Since 2012, Tony Harris has been the local face of Fashion Week, taking the reigns as producer of the annual weeklong event after Fashion Group International disbanded; it’s easy to wonder whether he’s grown weary of the gig.
Harris, however, swears his excitement hasn’t waned. ”I tell people all of the time, it’s really a brand new experience for me every single year because our programming gets bigger, the participants and sponsors and support that we have get so much bigger,” he explains.
And it’s true, the week’s international roster keeps growing, with shows from Colombia-based Jorge Duque Velez, Mexico-based Alexia Ulibarri, and Demestiks New York’s Reuben Reuel (whose demand recently skyrocketed following a shoot where Beyoncé and Solange Knowles wore his garments); Fashion Week San Antonio (FWSA) marks the U.S. premiere for Velez and Ulibarri, and the San Antonio premiere for Reuel.
Acting as the sole curator of the young festival (”It’s very important for me to streamline a process that gives focus to what fashion is really about”), Harris prides himself on his balance of both local and outside designers that capture the unique spirit of San Antonio; but, of course there is bound to be a certain degree of personal subjectivity to his process.
Following a social media outcry over his omission of local designer Leighton W. Couture, Harris stood by his program. He emphasizes, ”When we developed Fashion Week San Antonio, it was all about recognizing the local talent and the local industry as a whole. The strategy first and foremost is to really recognize talent locally that is worthy of recognition.”
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The following are a few hometown highlights, many of which can be found inside Texas A&M–San Antonio’s Centro de Artes, known during FWSA as Showspace.
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS MASQUERADE BALL: #FWSA Kick-Off
Pull the sugar skulls out of your closet and kick off FWSA in high fashion. ”Last year we were very impressed with how many people just got it beyond right with how far they went out for these garments, and I’m excited to see what they’re going to come up with this year,” says Harris. And as always, these threads count, with prizes awarded to the top three best-dressed attendees. The night includes the reading of the FWSA’s official proclamation by Mayor Ivy Taylor, complimentary cocktails courtesy of El Jimador Tequila, and nonstop sounds by DJ Jarvis.
With a focus on contemporary feminine design and high-end bespoke garments, self-taught designer Angelina Mata is a mainstay in the San Antonio fashion industry. ”I get humbled every time I speak with her, because as an artist she just blows me away. When we talk, I think, who thinks of these things? Who thinks of this?,” exclaims Harris, who at the time of our meeting, had not seen Mata’s new collection. ”And Angelina would probably like it that way,” he laughs.
Mata hints that the line will focus on geometry and juxtaposition with a ready-to-wear sensibility. ”This season we’re looking to Japonism and pulling references from that. Embracing traditional tropes of femininity, adding elements that are contemporary, familiar and bold,” she explains.
ARTE OF FASHION GALLERY
Now in its second year, the Arte of Fashion Gallery gives artists the chance to develop visual art with a sartorial flair. The exhibit marks the beginning of what Harris hopes will be a long, exciting artistic partnership with contemporary artist Cruz Ortiz. Also featuring Estela Aguirre from Mexico, the gallery celebrates the intersection of fashion and art for a good cause. Thirty percent of the proceeds from each sale will benefit Girls Inc., the official charity of FWSA 2015.
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