Q&A: Chloe Dao Talks Dead Poets and H-Town Style

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Chloe Dao, winner of

Project Runway

season two and native Houstonian will introduce

Dead Poets Society

at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston tomorrow as part of the Movies Houstonians Love series.

Houston Press

Assistant Night & Day Editor Dusti Rhodes called her up to chat about her decision behind the choice as well as her decision to stay in Houston.

So, the obvious question: Why did you choose Dead Poet’s Society?

That movie seriously changed my life and it’s no joke. I was actually majoring in business marketing at the University of Houston and I always wanted to be a fashion designer but I just didn’t think I could do it. After watching that movie, I was like you know what, I’m going to follow my dreams, because that movie really is about following your dreams and your heart and not listening to your parents. So, honestly, after that movie I dropped out of University of Houston, enrolled in Houston Community College with their fashion design program there and went for a weekend in New York City just to check out New York and it turned out to be a year. I just called my mom and said, “I’m not coming home!” That movie did it all it just gave me the strength to just follow my dreams and not care what people thought.

I remember on the Project Runway, you talked a lot about how you went to New York, did the New York thing, and then decided I just don’t want to do this anymore and you came back to Houston. That’s really going against the grain, as well, in terms of high fashion and what most people who want to make it do.

Exactly. The whole movie, the Dead Poets Society club, I forgot what the name of it was, the motto is “Got to do more, got to be more, got to see more” and I just live my life to do as much as I can – pretty much, that motto. And I thought, you know, I really want to follow my dream, screw it. This is my way of just experiencing my life against all the rules.

That movie inspired me because that motto still makes me go, okay, you know when I’m lazy and I don’t want to travel I go “I got to do more, I got to see more, I got to be more.” It’s exhausting, but it makes your life more exciting.

So the fashion in the movie didn’t really inspire you?

[Laughs.] No, not fashion wise. I mean, I did have cute, preppy clothes. I mean, cute uniform clothes. The movie has this 1950s kind of theme, costume wise I think. I think I saw some poodle skirts in there. So, not fashion wise, but I wouldn’t be fashion designer without that movie. I’d probably be some buyer or something. I’d be in fashion, but like the wimpy way. You know how you kind of sneak behind the scenes because you don’t think you can do your real job – the job you really want?

Going back to the Houston thing. I’m one of those people who really loves Houston and gets tired of people dogging on it.

Oh yeah, I can’t stand it.

So, being someone in the position you’re in, why did you choose to stay with Houston hen you could go anywhere?

Oh, believe me, I encounter it every interview. I mean, I really love the city of Houston because without Houston I wouldn’t be Chloe Dao, fashion designer – professional fashion designer at least. It’s such an amazing city for young designers. You would not think so, but this economy, how you can honestly open a store and not be broke in three months is an amazing feat in itself. Everything is reasonable here and I think as a young designer you need that because any young business, you don’t have a lot of money to start out with and I love that the city gives you that opportunity to succeed above everything else. And the fashion hunger is here, I mean, people are very sophisticated here, we love anything that’s fashionable. It’s not just that Texas cowboy style, which I can’t stand. I mean I love the style, except people associate that solely with Texas. I think, if anything I see the diversity here, I see the sophistication, I see the hunger for fashion.

The only other question I have is, like you, I come from a family full of sisters; my sisters and I used to always watch Dead Poets Society and choose who are our boyfriends would be? Any of that go on in amongst you and your sisters?

Yes! Oh my god, yes! I wanted the whole cast. [Laughs.]

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