From public pools to the High Line in New York City, even that time Tommy Hilfiger crafted a makeshift lagoon; the creativity of the fashion world trickles from the catwalk to the art of the show surrounding. Houston, you're up. Manuel Reuter, and his newly formed production company, When Worlds Collide Productions, aims to change the game as far as fashion shows go in town.
At his first show this past January, set in an abandoned rice silo, llamas, fire dancers and aerialists performed alongside models down the runway; and his next promises to provoke murmurs even moreso. Reuter describes his first show as "industry colliding with fashion," and now his second as, "nature colliding with fashion." Sounds like Versailles is back. Well, let's hope so.
On June 28 at the Houston Arboretum, one trail in particular will be the setting of an 180-foot catwalk that will host a single row of 250 guests one side, on the other, a serene forest backdrop. Models, wearing square platforms, will dodge natural armadillo holes as you, I or the Buffalo Soldiers long ago would have. Reuter is adamant about leaving the smallest footprint possible, with no more than 20 people setting up or dressing in one area at a time.
"He called me to tell me I broke his heart." Carol Nicolaisen, the rental and wedding manager for the Houston Arboretum explains. After initially shutting down his idea, she decided to invite him back. He returned prepared with a minimal impact plan, something she could agree too. Reuter states, "every now and then you will find people like Carol that share in the vision."
A portion of ticket sales will go to supporting the 50-year-old Houston Arboretum's mission of education and conservation. The site, rich in history dating back to the Civil War, is currently under remodel and when finished, it'll have over 5.2 miles of trail with plenty of parking for visitors. Through science programs, over 10,000 children visit a year, and as Carol describes, "those aren't always kids from affluent areas; it's for all the kids."
Reuter bent down to swirl his bracelet gently in the still pond water. To be located in the middle of the fourth largest city in America, it's remarkably quiet there. "Look," he said quietly. Sure enough, big and small, turtles began to lazily surface where he had lifted the bracelet moments ago to clasp back onto his wrist. "What other fashion shows can give you this?" said the Brazilian-born, Paraguayan-raised and now, proud Houstonian. "All it takes is a little imagination."
The Mystic Forest Fashion Show will feature nymphs and fairies brought to life by Paul Mitchell, and while I don't want to give away all the surprises, a magical creature will also be present. Reuter will hold open casting calls with hopes to curate local talent.
Four Houston designers will highlight ten pieces each, all a little different, but all very Houston.
From off-the-rack couture that can be found at his boutique on Voss to limited-edition pieces, David Peck of Miles David states, "there are so many shows that happen in a year, it's nice to have something that's a little different and unexpected." Peck, who studied in Paris and New York, has been an exciting Houston designer to watch over the years.
"Inspired by heritage, defined by culture." Designer Luis Astengo and his brand Engomichu, embraces his Peruvian heritage, no matter the theme or season. He'll be showing pieces available online as well as hard to obtain Peruvian fabric exclusive wear. Think, bohemian chic pieces for a long weekend in Tulum. Astengo, who worked with Reuter in January notes their creative styles, "his will always be something unexpected, mine will always be culture."
Danny Nguyen of Danny Nguyen Couture is here to make a splash, "I want to make a statement in Houston, to improve our fashion scene." Having spent time in New York City, he describes Houston as much larger, with a much closer connection to people. He'll be showing pieces from his spring, summer and fall 2018 lines. Think spring florals and shiny metallics.
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IsreL Fonseca intends to show the "fantasy of evening wear in contrast to the forest around." With Mystic Forest Fashion Show, he's excited to present his vision in a more artistic setting. "Art in life form." Fonseca sees the Houston fashion scene on the verge of discovering many creative artists. His collection will highlight tinges of gold and flame.
"I want to do something exciting, something Houston has never seen before," Reuter said as turned back to the trail. "When it comes to creativity and fashion, we want to show the world that Houston has a lot to offer."
While the Mystic Forest Fashion Show is an event not to be missed, Reuter already has his next idea in the back pocket, "history colliding with fashion."