Arts / Performing Arts

Houston Fashion Designer Turned Artist Tackles Los Angeles, With Paris Next — Preston Douglas Keeps It Spiritual

An Underground Mashup of Couture and Performance Art

BY Mia De Los Reyes // 12.30.23

In an exclusive for PaperCity, Houston-raised, St. John’s School and University of Houston Honors College alum Preston Douglas is sharing the details of his underground mashup of couture fashion in performance art that went down recently in Los Angeles. Douglas, a Mark Flood protege, is on our watch list for some of the most intriguing talents to follow for 2024. 

With his newest custom couture project, “77Eaven,” Preston Douglas continues to represent the non-religious spiritual themes in fashion and other forms of art.

The Houston-born, Los Angeles-based fashion designer and artist is known for his distinctive projects that combine multifaceted visual art forms including painting, fashion and performance. In his work, Douglas provides a space for his audience to delve into their own version of spiritual understanding. 

The title “77Eaven” (pronounced heaven) derives from an intricate interpretation of the lucky number seven and highlights the spiritual aspect of Douglas’ art. “77Eaven” is comprised of a series of activations meant for select invitees to engage in the experience of mixing different mediums with fashion. The first performance under this project, “Repurposed Religion,” took place in Los Angeles at the avant-garde Creative Technology Center.

"77Eaven"  is a custom couture project by artist Preston Douglas. (Photo by SemiTruck Studios)
“77Eaven”  is a custom couture project by artist Preston Douglas. (Photo by SemiTruck Studios)

“I see ‘Repurposed Religion’ as a communal version of the individualized couture ’77Eaven’ experiences,” Douglas tells PaperCity. “These events are channeled atmospheres of faith through the lens of art, that function in and through the frequency of our collective consciousness.”

Douglas describes “Repurposed Religion” as a spiritual, non-religious, immersive performance centered around dance, sound, fashion and collaboration. Unlike his past fashion shows such as  “Saint John’s” or “Disintegration,” “Repurposed Religion” puts a twist on the typical runway show. Instead of walking in a line, the models — dressed in garments made by “77Eaven” chief design officer Thomas Luke Johnson — perform in a circle surrounded by the audience. 

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“Johnson seamlessly fuses his passion for avant-garde fashion history with an unwavering commitment to detail, in unrelenting quest to unearth the purpose woven into the very essence of the garments we created,” Douglas says.

Produced by Jesse Fox Hallen and choreographed by Jacquleyn Jay Boe, the “Repurposed Religion” performance was set to an eight-song Christian club contemporary album of the same name. The avant-garde album was produced by Luke XO and will be released in January.

"Repurposed Religion"  is a spiritual, non-religious, immersive performance centered around dance, sound, and fashion, and collaboration. (Photo by SemiTruck Studios)
“Repurposed Religion”  is a spiritual, non-religious, immersive performance centered around dance, sound, and fashion, and collaboration. (Photo by SemiTruck Studios)

Milan Fashion Cred

“After working on the Mark Flood x 1017 ALYX 9SM collection in Milan earlier this year, and attending the Givenchy show, I was inspired when I returned to my studio in New York,” Douglas says. “There is such an energy around the performance and inherent humanity of fashion that I’ve been missing in my painting practice and exhibitions.” 

In his endeavors back into the world of fashion, Preston Douglas has expanded his perception of couture, and he hopes to relay this new perspective to anyone involved in these projects. To that effect, Douglas will be offering custom couture outfits, a custom painting and an experiential photoshoot to those invited to participate in the “77Eaven” experience, which this creative has conceived with global ambition. 

“In blending the traditional fashion retail model with the contemporary gallery art sales structure, the individual is immersed in a collaborative world we create together,”Douglas says. 

"Repurposed Religion" staged in L.A. was the performative debut of Preston Douglas' "77Eaven" Collection. (Photo by SemiTruck Studios)
“Repurposed Religion” staged in L.A. was the performative debut of Preston Douglas’ “77Eaven” Collection. (Photo by SemiTruck Studios)

Through the process of becoming a certified addiction recovery coach, Douglas has changed his understanding of what it means to create.

“It shifted my perspective on how to go about creating meaningful change in people’s lives through art,” he says.

After witnessing the beauty of transformation that is only possible through deep reflection and self correction, Douglas wanted to create a project that leads people to their own personal spiritual breakthroughs. The certification process provoked the inspiration behind his approach in the creation of “77Eaven.”

Preston Douglas’ Next Stop

In his reignited appreciation and passion for fashion, Douglas is hopeful for the future expansion of “77Eaven.” The next “Repurposed Religion” performance will take place in late January at the end of Fashion Week in Paris, commemorating his expedition in the fashion world. (The venue hasn’t been revealed yet, but will be soon.)

“Paris has always been the ultimate fashion week, and since I started in fashion almost 10 years ago,” Douglas says. “It only feels right to begin this new phase of my artistic journey there.”

For this activation, Douglas hopes to provide a grander elaboration on garment design, choreograph material and integrate a movement choir.

“These public performances and custom couture experiences can provide a transformative process at an integral time in people’s lives,” he says. “I hope to create spaces and experiences for individuals and audiences through ‘77Eaven’ and ‘Repurposed Religion’ that lead to their personal, spiritual growth.”

Preston Douglas' signature zipper painting, <em>The Tension in Total Surrender</em>,  2022, was exhibited during Dallas Arts Month 2022. (Courtesy the artist)
Preston Douglas’ signature zipper painting, The Tension in Total Surrender,  2022, was exhibited during Dallas Arts Month 2022. (Courtesy the artist)

Catch Preston in Houston

Before Paris, Preston Douglas will be making an appearance back in his hometown.

Douglas will be honored on Monday, January 8 from 6 pm to 8 pm at Houston’s Reeves Art + Design gallery. Plans call for Douglas, who was named Artist of the Year by the Houston nonprofit Art for All Homes, to hold court in a panel discussion with art advisors Lea Weingarten and Kimberly Landa. He will dish about his own collections and offer insights about his practice. Accompanying the panel will be an exhibition of select new works, including Douglas’ sexy zipper paintings.

Learn more about “Repurposed Religion” and how to become involved here. You can also follow Preston Douglas on Instagram to keep track of what’s next.

Additional reporting from Catherine D. Anspon. 

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