The day before Mystic Stylez’s much-anticipated New Year’s Eve celebration Second Coming, I had the opportunity to sit down local fashion designer André Redou, known for crafting avant-garde and boundary-pushing creations, to chat with him about a new collection he would be showing at the party. Redou grew up in eastern Houston, and that’s where the now-underground scene staple first started dreaming of becoming a… professional athlete.
André Redou: I thought I was going to the NBA. You couldn’t have told me that I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete. Then, around my junior year of high school, something just clicked. I quit everything. The coach flipped and called my mom. He told her that I was on drugs and ruining my life, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. Then, I bought a sewing machine and was instantly good at it. I guess it was a gift.
Byline Houston: So, you taught yourself how to sew?
Redou: I did! From there I applied to Central Saint Martins in London. I got accepted, but didn’t go.
Byline Houston: Why did you decide not to go?
Redou: Anxiety, self-doubt. I thought I couldn’t do it. But I ended up going to Parsons in New York. I was there for four years. It was great! Tim Gunn was actually my teacher.
Byline Houston: That’s amazing! Studying at Parsons in New York is not a small feat! I have to ask, what made you come back to Houston?
Redou: It got old very fast. I think that when you are from Houston, all you want to do is get out — until you actually do, and you realize how special Houston is.
Byline Houston: That’s so refreshing to hear. Your love for Houston actually makes me think about your work, which, in my opinion, has Houston written all over it. The materials that you use not only remind me of the never-ending construction in this city, but also our hurricanes and bayous. Especially after our most recent Hurricane Harvey, when I look at your work, the image of various wastes floating down the fast currents of our bayous replays constantly. Is that intentional or am I just crazy?
Redou: I am so glad to hear you say that. You are so spot on, it’s uncanny! When I came back from New York, it was a different Houston from when I left. There were so many more people and traffic was absolutely everywhere. Every place I went, there was sewage green and orange. Those colors were implanted into my memory.
Byline Houston: Some materials used in your new collection are so rigid and plastic-like while others, like the chicken wire, are still very solid but vulnerable. Could you tell me about that choice of contrast?
Redou: It started with this image in my head of a dark purple flower blooming inside of a fence. Visually, I just gravitated toward that and it grew from there.
Byline Houston: While we are speaking about your work, can you tell me about this new collection that will be presented at Second Coming?
Redou: It’s titled “Primordial Soup.” It’s about the creation of earth, starting with the heavy bombardment period to lava being everywhere, to igneous rock, to fertilized soil, plant life germinating, creating oxygen and water… all the way to the point of modern day, where we forget that beautiful process, as if the earth owes us something.
Byline Houston: That’s so beautiful. What inspired you to handle this subject matter?
Redou: I think it’s just my aesthetic. Ugh, I hate that word, but in general, that’s just how I naturally feel and think. It’s us, and then nature. We are not all one organism. I don’t think people realize that until astronauts go into space and see it for themselves. There’s a shift that happens…i t’s literally called “a shift.” That’s when you realize that it’s just us.
Byline Houston: Can you describe to me how this show will be set up?
Redou: Each of the six balconies will be a space of their own, almost like a set. In each set will be a “phase” of the Primordial Soup. Some things will be suspended — I have an inflatable outfit too!
Byline Houston: With this being THE 2019 New Years Eve event of Houston, what are your 2019 goals?
Redou: Honestly, this year I want to be more social. I have a goal to have a larger online presence. I recently quit my job, so I see big things happening this year with my work!
André Redou DELIVERED his work at Second Coming without disappointment, and the beautifully haunting visuals of “Primordial Soup” will be in my memories for the rest of 2019. We should all be keeping an eye out for what André Redou will be creating in 2019 and beyond! Something tells me it’s going to be a big year for this scene-pushing designer.