No Macaroni Art Here

Dawn Bell's Houston Fashion Camp is sew much fun for aspiring young designers

Dawn Bell's Houston Fashion Camp is sew much fun for aspiring young designers

Fashion Camp, model,  June 2012
On the last day of fashion camp, participants took part in a photo shoot featuring their interpretation of the Chanel brand. Photo by Zoe Herring
Fashion Camp, students, June 2012
This year's participants gather for a group photo. Photo by Zoe Herring
Fashion Camp, sketches, June 2012
Part of the fashion camp experience includes sketching designs. Photo by Zoe Herring
Dawn Bell Fashion Camp
Seventeen Magazine threw its support behind Dawn Bell's Houston Fashion camp. Courtesy of Houston Fashion Camp
News_Heather_Dawn Bell_Jan 2012
Dawn Bell, creator of Houston Fashion Camp.
Dawn Bell Fashion Camp
Campers put their sewing skills to the test, making a tunic. Courtesy of Houston Fashion Camp
Fashion Camp, model,  June 2012
Fashion Camp, students, June 2012
Fashion Camp, sketches, June 2012
Dawn Bell Fashion Camp
News_Heather_Dawn Bell_Jan 2012
Dawn Bell Fashion Camp

Stylist Dawn Bell has cultivated quite the reputation as a vintage expert, but before you think she’s stuck in the past, consider her take on kids' summer camp. Mood boards, sewing garments, hat construction and a full-blown fashion show are among the campers' daily activities at Fashion Camp Houston and, with a potential second session planned for July, this is a summer activity adults wish they could attend, too.

Bell started the fashion camp last summer after surveying the Houston camp scene and finding nothing like it here. New York is home to programs like Camp Fashion Design and Bell decided aspiring Houston designers deserved a camp of their own. A collaboration with Seventeen Magazine strengthened her 2012 program that much more.

 New York is home to programs like Camp Fashion Design and Bell decided aspiring Houston designers deserved a camp of their own. 

 “I just kept thinking how much fun it would have been for me to have something like this when I was this age,” Bell says.

The first year Bell held fashion camp in her warehouse stocked with her vintage collection, but the lack of air conditioning and a burgeoning roster led her to look for a new space. This year, campers convened at Spring Street Studios to hear local fashion experts, sketch and design clothing and take part in fashion photo shoots.

Every camp, which is open to ages 12-18, also includes a trip to a successful Houston’s designers studio. Last year, campers field-tripped to David Peck's warehouse studio and this year the group visited Chloe Dao's studio. 
 
Living in Houston off and on since 1994 before it became her permanent home in 2005, Bell judiciously tapped the contacts she cultivated over the years working in and supporting the local fashion community,  combining it with her experience as a stylist for local and national publications and fashion shows. The result is an interactive and informative experience for kids influenced by shows such as Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model.

“We have so many wonderful resources here in Houston and so much great talent. Everybody has been 100 percent supportive and the feedback from the kids has been great,” Bell says.

 The response has been so strong that Bell has tentatively scheduled a second session this month and is also planning a trip to New York Aug. 10-15 if there is enough interest.

 In fact, the response was so strong that Bell has tentatively scheduled a second session this month and is also planning a trip to New York Aug. 10-15 if there is enough interest. Highlights of the New York field trip includes visiting the The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, a tour of the Fashion Institute of Technology and other fashion-industry related excursions. The trip includes transportation and accommodations at The Alex Hotel for $1,795.

As fashion camp continues to evolve, Bell wants to focus on window merchandising and set design for fashion shows and hold more intense camps for advanced students handy on a sewing machine and sketch book. She is also planning camps next year for students age 6 to 11 and she stresses, everybody is welcome, including boys.

She also stresses creativity and team work, since becoming a successful member of the fashion community doesn’t happen like in the movies. One of the camper’s first challenges was to divide into teams and reimagine the Chanel brand for 2012.

Another day, the girls got a lesson in millinery from Violet Peacock designer Lindsay Halpin, who brought in a rainbow of fabrics and feathers and instructed them on how to make a fascinator. The results were wearable and inventive and the reason why Bell started camp in the first place.

“I watch them make their inspiration boards and make things and they start learning things about themselves. This is just so exciting for me,” Bell says.

For information about Fashion Camp Houston, contact dawnbell@fashioncamphouston.com or call 713-459-9210.