Denton’s coolest music festival, Oaktopia, returns to Downtown Denton (206 East Oak St.) next week for three days, Thursday, Sept. 22 through Saturday, Sept. 24. Last year the festival was voted “Best Festival” by Dallas Observer and celebrates the vibrant culture of Denton through music, art and fashion. Hosted at multiple venues surrounding Downtown Denton’s Courthouse, with main stage acts performing in the Travelstead backyard, the festival is taking a fashionable turn this year and adding local designers to its creative offerings.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Ashley Nicole Whitby, the gal in charge of this year’s fashion and art experience.
On the music side, fest organizers have rounded up an impressive lineup of nationally touring acts such as Norah Jones, Beirut, Dr. Dog, Best Coast, Nikki Lane, and a solo set by Cat Power to perform at this year’s event. The local lineup boasts Dallas-Fort Worth up-and-comers such as Jonathan Tyler, 88 Killa, Dark Rooms, Dezi 5, Jessie Frye, Siamese, and -topic and Koolquise.
Inspired by the eclectic fashion sense of Denton dwellers, who love to shop locally and dress funky, Ashley thought adding a fashion element to the fest would be the icing on the cake. We agree. Why not showcase local designers and boutiques? The first fashion show ever at Oaktopia, “The Root,” as Ashley’s calling it has been in progress for months and we can’t wait to see what’s been brewing on-site.
DFW Style Daily: How did you select the designer lineup?
“My goal is to showcase diverse local designers that are relatable and accessible to the audience while providing an entertaining show. The boutiques are all Denton-based and the designers themselves are local to Denton and Dallas. Each has an eclectic take on fashion. You will see vintage clothing, recycled headpieces, edgy menswear, plus-sized designs, and androgynous looks.”
DFW Style Daily: Tell us more about the interactive art and fashion elements at this year’s festival.
“I’m fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented creatives in DFW in the past few years. The Art Director and Experience Assistant, Michael Houlihan, designed the art concept for Oaktopia this year. The concept and color scheme was created to bring a sense of nostalgia and a whimsical playfulness to the show. During the festival the attendees will see giant art installations designed by my brother Matthew Whitby. Eric Trich is the Visual Projectionist [who] is creating visuals for the fashion show. By playing with color, lights, fabric, and projections, Eric will create an environment for the fashion show to thrive in.”
DFW Style Daily: What is your favorite thing about Denton?
“I love the sense of community. Everyone has been encouraging and helpful with this whole process. I feel at home here because I’m constantly surrounded by creative people.”
As designers walk the runway, local dance collective Illusive Movement will perform to live music by over-the-top performer Dezi 5 and deep house beats by DJ Boston Cassidy. “The Root – Alternative Fashion Showcase” presented by Oaktopia will present three days of fashion by local designers De’Vaun Robinson, Sam Morgan, ZAC Designs, Chesley Williams, Deidre Hardin, Sheeek by Bee, and Dika Obiaju along with boutiques Circa 77, Texas Turquoise Boutique and La Di Da. Ashley has also enlisted the help of fashion producer Willie Johnson.
Image 1 courtesy of Ash Gongora. Image 2 courtesy of Jazziz. Image 3 courtesy of Radio UTD.