Spending a month traveling across the globe to attend various fashion weeks twice a year is not always in the cards. That's why Michelle Ray, founder and CEO of Gaelle Inc. and designer of 2 African Girls, brought six days of shopping, philanthropy and fashion to the Bayou City with Houston Iconic Fashion Week. The grand finale was a charity runway show held at 51fifteen inside Saks Fifth Avenue at the Houston Galleria.
“Houston Iconic Fashion Week means a week of fashion and philanthropy, highlighting not only the icons of the fashion world but also people in Houston who are doing iconic things for the community,” says Ray.
The event was moderated by Mattie and Chaseray Harvey of Men’s Wearhouse, the retail chain that has become the leader in suit sales and tuxedo rentals, hosted by celebrity creative director, stylist and designer Ty Hunter and co-hosted by South Africa’s Bonang Matheba, a media personality and global brand ambassador for Revlon Cosmetics.
“It’s an awesome feeling, it’s like going full circle. I’m in awe. I’m really speechless,” said Hunter. “It’s great to be honored in the hometown where everything started for me, back in the day, 16 years ago, working for Destiny’s Child.”
Hunter began his career in fashion working at The Galleria at Booyaka—Who else remembers shopping there? It was the store every middle schooler’s mom didn’t want to shop at because of its skimpy clothes and tight jeans. He has a great sense of humor about his origins, too. “You knew you'd made it when you worked at Bebe,” he joked.
With sounds from twins Corianna and Brianna Dotson (known for their Coco and Breezy eyewear) the charity runway opened with Karl Kani, the Godfather of urban wear, showcasing just that. My immediate thoughts went to the #MyCalvins global campaign.
Think back to the women who ruled the '90s hip-hop and R&B scene—TLC when they walked the 1995 MTV Movie Awards red carpet and Aaliyah and Missy Elliott’s tomboy style and Adidas jumpsuits. Models sported similar trends: bare midriffs, hot pink bucket hats, oversized brand sweatshirts, etc. as seen on models Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin.
“God put me on this earth, that I know, to be a clothing designer. I didn’t grow up thinking this is what I would do, but the fact that my dad used to get his clothes tailor-made inspired me to start making my own clothing and it’s an inspiration for me to continue to do what I do and be able to design clothes for the best hip-hop artists in the world and I’m blessed to do that,” said Kani, who received the evening's Iconic Legacy Award.
Houston-based stylist and designer Travis Cal showed new designs Saturday evening. Sexy silhouettes, fitted gold jumpsuits and boldly printed menswear button downs were a part of Cal’s 24K Carat Gold Collection. “I’m always inspired by the fabrics. I look for strong patterns, bold colors and then I kind of let the fabric lead me in the direction of what the piece should be,” said Cal.
Afterwards Hunter introduced Bonang Matheba and walked the runway himself, hand selecting well-dressed attendees to join them in walking the runway.
Next were designs from Pinkie Blue on a group of adorable kids who walked the runway hand in hand, sporting colorfully printed smocks and two-piece bloomer sets. Following that, Louisiana's Christien Kollection showed both spring and fall designs before models walked to DJ Khaled's "Wild Thoughts" wearing Tomas Benitez eveningwear designs. Houston’s own Chloe Dao ended the evening with a variety of evening wear.
The designers chosen to showcase their collections are those that Ray respects and admires. “Each of them is either iconic in their own right, or, on the road to being iconic,” she said. Proceeds from the charity runway show are to be donated to the Ray of Sun foundation, which helps empower minority youth around the globe by educating them in science, technology, engineering and math.