Spring/Summer 2013 Fashion Show
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People Are Talking About …
Jonathan Blake By Kalyani Giri Jonathan Blake walks into my office at exactly 5.00pm. He’s so punctual that I harbor a sneaky suspicion that he’d arrived much earlier and killed time in the parking lot. Casually smart in black jeans, structured jacket and a t-shirt, he’s like a breath of fresh air, disarmingly charming and polite. I’m curious about this man-child who at just 21, is poised to debut his first line of haute couture to a discerning coterie of highbrow and iconic fashionistas at the Junior League of Houston on October 3rd. He shows me his work. Sketches and photographs of his designs so eloquent, that they spring to vivid life on my computer screen. Flirty swing-skirted dresses in jewel-toned silks, exquisite flowing gowns with rococo necklines, trailing trains embellished with Swarovski crystals or delicate handmade organza flowers. His pencil channels classicism faintly reminiscent of vintage Givenchy, but Jonathan’s designs are inherently distinctive. He delves deep into his own psyche and imbues his wearable works of art with a romantic wistfulness and maturity far beyond his years. “I think women are beautiful, and they’re happier when they’re wearing something that makes them feel more beautiful, elegant,” says Jonathan softly. There’s a sweet vulnerability about him that I worry he’d lose in that horrendously aggressive fashion industry. Then he tells me that his favorite historical woman is Marie Antoinette because her clothing “fascinates” him, and I smile mentally and start to think that my fears are unfounded. This young man is going to be just fine. Flights of Fancy At age 12, Jonathan Blake had serious existential thoughts about what he wanted to be. He vacillated between acting and design. He joined the Page Parkes
Talent Agency and did some acting but decided at age 17 that his heart just wasn’t in it. He loved toying with fashion and his peers at the Tenney School started noticing and validating his effortless panache. After high school, Jonathan joined The Art Institute of Houston to study fashion, retail, and merchandise management. Following in his parents’ footsteps, he also got involved in philanthropic organizations that benefit and help children such as Children At Risk and Justice For Children; at humanitarian events, he widened his circle of friends to include people in the fashion trade. Impatient with classes and convinced that he could venture out on his own as a designer, Jonathan ran the idea by his friend, fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo, who encouraged him to take that leap of faith and to start working on his own line of women’s wear. “I just dove in, but it was a lot of hard work,” Jonathan says with an impish grin. His family supported his decision wholeheartedly. “Dad is a career entrepreneur and anything remotely entrepreneurial makes him very happy, and as for mom, she’s thrilled by the idea of getting free clothes!” He moved into a sprawling apartment that he fashioned in the Upper Kirby/River Oaks area, a living space he’s obviously proud of. It’s close to his favorite haunts that include Tony’s, Mashraff’s, and Mark’s American Cuisine. Designs On You Who is Jonathan Blake’s target market? “Definitely fashion-forward women who enjoy wearing unique, elegant, and feminine clothes,” he says. “My clothes aren’t boring, they have visual impact and are head-turners.” His designs are often nature-inspired; a soft petal, a plumy cloud, butterflies, the shape of a flower, lends impetus to the creative process. His favorite orchids have sparked hours of inventive reverie that translate into beautiful dresses and skirts. “I’ll mull for days over basic shapes and follow the direction they take me. Sometimes I envision one outstanding gown, or have several different ideas that carry me elsewhere,” says Jonathan.
All his designs are in natural fabrics, never synthetics, and he procures fine quality silk from New York. He has a skilled team of eight people that make patterns based on his prototype, cut fabric, and sew the clothes. His couture ranges in size from 2 – 10, but upon request, he is happy to please the client. The Chutzpah to Succeed Beyond the youthful demeanor lurks an old soul. Jonathan is driven and he has the chutzpah to succeed. His days begin early and are packed with a tight schedule. When he has free time he indulges in hobbies like reading mystery novels, travel, scuba diving, and snorkeling. He is passionate about his favorite designer Tom Ford, another Texan native, who dramatically restored and revolutionized Gucci. “People don’t just buy a white Tom Ford button-down shirt because of its high quality, they buy it because it stands for his story,” says Jonathan enthusiastically. When he’s done with the launch, Jonathan plans on adding handbags and shoes, menswear, fragrance, and jewelry to his designer line. It’s a plan that excites him. Inspiration Jonathan is inspired by music, nature, and the people in his life who believe in him and help illuminate his path forward. “My heroes are Elizabeth Taylor and Carolyn Farb,” he says without hesitation. “Carolyn is so elegant and she can move mountains.” I call philanthropist and author Dr. Farb who had originally introduced Jonathan to me, and she has equally generous words for the emerging young star. “What is most fascinating about Jonathan Blake is that at 21, he has amazing grace, talent and style. Jonathan’s work shows the flair of someone twice his age. His designs are breathtakingly classic. Personally, Jonathan is reminiscent of the late 20’s actor and pop-icon Rodolpho Valentino and has his own unique persona,” says Carolyn Farb. (This article was previously published in the July 2012 edition of HUM Magazine, a new lifestyles monthly publication in Houston.)
I take great pride and pleasure in thanking the following special people in my life for all their wisdom, help, and kindness in helping plan my debuting event. they are: My beloved parents John and Mandy tinkle for all their support over the years Close friend, my mentor and muse, Dr. Carolyn Farb Close friends and mentors, Dr. Meherwan Boyce and Mrs Zarine Boyce eric Vaughn of Michael kemper – hair designer for the Jonathan Blake line Malcolm Rowland for his generosity in helping with arrangements at the Junior league of houston Bambi lynn and Page Parkes for helping with organization of the show and providing wonderful models for the evening.
I offer special thanks to my generous sponsors: •Page Parkes Modeling agency •BLinc by Bambi Lynn •Michael Kemper Salon •Jewelry by Valobras Fine Jewelry •Flowers by Nino •Neiman Marcus
Media Acknowledgements •Houston Chronicle •HUM Magazine •Ultimate Heights Magazine •002 Magazine