Photographer Steven Hill holds toy drive Saturday

Steven D. Hill has children on the brain. As we noted when we profiled him this summer, the talented photographer and fashionista loves helping young people — as he did in an exhibit last August that benefited Vogel Alcove, an organization here in Dallas that provides vital services, material necessities, and developmental care to homeless children. Well, if children ever need someone looking after them, it’s during the holidays, so Hill is back with a toy drive that will deliver toys to kids served by Vogel Alcove, and also Kidscapes Foundation, which assists children living with HIV/AIDS and disadvantaged children struggling with obesity, through education, fitness and art.

On Saturday, Nov. 19, Hill’s Heads with Hearts foundation hosts a mixer (featuring savory bites, as well as desserts from the Cupcakery)  at the Downtown clothier Binzario from 7 to 9 p.m., and admission is just one unwrapped toy.

For more info, visit TheHeadswithHearts online.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Fierro, en fuego

Born in El Salvador, Oscar Fierro hopped the border with the intent to become famous. Now the designer and TV fashionista is making his mark — and he’s not shy about saying so

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

OSCAR GOWN | Designer Oscar Fierro, below, finds the perfect marriage between fashion and fundraising when his runway show also acts as a benefit for the Legal Hospice of Texas this weekend. Photo by Jirard.

DAMAS DE BLANCO
Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.  $15­–$50.
DDB2010.com

……………………………….

Oscar Fierro admits that modesty is not a value he subscribes to. He’s just not a humble person.

That might lead some to think he’s cocky, but really, he’s just confident … and not just because he’s a gay fashion designer with a sense of entitlement. It’s because he’s been through hell and doesn’t plan on going back.

“My journey to United States was painful and basically a miracle,” he says. “When people try to knock me down, I laugh about it. I crossed three borders [Guatemala, Mexico and Texas] and I have made a name for myself in a short time. It’s gonna take a whole army to bring me down.”

As a boy in El Salvador, he attended school barefoot and ate a meal only when he could. He emigrated to the U.S. illegally, but because El Salvador was in the middle of a civil war, he was granted asylum. He made his way to Dallas in 1990 to live with his “very straight brother and his family,” but Fierro found stability in his work as a waiter at Mercado Juarez.

“When people leave their country they say they’ll make their money [here] and go back,” he says. “But why in hell would I ever go back? Once I experienced the wonderful sense of freedom and flushable toilets, I knew this was for me. Toilets to me were the best things ever. But I also knew here, I could make my dreams come true and even help people in a way.”

On Thursday he’ll demonstrate that mission with the Damas de Blanco runway show, where he will debut his spring and summer collections. All proceeds will benefit the Legal Hospice of Texas, which provides legal services to low-income individuals with terminal illnesses or HIV.

“I think it’s the perfect marriage between fashion and charity,” he says. “When fashion can be attached to a great cause, I think it makes it better.”

Charity is crucial to Fierro. The struggles of his family and those near to him inspired Fierro to start the Oscar Fierro Foundation. In 2004, he returned to El Salvador to find that people still needed help, mostly children. His foundation helps to rebuild schools and provide for kids where it can.

Fierro’s dream has remained pretty basic: He wants to be famous. He knew from childhood that he wanted to be involved in entertainment. He began by helping make dresses for beauty pageants in El Salvador; that’s when his path to fame and to America was starting to reveal itself. But really, fashion wasn’t a passion — it was a vehicle to get to where he wants.

“I have a clear mind for logistics and I knew, whether as fashion designer, singer or whatever, I’d have to embrace myself to not make money doing it,” he says. “So I concentrated on working to pay bills and then ventured into fashion.”

He started designing in 2000, mostly because he had to create his own clothes. At 4-foot-11, finding fashionable clothing that fit him was a challenge. Figuring he’d have a niche market, he began designing for shorter bodies.

“It kept pulling me in and I loved it,” he says.

In 2008, he finally debuted his first collection — to him, a lightning-fast record. Fierro’s dreams were coming true.

“It was like an explosion when it came out. I’m not ashamed to say it, but I believe I have great talent and personality and people can relate to me. That has been the combination for me to go as fast as I can in fashion. Other designers in Dallas have been at it that same amount of time but haven’t been able to reach the level I have yet.”

As much as he loves his adopted home, he says Dallas isn’t as stylish as it pretends to be. Despite some success here, he has to work in New York to really put his designs out there. Dallas has some catching up to do.

“Dallas is not fashion-ready and you can put that in bold print,” he says. “These ladies can tell you all day long how fashion forward they are and how they support local fashion, but fashion forward for them is big hair — that’s it.”

That acerbic wit is enough to get him on television. Gabriela Natale of Telemundo tapped into Fierro’s sassy talk on fashion and celebrities as the fashion police on her Spanish-language show SuperLatina.

“Oscar is a natural,” says Natale. “He is an exquisite designer, an over-the-top diva and the fiercest fashion critic, all in one. He was born for TV.”

So: Television, in print and on the runway. All that’s left is one thing and perhaps his American dream will be fully realized.

“We’ve sent gowns to stylists for the Oscars, but I’m not aware of any red carpet where my gowns have appeared,” he says. “But one celebrity that I wouldn’t like to dress is Paula Abdul. She’s a crime for a fashion designer.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Project one-gay

Dallas hairstylist and fashionista Gregg Asher has an unforgettable look. But he’s turning his eye on the rest of Dallas with a new fashion blog

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

FASHION FORWARD  | If you had Gregg Asher’s closet, you might not come out of it either. Although as a man who wears gold Bottega Veneta high-heeled boots, it’s hard to stay in. (Photo by Steven Lindsey)

T­here are people who, when they walk into a crowded room, turn heads.

And then there’s Gregg Asher, who’s probably responsible for more cases of socialite whiplash than anyone else in Dallas.

Along with partner David Martin, Asher infuses the see-and-be-party-scenes with a heavy dose of high glamour through attention-grabbing personal style. Laden with designer brands from toe to head (he builds his outfits from the shoes up), it’s not just who he’s wearing, but what he’s wearing. If there are two signature items in a Gregg Asher ensemble, it’s gorgeous high-heel shoes and amazing handbags.

But, he stresses, he’s not doing drag. Or cross-dressing. His is a style that transcends traditional labels — while piling on plenty of couture ones.

Perhaps surprisingly, his fashion fierceness partly stemmed from pure necessity. He wears a size 5½ men’s shoe and weighs less than most female supermodels. Shopping off-the-rack in the men’s department was not an option. The boys’ section, maybe. But Asher in Garanimals? Just. Not. Right.

“My waist size — they don’t even make pants my size. So I need to either go to Asia to go shopping — and I don’t have time for that — or it’s easier for me to go buy something for women at Barneys or Neiman’s or J. Crew. Whatever it is that suits me.”

It all comes down to what he thinks is beautiful, no matter where it’s found in-store.

“I don’t wear dresses. I don’t want to be a woman. I have more of a beard than straight burly men in the sticks could ever grow,” he says. “But when you find something that you enjoy wearing, or doing, it makes you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t have to be a dollar-and-cents thing; it just has to make you happy.”

Asher’s soothing, soft voice is in stark contrast to his outward extravagance and sharp humor. When a man walks into a room wearing Burberry Prorsum platform buckle boots and a Jean-Paul Gaultier scoop-neck sweater, chances are most people would expect some obnoxious queen with an affected attitude matched with a horsey cackle. But nothing could be further from the truth for Asher. At any Dallas party, he’s probably the kindest, most approachable person in the room. It’s just his wardrobe that’s intimidating.

When we meet at his swanky Turtle Creek high-rise, he answers the door in a green cashmere turtleneck and flared tan corduroys by Balenciaga, a green-blue-yellow tree-print jacket from Tuleh and burgundy suede Fendi platforms. You know: typical Sunday afternoon casual. At least in the Asher manse.

Italian couture is a far cry from Jonesboro, Ark., where Asher grew up. But he learned early on to embrace his individuality, ultimately turning it into a successful career as hairstylist to some of Dallas’ highest profile citizen (among his clients: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders), as well as a trendsetter and fashion icon in his own right.

His enthusiasm for style led Asher into his latest venture, a blog called FashionBaggage.com. As a regular at New York Fashion Week and runway shows all over the world, the fashion part comes easy. It’s the technology that was a little iffy for him.

“I didn’t even have a computer until, like, two months,” he says. “Even in high school when they offered computer class my senior year, I was like, ‘Oh no, I’d rather take home ec.’” He laughs, knowing that’s even funnier since neither he nor Martin cook.

ONLINE IN STYLE | Asher barely knew how to turn on a computer until he started the blog FashionBaggage.com

Asher posts entries at least every other day, offering up witty commentary on current trends, revealing his latest purchases, playing dress-up with Martin and snapping candid pictures of the fashion dos-and-don’ts he encounters around town; he says spotting an Hermes Kelly bag on someone at the State Fair of Texas restored his fashion faith in humanity.

“We can all read Vogue, and sometimes it’s over your head. I always felt like I was a laughed-at personality in the community, so why not write all that down and let others be entertained by it,” he says. Then he reveals his more strategic side: “Ultimately I’m working and branding myself into the TV market, so it’s just one more step in the process and adding more variety to the things that I already can do.”

Asher is currently working with three different production companies on a variety of ideas, though he admits his appeal is more niche, making it easier to work a story around him than fit him into some reality-show mold. Although that’s not to say that he wouldn’t consider a role on Logo’s The A-List: Dallas.

“I’m not hunky enough and I definitely won’t be taking off my shirt for any of that, but I have enough drama and excitement in my life to add something to that show,” he says.

“I think there’s a stereotypical version of what a gay man is and I don’t fall under that. I almost embody what a lot of people find that they’re embarrassed about the gay community or what they think the gay community gets a bad rap for,” Asher says. “And I think I elevate the community just as much as anybody else does, I just do it in a different way.”

…………………………..

ASHER’S TRENDS: DOS AND DON’TS

You don’t need to read up on back issues of Vogue to have insight into where style is headed — just listen to Gregg Asher’s recommendations about what you can do to spruce up your wardrobe:

I love heels (obviously) and think women should definitely wear them — they elongate the silhouette and make anyone’s legs look better. I love Fendi shoes because their heel heights are almost teetering on too high (though a heel can never be too high). One of my favorite shoes for guys for this fall/winter is the entire collection from Rick Owens who shows platform wedges. Yes, it’s probably way too avant-garde for most men, but it’s super sexy and totally masculine when worn with the right clothing. And there’s nothing greater in fashion than someone who is totally confident — and these boots demand that!

Trends that I’m seeing for guys for spring are lots of denim. In fact, when I was at Fashion Week, it seems denim is everywhere (for guys and girls), but this is not your everyday, regular old pair of jeans — it’s been treated and cut into modern silhouettes and shapes, and the denim is used for all pieces and has great details (even laser cut lace pieces of this fabric look new and fresh).

Another trend would be for men to definitely retire the super skinny pants that show off your stuff. For spring, show off a new change in trousers. What I’m seeing in high fashion that will eventually trickle down to more mainstream venues is wider leg pants and pleats. One of my favorite collections showing this for spring is Raf Simons who presented a beautiful super wide leg, extremely long pant in crisp white or black. It has so much drape and pleating, it almost looked gathered and wrapped around the body and waist. He even showed it with sleeveless shirts and vests to almost give a summer suit effect.

Overly styled hair is a don’t for me. We’re not living in a pageant, no one is perfect, and sometimes minor imperfections are your best strengths.

Buy clean underwear. Union Jack is a great place for a large selection in any cut and color. Women change their bras continuously, so men should change their underpants regularly in terms of styles — make sure the style goes with your outfit by not giving you panty lines. That means sometimes you have to change the style of the underwear to go with the style and cut of the pants you’re wearing. There’s nothing worse than a man in ill-fitting undies. My mother always told me, to make sure you always have on clean underwear before you go out just in case there was an accident and you have to go to the hospital. Words to live by!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Drawing Dallas

Just in time for Halloween, fashionista Davidré Stefond gives us naughty thoughts

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Hot, hot, hot!

Name and age: Davidré Stefond, 18

Occupation: Fashion marketing student

Spotted: Cedar Hill

The devil makes him do it: A French Gemini, Davidré Stefond walks to the beat of his own distinctive drum. Ever the trendsetter, Davidré has his own unique sense of style, and was known in school as “the kid who could dress.” Active in his business college, this trendsetter plays forward for his school’s soccer team, is an avid volleyball player, and practices Tae kwon do. His love of acting has inspired him to pursue a career as a professional actor, and he hopes to play difficult dramatic roles.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas