December 16, 2012

As a professional singer and songwriter, Zoe Jackson-Jarra makes a point to  never wear the same thing twice. It's her unwritten dress code; her unique  statement about style, music and vintage fashion.

"Part of the entertainment value is to give the audience something new,  whether it's re-mixing or rearranging a song or having a different look," she  said. "I want create a surprise every time they come to see me. "

Vintage clothing allows Jackson-Jarra the freedom to change her looks onstage  and off. "It's all about investment pieces," she said.

For nearly 25 years, she has been collecting vintage apparel and accessories.  She also owns and operates Fashion Plate, a vintage clothing store on Montrose,  in addition to performing and managing the careers of other musical artists,  models and fashion designers.

Jackson-Jarra said she wanted the Montrose store to feel like her giant  closet.

It's overflowing with finds from Houston and cities across the country, but  small towns often have the best treasures, she explained, wearing a top by  Houston designer Selven O'Keef Jarmon and Seven for All Mankind jeans, along  with one of her signature vintage hats.

On one wall of the store hangs an Esther Wolf sequined dress with an empire  waist (1960s); a butterfly belt from the 1980s and a metal 1930s purse are  showcased on a nearby counter. There are classic Prada and Gucci men's bow-ties,  as well as racks of cocktail dresses by such classic designers as Yves Saint  Laurent and Oscar de la Renta.

"Being around small towns, like Port Arthur, you tend to find the antique  pieces at such a great value. It's quite phenomenal."

She named the store Fashion Plate as a tribute to her Port Arthur roots. It's  a term she heard often as a child used by the stylish ladies of her community.

Mayra Beltran, Staff © 2012 Houston Chronicle

Zoe Jackson-Jarra, a singer, song-writer, and owner of  Montrose vintage clothing store called Fashion Plate, is photographed in her  store on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, in Houston.  ( Mayra Beltran / Houston Chronicle  )

Jackson-Jarra said she also learned about style and music growing up in a  blended family of 11, with a father who also sang country music. Her first  vintage find was a chest set made of ebony and  ivory, but not knowing its  value, she later sold it for little to nothing.

Now, she continues to share her knowledge about vintage fashion with her  daughters, Ciera Rogers, 25, a Los Angeles fashion stylist who operates the  store's e-commerce site (cierarogers.com) and Christina Rogers, 24, an author  and songwriter. Jackson-Jarra's husband, Sulayman Jarra, is an art dealer and  collector and owns the African Art Center, 4503 Montrose.

"I'm so inspired by so much, especially art," she said. "We're all drawn to  certain things. Sometimes, it's about that one piece."

As for her one signature piece, she has a few: capes, sheer gloves, watches  and, especially, hats.

"I love Turner Classic Movies; all the leading ladies wore hats," she said.

joy.sewing@chron.com

Mayra Beltran, Staff © 2012 Houston Chronicle

Zoe Jackson-Jarra, a singer, song-writer, and owner of  Montrose vintage clothing store called Fashion Plate, holds a vintage dress from  her collection on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, in Houston.  ( Mayra Beltran / Houston  Chronicle )