In the midst of Houston’s Heights, you’ll find an up and coming area of warehouse like buildings flourishing with shops and art. Among those buildings was the venue for last weekend’s Pop Shop Houston Summer Festival, an event that invites anyone and everyone to take a glance at beautifully crafted artwork, clothing, and jewelry, not to mention fun with live music and creative drinks. I entered the venue without a clue as what to expect, but from the outside I could hear fun and lively music, and that’s all I needed to be excited about what was to come.
I am not one you’ll usually find among the fashionable in Houston. In fact, most of the time you’ll find me in workout clothes and sneakers because my life revolves around my dog and I’m usually sporting a lovely layer of shedding fur. Dick Clarke, STRUT’s co-founder, who just so happens to be my oldest brother, is quite the opposite, and for the longest time, I never understood the want or need to dress outside of what was practical. Luckily, he pushes my boundaries, and made me go to this event, which changed my perspective on the matter, as all great art should.
As I walked around the venue I gazed upon gorgeous handmade jewelry, felt the textures of handcrafted garments that were vibrant with color, and felt inspired by watercolor paintings that represented the emotions of one’s soul. It wasn’t long before I started smiling because I was in a room full of people in love with their craft, and hundreds of people were there to apricate it and help support these artists dreams.
Ah yes, how cliché I must sound to talk of dreams in such a way, but have you ever just watched those around you genuinely care about what they’re doing? The difference it makes is staggering, and here I was, lucky enough to be surrounded by such passion.
The purpose for my being at this event was so that I could watch the fashion show that would showcase the designs of four local designers, and then write a recap of their clothes. Now that I’m sitting down to type this all out, a recap doesn’t feel like enough.
I have never attended a fashion show, and although I am often around the men behind STRUT, I never thought I would, but here I was sitting in a chair marked “reserved” about to experience art in motion. I didn’t know what to expect, but as the music began and the models started to move so effortlessly across the runway, I was taken into an entirely different world. I had tunnel vision, or I guess we can call it runway vision, and was encompassed by each individual model’s ability to present these clothes like they were the only thing that mattered.
Beautifully tailored, 60s inspired pieces with African patterns, jumped out at us first from designer Kristiane Charrier. Jumpsuits, high-waisted skirts with matching crop tops, and dresses moved down the runway as up-beat rhythmic music played to match the feel of the garments. Then we experienced rockabilly style from Grits Co. Edgy models, styled to fit the 40s and 50s eras, dressed in denim and graphic t’s, moved down the runway with sass and personality, bringing life to the old-fashioned greaser look, while still matching 2017’s vintage inspired street style. Next, more African inspired garb presented itself by designer Hannah Ephraim. Male models were dressed in beautifully handcrafted and vibrant suits, and mermaid shaped dresses of bright orange with pops of blue and purple were made to look like fluid by these effortless models. Lastly, we would be taken into the mind of Brittney Anele, who’s designs make you feel as if you should be in a museum. Dresses made from soft plastic street signs, Siamese twin inspired conjoined tops, where two models were attached at the arm to wear it, and yellow dresses with three dimensional smiley faces, all walked barefoot down the runway. And then, just like that, it was over.
An uproar of claps and cheers came from the audience as all four designers, along with their models made one last appearance before the crowd cleared and the night ended. I must have looked quite obviously new to the scene because I stood still as everyone else broke away and went about their evening.
I didn’t quite know how to process such an event. I’d always made my assumptions about fashion because I didn’t see it as an art, but just the clothes you wear on your back. And to some, I’m sure it will always be just that, but here, in the middle of the hustle to create a piece of art that flows and moves with the human form fluently, I found myself quietly apologizing for my lack of appreciation towards the incredible minds of these designers. I could never do what they do, hell, I don’t even know how to dress myself half the time, but here they are creating masterpieces that don’t just hang from a wall or sit on a bookshelf, but art that gets to move and be seen by the world; art that gets to be a part of it all.
The definition of art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. There is not one part of that sentence that isn’t fulfilled by the people that represented themselves at Pop Shop Houston and I thank them for allowing me to be lucky enough to attend such a beautiful representation of their passions and change the way I now see their world.
Written By: Anna Clarke
Photographer: Jesse Greene