Students walk the runway at a local fashion show

Chloe Zhao, Staff Writer

When stopping by DAO CHLOE DAO, a boutique on Kirby Drive, junior Katherine Johnston and sophomore Anna Prillaman were offered modeling gigs by owner Chloe Dao, the winner of season two of Project Runway. The next thing they knew, they were strutting down a runway in Sabine Street Studios alongside sophomores Rimmele Crady and Alexandrea Williams.

On Jan. 18, designer Chloe Dao and Houston Chronicle fashion editor Joy Sewing hosted the Designers’ Platform Houston Fashion Show, featuring 16 rising designers from the Houston Art Institute and Houston Community College.

While shopping for a Cotillion dress at DAO CHLOE DAO, Johnston met Dao, who offered her the opportunity to model at the fashion show. A few weeks later, Johnston received a text from a designer working with Dao confirming Johnston’s first modeling gig.

Like Johnston, Prillaman was shopping for a dress when Dao asked her if she would be interested in walking in the fashion show. She had gotten to know Dao after years of frequenting the store for formal dresses.

Before the girls knew it, they were strutting down the runway, styled in clothing from designers Sanaz Elkhassi, Kyndall Bollmeyer and Ebonie Sophus. Although they enjoyed their experience, Johnston admitted that being a newcomer to the modeling business did come with a few stumbling blocks.

“I won’t lie, I was not very good at walking at first,” Johnston said. “One of the runway coaches there gave me a tutorial on how to walk down a runway — it was [tough].

Although Johnston and Prillaman was assigned outfits beforehand, the fitting behind the runway was a slight challenge.

Originally we had certain pieces assigned to each model. The dress I planned on wearing was somewhat tight in the hips, while the dress another model was supposed to wear was too tight in the waist, so we traded,” Prillaman said. “It was pretty chaotic trying to make sure that we fit in our dresses because the designers didn’t know our measurements beforehand.”

Prillaman also noted the responsibility of representing the designers whose dresses she was wearing.

“I felt like they were trusting me to make sure the audience liked their collection and the dresses I was wearing,” Prillaman said. “It was cool to be a part of introducing their designs to the public.”

Although being the center of attention on the runway may seem daunting, nerves were not a problem for Johnston.

“I wouldn’t say any of it was really scary, but it was definitely hard not to smile,” Johnston said. “The most fun part was how everyone there was just so nice. I made so many new friends.”