There is the Trump Russia probe, and there is global warming. North Carolina is still drying out. There is the Kavanaugh craziness. The Catholic catastrophe. Facebook is tipping into what could turn out to be a free-fall. There is, in short, so much going on that it’s hard to focus on other things that might be important, like what to wear to the next debate between Beto O’Rourke and Senator Ted Cruz. Even if you can’t make it to the University of Houston this Sunday, or to San Antonio on October 16th, the proliferating number of watch parties seems to demand some kind of fashion statement beyond jewel-toned—blue or red—dresses or neckties.
Enter Houston fashion and costume designer Judy Masliyah, who has made a name for herself with a funky Midtown shop called My Flaming Heart, where, along with talismans, beads, folk art and vintage cowboy boots, she sells her unique brand of couture. These are not clothes you would call gala-ready for, say, the symphony ball in Dallas or Houston. A designer for more than thirty years, Maslyah has mostly been inspired by fifties-era sportswear designs. The bodice-hugging dresses and Western shirts come in fabrics emblazoned with Mexican Day of the Dead themes, Buddhas, Frida Kahlo and, in time for Halloween, spider webs. One irresistible dress has a bust line accented with real artificial roses. And now comes the Beto dress, named in honor of the Democratic nominee and El Paso congressman. Fabrics now are of her own design thanks to technology, which made production of the Beto dress almost as fast and easy as a website donation to the campaign.
Masliyah, who is smallish, dark haired, and ebullient, has gone a little bit streamlined and subdued for her Beto dress, which is made of fabric designed from the Senate hopeful’s bumper sticker reprinted on a body-skimming halter dress with a high white collar. It retails for $185. A Western shirt for men comes in a basic black, with O’Rourke’s name on each shoulder, again, with a nod to the Beto bumper sticker. A steal at $145.
If you are thinking longer term—more women’s marches?—a “Keep your tiny hands off my rights” halter dress is also available.
Like many designers—from Jean Paul Gaultier and to Zara’s “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” jacket worn infamously by Melania Trump—Masliyah doesn’t separate her politics from her art. After Charlottesville, she made a full-length anti-Nazi coat, with swastikas crossed out with the universal “No” circle and slash.
“I had an impeachment window for a long time, and then I switched over to the Beto window,” she says. With such sentiments, it’s not surprising Masliyah hasn’t come up with anything for Ted Cruz supporters. When asked what she might suggest for Heidi Cruz, Maslyah was uncharacteristically restrained. “She might not want to wear anything of mine,” she said.