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Queer Eye for the Antiques Guy

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Carson Kressley visits Round Top for Designer Dream Spree.

By Marene Gustin

There are lots of things to be excited about in September—including slightly cooler weather. But Houstonians also know that September is the time to shop the antiques shows in Round Top.

One of this year’s biggest shows will be at The Compound, a 57-acre venue that hosts special events year-round. The Compound’s weeks-long Antique Show, now in its fifth year, draws visitors from across the country and dozens of sellers who set up temporary shops.

“The show barns have open doors and chandeliers,” says show director Kathy Johnston. “They were all built for special events, and they’re beautiful.”

This year’s Antique Show will feature pop-up dinners from Houston restaurateurs Armando Palacios and Lee Ellis. But the big draw will be a Designer Dream Spree on September 27, put on by Houston interior designer Julie Dodson.

Panelists this year are Kathryn M. Ireland, Beth Webb, Houston’s Aaron Rambo, and Carson Kressley. Kressley, who will also do a book-signing and fashion show, is the fabulous fashion stylist from Bravo’s Emmy Award-winning Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. He later went on to host Carson-Nation, How to Look Good Naked, and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

But as they say on late-night TV, there’s more. Kressley is a best-selling author, raises money for AIDS charities and the Human Rights Campaign, and is a board member for Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund. In his spare time, he shows his world-champion American Saddlebred horses.

Kressley tells OutSmart that he’s looking forward to his trip to Round Top. “I happen to adore Texas,” he says. “I worked for Ralph Lauren for years and often visited on business trips to work with Neiman Marcus in Dallas and Foley’s in Houston. We even taped a special group of episodes of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in Dallas, Plano, and Fort Worth.”

What is he most looking forward to? “I have heard about the great antiquing and treasure hunting in the Hill Country,” he says. “I live for the thrill of the hunt, and I have always wanted to visit this market. I absolutely cannot wait.”

Kressley also offered some impromptu design and fashion advice. “A lot of people wouldn’t believe me, but I’m a bit of a classicist,” he says. “I love all things Tom Ford, Gucci, and Ralph Lauren. The same translates to my taste in interiors. I keep it classic, with an emphasis on quality and good taste—and then of course I give it my own twist with interesting accessories or artwork.”

Kressley has a Park Avenue apartment that he describes as “classic New York,” with a sunken living room, French doors, and a terrace featuring a view of the Chrysler Building. “Along with the mirrored furniture and leopard rugs, I have a lot of equestrian pieces that create a look I like to call Kentucky Regency,” he says.

When it comes to choosing a style, Kressley advises that people should be true to themselves. “No one is better at it than you,” he says.

On September 27, Kressley will sign copies of his latest book, Does This Book Make My Butt Look Big? “It’s a cheeky (pun intended) guide to finding your own personal style and feeling sexier in your own skin,” he says. “It’s really about taking the stress out of getting dressed in the morning and demystifying putting great looks together that put you in your best light. It’s also pretty comedic, if I do say so myself, because getting dressed is supposed to be fun.”

Kressley is certainly having fun these days with all of his projects, which you can follow at CarsonKressley.com. Or you can also catch him on the show-horse circuit. “Horses have always been my first love, and they continue to be one of the greatest joys in my life,” he says. “I think I have seven American Saddlebred horses now. But sometimes I forget one or two. I still compete, and I was at the World Championship Horse Show in Louisville, Kentucky, in August.”

Those who wonder about Kressley’s horse obsession might want to do some research on American Saddlebreds. “[The Saddlebred] carries himself with an attitude that is elusive of description—some call it class, presence, quality, style, or charm,” according to the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF). “This superior air distinguishes his every movement.”

Oh, and the riders compete in top hats and tails. It’s definitely the most stylish of horse shows.

Antique Show at The Compound
September 16–30
RoundTopCompound.com

This article appears in the September 2017 edition of OutSmart Magazine. 

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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