Jamileh Kamran and Arkansas Fashion School -- the education center founded by the couture designer in 2007 for budding clothing creators -- are on the move.
A Dec. 18 visit to the elegant main space of Kamran's longtime design studio/shop-turned-school on Kavanaugh Boulevard found no boxes piled up yet. Visitors could still seat themselves comfortably, help themselves to holiday candy-bowl offerings, enjoy the tasteful framed wall art, gaze admiringly at the beautiful burgundy-with-gold-trim outfit on the dressmaker's mannequin, see the framed High Profile write-up of Kamran's daughter's featured wedding.
But they could also peruse built-in shelves full of oo-la-la retail fashion accessories, handbags and necklaces and earrings and such, that had been marked down to enticing clearance prices. They could look to the back of the showroom and see shelves of rolled fabric still on display, but behind plastic-wrapped rolls of additional fabric, ready for transportation.
Accessing the school's Kavanaugh classroom involved descending a daunting set of stairs. But no more. The new home for Arkansas Fashion School is all on one level at the Midtown Center, 105 N. Rodney Parham Road at the corner of that road and Markham Street. The new location, which faces Markham, is opposite the Midtown Vintage Market.
"For the whole year I've been looking to have a better home, or school, and more than anything, to have more classrooms," Kamran says. "And then [I wanted to] open a space without stairs, and to make it much more comfortable for students [with] much more equipment -- much more updated equipment.
"Then covid[-19] came and I had to stop," Kamran adds. But she finally found a space with the help of her new landlords, Ann and Steve Leek of Leek Holdings LLC. "They really went beyond to help us out."
On an afternoon several weeks later, Kamran leads a visitor through construction clutter, sawdust and a small team of busy workers at the new facility, whose transformation is being overseen by contractor Doug Story.
The facility is 3,000 square feet, about 600 more than the old space. It will house three state-of-the-art classrooms. The Kavanaugh location allowed only one classroom, so Kamran looks forward to teaching more students in general and in particular, having more students in a classroom at a time.
"For each class we have capacity for eight. ... In one day, we can have 24 there. That's a good improvement. That's a big, big, huge improvement." She also hopes to offer a number of additional courses.
The new space will even include a runway for fashion shows.
"It's going to be a beautiful place outside and inside, and they're working day and night to put us there by end of January," Kamran says.
She hopes to have everything ready by ribbon-cutting day, scheduled for Friday.
"I had planned to put on a big fashion show and our board suggested that it's not time for it in January, because not everybody is vaccinated" for covid-19, she adds. She'll have her graduates put on a show during their ceremony in August, as is tradition.
Meanwhile she and her assistant, Amanda Morley, have been overseeing the move. Students were asked to lend a helping hand, especially with wrapping all that clothing fabric.
Kamran, who spent some 30 years in the Kavanaugh space, wonders how she managed to run a school out of it for 13 years. She admits the place holds a lot of memories, and leaving it tugs at her heartstrings a bit.
"But it is time for us to go to a new chapter for our school."
Arkansas Fashion School offers a 15-course program that teaches students all the skills to begin a fashion career. Students typically finish within two years. The school is is licensed by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and, in 2019, was recognized by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training. For more information, visit
The Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum is taking applications for participation in the latter's Spring 2021 Emerge Designer Cohort. Emerge is "a designer residency program established to ... further develop talent in the area, as well as attract visionaries from other regions to collaborate, train, and learn from the regional creative community."
From March through June, chosen designers will participate in monthly workshop weekends in which they'll learn from industry experts how to help their business grow. They'll also present part of their collection to select mentors for individual collection critiques.
Applications for Arkansas Arts & Fashion Forum's Emerge Designer Cohort are due on Feb. 12. Go to
A FEW QUICK REVIEWS ...
As we've seen by those Zoom meeting accidents we've had, or witnessed on TV shows and commercials, a pandemic is no reason to look scruffy. Here are a few notable fashion-and-beauty enhancers to which I've been introduced.
• Gold costume jewelry pieces by New York designer Julie Vos ... available at gift boutique Powder & Smoke, Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center in Little Rock (powderandsmoke.com). These Valentine's/"Galentine's" Day gift candidates -- earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings, made of 24-karat gold plate over nickel-free brass -- are sleek, rich, exquisite things, some accented with pearls, faceted semiprecious stones and imported glass. Prices in the line fall in the $50-to-mid-$300 range. I added to my wardrobe Vos' 38-inch chain-link necklace with prominent-but-lightweight circular links.
• Also at Powder & Smoke; another gift candidate for the Day of Love -- Snap-on fur cuffs by Dana Stein. Whether eggplant-colored raccoon ($135) beige mink ($145) or other colors, a pair of furry cuffs are definitely a way to change/glam up existing upper garments. And hey, if they match those fur-strap slide sandals of yours ...
• Actsyl-D Active Conditioning Mist, made by the Actsyl-3 hair growth folks. Smelling exactly like Actsyl-3, which I reviewed in an earlier column, it's a "weightless leave-in formula that detangles, smooths and provides heat protection while restoring natural movement, manageability, and shine." Ultraviolet rays? Environmental pollution? Chemicals? Heat treatments? Physical damage caused by combing or brushing? This stuff is billed as fixing it all. It certainly works as a detangler ... so well that some Afro-wearers might worry about their hair being a little too soft and pliable. But I like it. Actsyl-D is $17.99 at actsyl.com.
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