Designer Preston Boyer (’13) premieres fourth collection with on-campus runway show

An attentive crowd of students, alumni and fashion enthusiasts packed into Flores Hall on Sep. 16 to see Preston Douglas’ latest clothing line, “SAINT JOHNS,” inspired by the St. John’s uniform.

Preston Douglas Boyer (‘13), who uses his middle name in the fashion industry, reinvented the traditional conservative uniform into a high-end avant garde manifesto of individuality. Influenced by his time at St. John’s, the line reflects the burden that Douglas, a St. John’s “lifer,” felt as a student.

“Exploring those similarities between where I was and where I’m at now really started the collection,” Douglas said.

The genesis for the fashion show occurred when Douglas approached visual arts teacher Dan Havel last spring with the idea of having St. John’s host an art exhibition in the Glassell Gallery.

According to Havel, Douglas’ idea was “a perfect first exhibition in our gallery, and the whole idea of the fashion show came after that”. “I was thrilled to make it happen.”

The exhibition features original artwork by Douglas as well as pictures of his other fashion lines and works from some of Douglas’ friends, including his girlfriend Grace Deal. While waiting for the fashion show to begin on Sept. 16, guests had time to wander through the exhibit.

Photography teacher Chuy Benitez met Douglas when he was a student in study hall, where they would talk about shoes. According to Benitez, Douglas was one of the first students to think about sewing the Sue Mills logo onto non-uniform clothing so he could wear what he wanted: “His first thoughts of fashion design came from learning how to break the dress code.”

Douglas’ first foray into fashion was as a sneakerhead. As a freshman, Douglas would buy the latest Nike shoes and then review them in a series of Youtube videos. This prompted his love for fashion and was an inspiration for his new line.

“When the first model went down the runway, I almost lost it. I had let go of a lot of my past from high school and my St. John’s days,” Douglas said. “The whole process was so beautiful because I’m in a position where I always wanted to be when I was sitting in class. At the same time, I’m dealing with my new “St. John’s,” which is the fashion industry.”

Friends from high school came out to support Douglas’ new fashion line. For many, this was not their first fashion show. Steven Lukens, who played guitar in the pop-punk band Nintendo 69 with Douglas (‘13) also attended his first show “Calamity I Serenity.”

Classmates were excited to see Douglas’ continuing development.

“Preston added a lot of emotion to the SJS uniform, which is typically stoic,” Zach Tippitt said. “It was nice to see a school uniform displayed with passion.”

“SAINT JOHNS” reflects Douglas’ time in the Upper School. Some of the most memorable outfits included long sleeves and ties that drag along the floor, chokers and models carrying multiple bags.

Douglas admits to struggling with substance abuse until he quit about three years ago.

“Douglas felt that he didn’t really fit the norm, which was painful and led to issues that he has overcome,” his mother Gaye Lynn Boyer said. “He has been able to take them and turn them into a positive.”

Both current students and alumni could recognize the varied aspects of the SJS experience in both the exhibition and fashion show.

Junior Warda Mohamed felt the fashion show presented a different way to think about our school: “You never really understand what people are going through.”

The exhibition also highlights a less traditional path that some people take after graduation.

“My job in this gallery is to show that alums do go into the creative field,” Havel said. “It shows our students that they don’t have to be a lawyer or a doctor. They can follow their passion.”

Friends, teachers and colleagues of Douglas were interested to see how he has grown both since his time at SJS and since his first collection debuted in February 2016.

“Every time I work with him, he gets more professional,” said Clinton Elliott, one of the models in the show. “There’s lots of growth and progression. Douglas is one of the few people that understands fashion culture, and he’s taking the bull by the horns.”

Douglas released the lookbook and clothes from “SAINT JOHNS” Sept. 23 on his website and will send it to his contacts in the fashion industry. He started designing his next collection about a month and a half ago.

According to Havel, “Preston is pushing it as hard as he can to be as important as he can be in the fashion world.”