Design student Jazzy Abram brings ‘refined drag’ to El Centro fashion show
At the Women’s Museum, 3800 Parry Ave. May 7 at 7 p.m. $10.
Sometimes you might watch Project Runway or The Fashion Show and think that fashion isn’t really like that — the pressure and deadlines are there just for drama’s sake.
But Jazzy Abram does little to dispel the myth that fashion reality doesn’t imitate reality TV. In real life, the deadlines aren’t so onerous; otherwise, yeah, it sounds like a circus.
"Oh, we’re all crazy in here," he says when a reporter shows up around dusk. "We don’t get to see anyone all day, just each other. It’s nice to have someone else in here."
Here is the third floor room where Abram is one of six students enrolled in the fashion program and gearing up for Fashionscapes, El Centro’s annual fashion show and student showcase, now in its 36th year. This year’s theme is centered on sustainable fashion, with the sophomore students presenting collections in recycled and organic materials and fabric running the gamut from casual to sophisticated looks.
The students are concentrating hard on their designs, with some distractions blocked out by earbuds. At times, they break into discussion about Runway. Students scuffle around their dress models and chairs to use the iron next to Abram’s table.
Abram’s workspace is filled with scraps of fabric he’s working with for the 10th piece in his first collection. Like the jewel-toned eveningwear he prefers, Abram is as colorful as his couture. His self-made cap is flowery and tipped with just the right attitude. His smirk is made for any of the TV fashion shows. But his bubbly demeanor shouldn’t take away from his passion for fashion.
"I’ve always wanted to sew," he says. "My mom taught me when I was 8. I didn’t think there was a career in it but I began working with designer J.D. Martin and he’s been such a mentor."
He’s titled his collection, "Romancing the Rhinestone," because his 10 pieces (possibly 11) exhibit his direction toward the bright and sparkly. Abram calls this his signature look: the stones, the colors and perhaps his favorite, the rouching (what most people call gathering or bunching). These ingredients all come together for his old-school glamour style. He cites Marilyn Monroe and Joan Crawford as influences, then throws in Alexis Colby for good measure.
"It’s all very diva," he says. "I look at it as a highly evolved sense of drag. I’m a very girly designer. You have to understand a woman’s body. It doesn’t hurt that I sometimes do drag myself."
Abram will even likely be at the show in full drag regalia. But he’s anxious to see this as an opportunity. He wants his Jazzy Azzy Couture line to say something out loud and he specifically uses brighter colors and baubles on his dresses to cheer up both himself and hopefully the person wearing it. Like contestants on TV, fashion does hold something dear to him. He knows he’d still want to stoke those creative fires in some sense.
"I wouldn’t know what I’d be doing if not this," he says. "My true desire is to own a boutique, but if I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be a female impersonator."
And as he would say, that’s just Jazzy.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 30, 2010.