An Alice in Wonderland Debut

Going “Down the Rabbit Hole”

Every year, Merchandising Inc. (the fashion organization that is over NuView Magazine) hosts a fashion show on what promotes the zeitgeist of fashion from a collegiate perspective. Every year is different from the next because of the producers’ vision and style captured on campus. This year symbolizes a twisted time for our nation reflected in the desire for a fantasy world. Enter “Down the Rabbit Hole,” an all-student-run fashion show inspired by the combined 2001 and 2010 movie versions of Alice in Wonderland.

The show will take place on Monday, April 24th at 7pm in the UNT union ballroom room 314. Tickets are sold at the door for $5 cash or card. We wouldn’t want you to miss it, but in case you’re several miles away (due to the fact that this is a global site) check back in a week to get the full coverage of both behind the scenes and close-ups during the show. Explore the imagery below to keep you captivated until the day of show!

 

Alice&W1Alice&W2Alice&W3Alice&W4Alice&W5Alice&W6Alice&W7Alice&W8

 

part0

Words by Maia Wilson

Videography by Lauren McMichaels

Photography by Michaela Bull

Styling by Raeleigh Hall

Modeling by Melissa Caskey

Hair by Carolina Gonzalez

Makeup by Taylar Gomez

Graphic Design by Philip Galuban

Mask by Rose Kuo

Advertisements

Self-made, Successful, and Humble: A Rare Breed

A DFW-based wardrobe stylist and fashion show producer shares his story of how he once turned a new dream into a career all own his own and ended up at the top.

1

Willie Johnson is a creative and down-to-earth dreamer who has cultivated himself over the years into becoming one of DFW’s most respected and well-known wardrobe stylists and fashion show producers.

Did you know that you wanted to be a fashion producer and stylist growing up? How did you end up being in the position that you are in today?

No. I didn’t start off wanting to be a fashion producer. I actually used to model and the way I kind of fell behind the scenes is that I use to work for the Kenneth Cole store at North Park and a lady, who still to this day is very essential and important in my life, Lisa Perry, had called the store and asked to speak to me because I had once picked out some shoes for her and gave her wardrobe options. She had asked if I would like to help work a fashion show backstage. At the time, I had never done anything like that before, so I told her yes. So back in 1998, I was twenty three years-old and got bit by the passion that night of the first fashion show I worked at. Literally, as I was backstage I said to myself “this is what I want to do, this is where I want to go”. So that’s kind of how I started, both working in retail and my first show.

Continuing off of that question, after realizing that was what you wanted to do with your life, what career path and stepping stones did you take to get you to where you are today?

It wasn’t easy, I’ll admit it. It was kind of tough. After that first show, I knew what I wanted to do and I dove into it. I stayed at Kenneth Cole because it was a job and I had to market myself. I started trying to connect with professionals, trying to be a part of shows and volunteering myself at events. I began teaching models how to walk and agencies eventually started contacting me to work with their talent. At one point, I ended up working for the same agency that had represented me back when I was younger, but behind-the-scenes. I started learning how to make myself a business by doing things like being on time, making sure I brought clothes back within 24-48 hours, making sure I connected with the right photographers, etc. Truly after a while, I didn’t have to work as much because people started referring me. I started to get referral after referral and that just is how I grew.

After you had established yourself in this industry, what would you say differentiates you from other leaders in the DFW fashion industry?

I started with a “no nonsense policy” and was known to be aggressive and firm. I was friendly, but people knew to bring their A-game when working with me. I also have a mission statement which is “honesty and integrity”. I wanted to be that person that didn’t have the reputation as someone trying to get over on you by “selling a dream”. You’ll get people that will tell you what you want to hear, which is really sad because what you want to hear might not be the truth. I like to tell the truth.

Take us through a day in the life of a Willie Johnson. 

I wake up early, before everybody else gets up. I meditate, pray, and read certain scriptures for encouragement. Then, I sit down to mentally plan my day and write a list of everything I need to get done. I try to get a workout in. From there, I just hit the ground running whether it’s a meeting, or if I have to do a fitting, a runway class, a personal styling consult or anything that my positions requires me to do.

What would you say was a major turning point in your career?

I produced, styled, and co-produced one of the biggest hair and fashion shows in Dallas, The Ascension, which was hosted by Vivica A. Fox about 10 years ago now. That was a really big turning point because I was over a lot of things and it really just made me love what I do. I would say also when I was asked to be the talent director for Pin Show, which is a showcase for independent designers that is one of the largest indie shows in the state and happens every year in February.

What do you wish you would have known back when you were at this age that you had to find out the hard way?

I would highly suggest that every person does internships. I didn’t intern with anyone. I actually had to create my own way and learn the business. An internship teaches you people skills and how to have a good work ethic, especially in this business because a lot of people look at social media and then when they get into this business they realize it’s not what they’ve seen on social media. Social media is fine, but I tell everybody, it goes beyond your Instagram self; you have to be able to talk to people, you have to be able to articulate, you have to have thick skin. Especially being from the South, you can’t go to New York with a Dallas mentality and expect people to smile at you and move slow. You have to move fast.

I see that you’re heavily involved in various philanthropic causes. Could you share which causes inspire you the most and what kind of events you participate in to help these causes?

Well, I support all causes, but the main two that I am very big on are AIDS-related and children’s charities. I just did this event I got back from a few days ago called the “The Fashion Event” in Bryan, Texas where we produced 19 runway shows in 3 days. This event benefited the Mercy Project, which is an organization that helps children who have been kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ghana. So far they’ve rescued 80 children and reunited them back with their parents; that is something that I really care about.

For someone who wants to be in producer/stylist, what do you think is the most important qualities to have?

They have to have people skills, customer service and be a good sales person because you have to convince people to let you borrow their clothes. You have to have patience because you’re dealing with so many people that all have different egos, so you’re normally the calm in the storm. You need to learn how to step outside of yourself and realize that it’s not about you, it’s about the event.

Has there been anyone in your life that has either really inspired you or has been there alongside you while you developed in your career?

Yes, I actually have five people in my life that have been instrumental in my career development. They are Isacc Birdlong, who “planted the seed” for me. When I used to model at a young age, I would do the local fashion shows with him, so I learned a lot from watching him. Lisa and Reggie Perry really opened the door for me after that. Also, Keith and Denise Manoy. Back in 2006, I was in a bad situation where I had lost most of what I had owned and they helped me get back on my feet and get myself started. I give all of those people credit.

 

6

Who would you say has been one of your most influential mentors throughout your career?

Lisa is really the person who started my career of a show producer because she had given me my first start. She planted the seed of being a fashion show producer in me. She really cultivated my career period in everything I did. She cultivated the business side, how to present myself, how to talk to people, everything.

How were you introduced to her?

It was crazy really. Everyone in Dallas knew who Lisa was. She owned 45 Degree Angle, which was an amazing upscale salon that was featured in every major publication across the country. She used to have these beautiful elaborate fashions shows and when I was eighteen I was sitting in the audience and told my friend, “I’m going to work with this lady some day”. Then, five years later she walks into Kenneth Cole. No one introduced me to her, it just happened. I think of it as a “divine connection”. When I went to that first fashion show she had asked me to work at, and five years later God knew it was time for me to meet her.

Getting to know Willie Johnson and listening to his story has been both a pleasure and enlightening. He is a man full of great advice and insight into an industry that he approaches with a different mindset than most other professionals. I believe that because of his deeply embedded passion for what he does and his commitment to always exemplify integrity and honesty with everything he does, truly sets him apart. His authenticity and words of wisdom that he has shared about this industry, his career path and life in general are precious pieces of advice that I know can be of great guidance in some way to any reader.

Feature Image

“I always tell people that I work hard to make it look easy”.

Special thanks to Willie Johnson for allowing NuView to interview him. Follow him on Instagram @williejohnson3 to see his show adventures.

 

Words by Jacqui Simses

Edit by Maia Wilson and Reilly Farris

Images courtesy of Willie Johnson

April

Impossible Possibilities

“Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast” -Alice

tri color

Wow it’s April, seriously wasn’t it just New Year’s last week?! I find it interesting how time transcends not only when we’re having the most fun, but also when we are so busy we don’t have time to watch the clock. It seems as though in this era (dare I say the word millennial), we have gotten so invested in making a living for ourselves that all we seem to do is brainstorm new ways we can work. We may work a lot and be so immersed in the future of our career, but it all comes from passion. Our passion is what pushes us to take new steps, small or large into the unknown in order to reach our destination.

In this Month’s issue, the final one of the year I hate to say, we fixate on reaching what may have seemed incapable, but has now been achieved. We look to people a little more mature than us to unravel how they have become the fascinating individual they are now. Some defied the industry by breaking through in a form of media that was recently emerging, some stuck to what they know best and continued on in their destined path, and others found their truest passion where others doubted them and strived their way to the top of their field. Each person we have come in contact with this month we expose them to you, so that you might find them as delightfully inspiring as we do.

As Merchandising Inc’s annual fashion show is right around the corner on April 24th, the show’s title, Down The Rabbit Hole conveys a meaning of twists and turns to reach a bottom where some might think is rock bottom, but to one individual, and multiple who share the same the same mindset is rather a place of wonder. The show is inspired by the obvious Alice in Wonderland film, most recently debuted in 2010 and the sequel in late 2016. In both movies, Alice is informed that it is possible to believe impossible things “sometimes [she] believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast (quoted from the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie).” As we cover the show from preview to behind the scenes to final product, we too will believe that things that are deemed too difficult of a task or impractical of a position are ones we need to believe in and devote to. The articles that will be presented on the site this month will prove that sometimes (and quite often) the impossible is rightfully so, possible.

I would like to end by saying it has been a challenging reward to compose these stories we have shared on NuView this year. Every individual who was involved in this process, from the subjects we interviewed to the artists’ work we utilized- every one has made NuView that much more a place for our readers to go for inspiration, uncovered knowledge, and sometimes the hard, honest truth. I am very proud of the work that each member of the magazine has put in this year and quite honestly, amazed by their creativity and humbleness. They are the beings who’ve replaced a daunting, yet exciting project into an accomplished one- which reminds us to not quit on the impossible.

Enjoy the last issue,

signature-crop

Words by Maia Wilson

Illustration by Kristen Barnhart

Discover her work at kristenbarnhart.com, buy her work at Etsy.com/shop/kbillustration, and follow her on instagram @kb.illustrations