and go look at the books and look for fashion inspiration,” Bispe said.
Her love only grew over time and then it became who she was.
“That’s what I really love about fashion, being able to express yourself, and showcase everything,” Bispe said.
We continued on for another hour, filling the noisy restaurant with stories of modeling experiences and fashion do’s and don’ts, and towards the end she left me with this:
“Every day you wear something new to represent how you’re feeling, it’s an amazing form of communication and way to connect. Fashion is a form of armor.”
In our time spend together it was easy to see that Sabrina Bispe is a voice for the fashion community. Her confidence radiates, her beauty stuns, and her personality inspires. Whether she’s sporting a preppy, classic look, or strutting a gothic and dark piece, you’ll recognize the wonderfully fashionable Bispe, not only for what’s she’s wearing, but for who she is.
Photography by Khoi Dao.