What do you do when you're the parents of two successful entrepreneurs? If you're Jonathan Blake, the answer is simple: you become one yourself. And by any barometer, the 23-year-old fashion designer is definitely a success.
Jonathan discovered the magnetic pull of the fashion world while still in high school when a chance encounter with Carmen Marc Valvo at Neiman Marcus led to a trip to New York City to see the acclaimed designer's studio. "We got to see his entire facility, which was an entire floor of a building," he recalls. "I got to see the whole process of designing, how fabrics were picked, and I got to see things before they were even in the store. Then I realized this was something I really wanted to do."
His designs are elegant, but not stuffy; beautiful, but not superfluous; feminine, but not girly. They're exactly the type of garments you would expect a stylish and smart woman of the world to don for a special occasion. When brainstorming concepts for a new season, he takes his inspiration from the best. "I admire Karl Lagerfeld for being different. He could do literally anything he wanted and it would look amazing." He also cites Versace for his wild uses of color and pattern, as well as James Galanos "who probably made some of the best clothes that any designer has ever made."
Jonathan also believes that Houston provides an interesting climate for provocative fashion choices. "Houston fashion is very unique because we don't have one specific style. We have a mixture of people, some who dress very casual and some who dress very elegant and some who dress in between. There are some people who dress like they're from California and some who dress like they're from New York. I really like this mix because you can wear whatever you want."
The versatility of the city is very much reflected in his collections, but each of his looks share a distinct quality: women want to wear them. "I hope women experience the feeling of being elegant and beautiful," he says. "Fashion is all about making people feel good, and look good."
What he does: "I tell people that I'm a fashion designer, and that I have my own line," he says. When people ask him what he designs, he refers to the technical term for his creations: prêt-à-porte, or high-end ready-to-wear garments. Why he likes it: For Jonathan, fashion is a way to make a statement without having to say a word. "I like fashion because it's a way of introducing yourself without having to verbally communicate or shake a hand," he says. "You can kind of gather what a person's about by the choices they make in their dress. It's very personal. It's a form of art that we live our lives in."
What inspires him: When you have the challenge of designing a collection for every spring and fall season, inspiration has to be found in all directions. "The current collection is very coastal," he explains. "There's some inspiration that came from the ocean, and the Hamptons as well. Also Gatsby." For the fall, Jonathan is planning an edgier look to his brand, one that has its basis in rock and roll chic. Compare that to his fall 2013 line, which had the sophisticated, powerful woman as its theme. "It really just depends on what's around me."
If not this, then what: Prior to pursuing fashion, Jonathan studied acting. He enjoyed the hard work that is involved in the craft, which he says is more than what people actually see. But in the end he realized he wasn't as passionate about acting as he was about designing. "And I don't believe you should be doing something unless you're passionate about it."
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If not here, then where: There are two places that have captured Jonathan's imagination. The first would be New York City, "because it's big, but intimate at the same time." The second is Colorado, "because it's beautiful and you actually get to experience nature."
What's next: Jonathan is planning to launch in London following a soft launch this past November in affiliation with members of the royal family and their charities. He's also planning a soft launch in Aspen, Colorado in the fall, as well as preparing for the debut of his handbag line.
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer