Fashion Drive-by: Watts-Hillandale

The Clarion Content was delighted with the response to our first Fashion Drive-by. Perhaps you heard about it? If not, check it out! We love(d) Lakewood.

Up next Watts-Hillandale! Here is the lowdown on how it works. The Clarion Content partners with local businesses, clothiers, boutiques, salons and others to help share their wares and tell their stories. We supply the models, the staging and coordination, as well as the fabulous photographer. Durham provides the setting.

So here goes…


Watts-Hillandale is among Durham’s most famous old neighborhoods. The neighborhood was originally built to surround Watts Hospital, which is now the North Carolina School of Science and Math. (We would like to thank Open Durham, a highly interlinked archive/inventory of information about people places, and history of Durham for providing a treasure trove of old photos and detailed history. Click through on the links for additional back story.)

Our fashion partners for these photos, to whom we are very grateful, and we literally could not have done the shoot without, were Vaguely Reminiscent who provided all of the accessories pictured, and Runaway Clothes, a new Southern lifestyle clothing brand with a hip urban feel.

Vaguely Reminiscent is located at #728 9th Street, just down the block and around the corner from the Clarion Content offices. They are a favorite of numerous local fashionistas and hipsters in our circle. In all the ensembles the accessories shown on the models are pieces from this amazing store, where creative and reasonably priced jewelry finds aplenty are mixed amidst unique gifts, fabulous stationary and cards, Durham commemoratives and other styling stuff, including– in true Durhamanian style –shirts and toboggans from Runaway Clothes.

Runaway, our other partner, is the brainchild of Gabriel Eng-Goetz. Mr. Eng-Goetz is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in illustration. He is also a Durham native who attended Jordan High School. After college Eng-Goetz initially explored his art through painting and landed several gallery shows. But he felt some of his core supporters were being cut out of the loop, high price points for his art work deterred his most loyal, but young and less than affluent fans. This is part of why he made the move to clothing. As he told the Clarion Content in a September interview, “A t-shirt is a piece of art, but it also goes to a bigger audience,” he said. “It’s more interesting sometimes to show your art on a different level, in a different way.”

Runaway has launched its terrific new winter line. There is much to check out here.

Cady Childs, the Clarion Content’s Pop Culture, Durham, Art and Style columnist, was both the stylist and the fashion coordinator for this shoot. Jessi Blakely of Tamara Lackey Photography took all of the amazing photos. Cady Childs and Jessi Blakely collaborated on layout and design of this piece with the Clarion Content staff. Special thanks to our outstanding, hard-working models, Jonathan LaSuer of local music phenoms LiLa1, Jen Phelan from one of our favorite local watering holes, Dain’s Place2 and Gabriel Eng-Goetz of Runaway Clothes.

Also our special thanks and gratitude to all of the local business owners and Watts-Hillandale neighborhood residents who patiently let us photograph in and around their homes and in some cases let us photograph them. Thank you to one and all who contributed.


These photos were taken at three locations in historic Watts-Hillandale. First, Oval Park, which is wedged between Oakland Avenue and Oval Park Drive, these shots were captured on the south side of Club Boulevard. Save for the bottom right hand corner, which was shot at our second location, the famous bathtub house at #2003 West Club Boulevard.

Location #1: Oval Park
Club Boulevard and Oakland Avenue

Nuevo Durhamanians may not look at Oval Park and know. Oval Park as it is today is a sculpted beauty, with packs of moms pushing strollers, and kids running every which way. It hosts food trucks on Thursdays, a fabulous Fourth of July Festival, a kid-friendly Halloween and plethora of other neighborhood events.

Once again, Open Durham is instructive. You know our mantra at the Clarion Content, “Durham could not be what it is, without having been what is was.” Watt-Hillandale is a neighborhood that was bravely and actively preserved through Durham’s down years, but even here, there is a was, and there is an is. These amazing photos courtesy of the Herald Sun and Endangered Durham show Oval Park as it was.

It is because of those who helped make it what it is now that the Clarion Content was able to collaborate with fellow Durham culture movers, Vaguely Reminiscent and Runaway Clothes to make these beautiful photos in that same Oval Park.

As we said, the second location we shot at on this gorgeous Fall day was Club Boulevard’s famous bathtub house. Where in typical Durham style, one of the renters rolled up on her bicycle as we were sprawled out in her front lawn’s bathtubs, photographer, lights, stylists, extra hands on deck—cast and crew, with no more permission than we told the neighborhood association we would be shooting in Watt-Hillandale, and she shrugged with aplomb and said in so many words, “Cool.”

And, Durham? How cool is that? Photoshoot on your front lawn? No problem. Let’s rock.

This second location provided a fabulous set-up for Dain’s famous proprietor bartender, Jen Phelan. The Clarion Content team, Cady Childs and Jessi Blakely, nailed it. Jen is shown wearing Vaguely Reminiscent’s accessories and Runaway’s shirts and toboggans. Now we are cheating a bit here, because the middle shot is from our third location, up the block from Oval Park on Oakland Avenue.

Location #2: The Bathtub House
#2003 West Club Boulevard

This third location, though not as historically notable, perhaps, as the first two places we shot was just as Durham: Warm and welcoming. Simply knocking on the door of the house with coolest decorations on the block gained us two young partners in photography and fashion. As in our first Fashion Drive-by of Lakewood, there are many more shots than seen here. Keep your eyes on this space in the coming weeks to see our youngest partners, as well as, lots more photos of Vaguely Reminiscent’s fabulous accessories and Runaway’s fashions on your local bartenders and resident rock and rollers.

In this panel, Jen Phelan and Gabriel Eng-Goetz are seen first at #2003 West Club Boulevard, then on Oakland Avenue amidst the Fall colors beneath the delicately constructed Halloween decorations.

Location #3: Oakland Avenue
the 1000 block of Oakland Avenue

Up next, Fashion Drive-by fans, all the extra photos and background from this Watts-Hillandale adventure. Then our next shoot!!! Amazing Durham eateries and night spots host ladies in fabulous evening wear.

1LiLa is a local Durham music phenomenon that straddles the ever shrinking gap between hip-hop and blue grass, carving out an appealing new territory that one might call hip folk grass. It is an explosive wave of energy that must be absorbed live and in-person.

2Dain’s Place is a famous local watering hole, with a top-notch have it topped your way burger, conveniently located on the 9th Street strip, down the block and round the corner from our offices.

Clarion Content

Clarion Content is a Durham-based online magazine that curates and creates the thriving culture that gives our city its identity. Our community building is only as strong as our collective contributions. Our team of curators welcomes your comments, suggestions, and concerns. We are open to all points of view, especially those that challenge and therefore stimulate our own. We also encourage reader submitted material as well as guest columnists. See something cool, outrageous, outlandish, or important? Have a great cause? Send us a note or stop by our offices at the Mothership, 401 West Geer Street inside the MotorCo complex.

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