Combined Smashin' Fashion Show + Houston's Best Stylist Competition Promises a Double Dose of Fashion Fun

For Houston image expert Sarah Shah, style happens from the inside out. "I help people bring out what's inside them, rather than just putting something on to them," Shah recently explained over coffee at Down House. "Most people in this business tell people what they should wear, and then get mad when [the clients] don't like it. My job is to figure out a person's natural style, their own innate sense of what they should wear, and I take that and go from there. I guess I go a little backwards!"

Now Shah is poised to make a splash with yet another makeover, and this time it's a big one. She's making over the entire runway on July 31 at the first-ever Smashin' Fashion™ Show--Houston's Best Stylist Competition, at The Art Institute of Houston.

When Shah sent out a call to Houston stylists with her idea about a fashion show with a stylists' competition thrown in, she wasn't expecting the huge response. "I sent out the invitation via word-of-mouth and got over 40 inquiries!" said Shah. "Ten stylists are competing, and there is a good mix representing various styles." Expect to see folks like Val Anderson (Style to Envy), the Tissue sisters (Kissue online boutique), and Houston's own 13-year-old fashion blogging wunderkind Taylor Grace (Somewhere Over the Runway) in the mix.

Shah also found the models herself, and the stylists will be tasked with using Shah's "Dress Yourself Skinny" strategies to create the winning look. Producing the show is none other than Bambi Lynn, creator of Fashion Houston, and while tickets are now wait-list only, sponsorship spots are still available, and are now the only way to get tickets to attend. "We sold out in 11 days," marveled Shah. "We never made it out of pre-sale!" Of course, the show will be heavily interactive--including a runway backdrop created by Instagram users--so anyone can virtually attend on July 31.

The models--described as "real-world sized women"--are participants from Shah's Runway for the Rest of Us™ workshops, who will work with their stylists, Shah, and Bambi Lynn, to learn how to walk and pose on the runway. The winning stylist will take home $1000, plus use of professional photographs for their professional portfolio; models also take home their own professional photos, plus modeling experience, not to mention bragging rights. Judges include Sarah Gabbart (Houstonia), Cherise Luter (Houston Press), Sabrina Miskelly, and Shah's own personal coach, Mattison Grey.

"I hope this show makes people realize that clothes are for them--that fashion is for them," said Shah. Dressing well and looking beautiful is not about the latest trend, or spending a lot of money according to Shah, who after years of dressing and re-dressing the human body says she's learned one very important lesson. "It's all an illusion, baby! When you look at a fashion magazine or a runway, the women are dressed in a way that makes them seem like a size six when they are a size zero or two; most women don't want to add three sizes, and I can show you another way to dress, another way to be, in this body you have now."

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Christina Uticone