Day three of Fashion Houston was buzzing with excitement, as two of Houston’s notable local designers were featured on the runway. The line-up for the evening was Rolando Santana, Chloe Dao, David Peck and Yigal Azrouel.
I’d like to begin with the first designer of the evening- Rolando Santana. Rolando was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico and had a love of fashion and design from an early age. He would spend a lot of time watching his Mother create beautiful garments for her clients at her home-based dressmaking shop. He also loved going to the fabric stores, getting lost in the midst of all the unique fabrics. When he was 13, he starting helping his Mother out in her new production factory, which is where he gained better experience with pattern-making, construction and sewing. In 1991, he moved to New York City to further pursue his career in fashion. He studied at Mercy College and FIT, before working for a few fashion houses. In 2009, he was finally able to launch is own namesake brand and focused on designing with his customer in mind. His Spring/Summer 2014 collection was inspired by artist- Frida Kahlo and her strength and confidence. Rolando felt that her eclectic style and her bold way of wearing classic tailored garments were what influenced his collection the most. I felt that Santana’s collection was very fine-tuned and classic. The color palette was mainly soft, though I did see pops of bright yellows pretty florals. The fabrics were rich and crisp (loved the laces and sequins). The flouncy peplums on the pencil skirts, dresses and tops also caught my eye. It was a great collection that I’m sure Ms. Kahlo would be proud of.
Houston has gained a noteworthy designer ever since her winning slot on Project Runway. Chloe Dao realized her love of fashion from an early age. She studied at Houston Community College and then went on to obtain a degree in pattern-making from FIT in New York City. She worked in New York for about eight years, getting her hands dirty in every aspect of the fashion industry. In 2000, she returned to her hometown of Houston, where she opened Lot 8 (now DAO CHLOE DAO) in Rice Village. In 2006, she tried out for Project Runway and won Season 2. Chloe is known for her cocktail and evening wear, so for her Spring 2014, she decided to branch out and try something outside the box. Her inspiration was street fashion- mainly the fun and quirky outfits worn by some of the world’s top editors (like Giovanna Battaglia for instance). Chloe loved how effortlessly put-together and carefree they look while running around from show to show, etc. She worked on building the inspiration for the collection for months and actually put together the collection in only four weeks. She knew it would be a challenge to incorporate street fashion into her aesthetic, but she was up for that challenge. She was also inspired by how the girls would mix prints, so she knew that that would be the focus of the collection. She started out with fifteen prints before finally narrowing it down to four dominant ones. She felt that prints speak to people and wanted the Spring collection to be fun and carefree. The accessories were also a crowd pleaser that evening, think rhinestone-encrusted lizards, giant lips and rings wire-wrapped with an oversize “COOL” slogan. Her favorite accessory was the ‘lips with cigarette’ necklace, which she proudly wore in the finale. She felt that the accessories were unexpected, yet allowed her collection to pop against the vibrant prints and simple silhouettes. I loved everything about the collection and can’t wait until it comes out next year so I can own a few pieces. Be sure to check out ChloeDao.com and add her on all your social media sites to get the latest information.
The next designer also captured a roaring applause from his community- David Peck. David first started on a path towards a career in music. It was while he was working at Ralph Lauren doing their windows, that he realized he was more into fashion design. He then moved to Paris for five years, where during that time, he studied at Parsons and worked for several top fashion houses. In 2008, he moved to New York City, where he co-founded Untitled 11:11, a sustainable and high-end womenswear brand that was favored by celebrities like Taylor Swift and Rose McGowen. In 2010, he moved to Houston (where his wife is originally based) to be closer to family and eventually launched CrOp (Creative Opportunities) by David Peck. His brand is dedicated to socially responsible and local manufacturing, charitable partnerships, job creation and using practices that offer minimal impact on the environment. During his presentation at Fashion Houston, he gave us a taste of the different variations of his brand. The first half of the collection was his Fall/Winter 2013 ready-to-wear. He was inspired by his love of classic cinema, notably three Gregory Peck films- To Kill a Mockingbird, Gentlemens Agreement and Roman Holiday because they have themes of social responsibility or social injustice. The silhouettes are also inspired by the “Hitchcockian Era” of the 50s and 60s. He feels that this Mid-Century vibe is very relevant by today’s standards of timeless fashion. The second half of the collection was a peek into his Spring 2014 collection and custom bridal wear. The Spring 2014 collection was inspired by his taking a “desk vacation” since he’s been quite busy and not much time to travel. He used various objects he found around the office and was able to create prints and such for the collection. My favorite looks were the Mink faux-fur vest (the crop top version that wasn’t shown, though I saw at Tootsies, is on my “want list”), the herringbone exaggerated jacket with ruffle top and pencil skirt suit and the peridot chiffon oversize blouse with peacock handwoven pencil skirt. The finale caused the audience to tear up with joy as not only did David come out for his bow, but he brought out his entire team. He believes that it really takes a team to make the designs happen. He wanted them to experience the fashion show and see how well the community responded to his brand and the impact that it had on the city.
The night ended with Yigal Azrouel presenting his namesake signature Resort and Spring/Summer 2014 collections. He had just presented his other more contemporary line- Cut25, the night before. The collections were very geometric and architectural in design and construction. Once again, he stuck with his two signature and favorite colors- black and white and minimalist silhouettes; although he did add a few splashes of color here and there. We saw body-flattering dresses, moto jackets, slits and zippers. My favorite piece from the collection was the finale dress- a transparent halter dress with geometric structure and a hi-low skirt.
Stay tuned for the final night of Fashion Houston!