Archive - December 2013

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Fashion Houston Day 3
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Fashion Houston- Day 2
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Fashion Houston- Day 1

Fashion Houston Day 3

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!

Fashion Houston- Day 2

Fashion Houston day two brought upon a new era of anticipation as the night starred a number of well-known New York designers. The evening’s line-up was Bibhu Mohapatra, Rebecca Taylor, Chris Knott for Peter Millar, Yigal Azrouel and Nicole Miller.

The first designer that showed when the lights went down was fashion and costume designer Bibhu Mohapatra. Indian-American Bibhu has always had a knack for fashion from an early age. He started out by designing clothing for his sister. After moving to New York City, he enrolled in FIT. During that time, he won the Critic’s Award for Best Evening Wear Designer during his senior year, which launched his fashion career to the next level. He has worked for Halston and J. Mendel before he transitioned to launch his namesake label in 2009. Since his launch, Bibhu strives to focus on “designing clothing with quality, craftsmanship, luxurious integrity and a life of beyond one season.” His love of lavish Indian fabrics, vivid colors and the crafts of his beloved native India are what draws most of his inspiration for his collections. While his Spring/Summer 2014 collection he showcased during Fashion Houston was influenced by the freedom, grace and beauty of modern dance, whereas the floral pieces showed a nod to have been influenced by the bright orange red Butea Monosperma (or Indian Palash) flower. The flower signifies a notion that Spring is coming and boy was Spring alive in the collection (and even the on the two projection screens between the runway)! Billowy dresses in Palash and geometric cut-out prints danced effortlessly down the runway. If that wasn’t enough eye-candy; tops, dresses and pants that were embellished with 3-D flowers were paired with their chic, crisp white reciprocals. Thank you Mr. Mohapatra for bringing a little bit of New York panache dressed with some Indian flair to the city of Houston.

For the next showcase, we switched gears a little towards a contemporary ready-to-wear collection of New York City designer Rebecca Taylor. In the beginning (circa the 90s) she, along with business partner Beth Bugdaycay started the brand under humble practices, such as going the sales, packing and shipping themselves. Both women are very grateful on how far they have come. Rebecca is well-known as a master of layering delicate dresses and skirts with textured and knit tops. For her Spring 2014 collection, she looked towards Cecil Beaton photographs from India, 90s rap style, American work wear, floral lithographs and a quote in a film about Impressionist painter- Renoir. The quote is paraphrased (since it was originally in French) as, “There is so much ugly in the world, why not make something beautiful?” Rebecca indeed made the world a bit more beautiful that evening as layered sporty yet very downtown chic looks breezed down the runway. The sporty looks also easily flowed into the last part of the collection, which featured pretty frocks and separates with ethereal Impressionist-style floral prints.

Cut25 by Yigal Azrouel was among the myriad of well-known New York City designers to present their collections during Fashion Houston. The talented Israeli born designer launched his namesake brand in 1998 and gained rave reviews for his womens ready-to-wear collections. He is now known for his impeccable construction, lux fabrications and cutting-edge designs. He recently debuted his latest line- Cut25 back in 2010. Cut25 is Yigal’s more contemporary line that associates high fashion with the simplicity of everyday wear. The line offers a youthful, feminine yet edgy appeal that marries exclusive fabrics and body-conscious contours. The Spring 2014 collection that was viewed was very streamlined and simple. There was ample black and white contrasting, moto jackets and vests, Baroque prints, body-con dresses, leather leggings and asymmetrical hemlines.

Chris Knott brought preppy menswear to Houston through his company- Peter Millar. Knott founded the brand in 2001 and created the name “Peter Millar” based on an inscription from an antique lawn bowling ball his Mother had given to him. He felt the bowling ball was from an era when people cared passionately about the impression they were actualizing in their daily lives. It is because of this, that Knott instills careful attention to detail, luxurious fabrics and superb craftsmanship in all his golf and lifestyle wear. We witnessed his Spring 2014 menswear collection that evening, which consisted of classic yet modern mens separates, which were seemingly inspired by Hamptons-meets-Southern charm. Colors were mixed. Solids and pastels popped against stripes and plaids. The classic mens suit was given a new modernized yet handsomely tailored twist. Kudos to Mr. Knott for giving men everywhere a chance to golf and paint the town red in style.

The last designer to show that evening was another well-known NYC designer- Nicole Miller. Growing up, Nicole studied at Rhode Island School of Design and had “intense” training for a year at L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, where she trained in fabric manipulation, drape and the art of haute couture. She launched her company with business partner- Bud Konheim in 1982. Since then, her designs are focused on either black or brightly colored form-flattering dresses and very uptown separates with a hint of edginess. She pays strict attention to the cut of the garment, such as: necklines, proportions and curves. Miller’s Spring 2014 collection titled “Rebels with a Cause” was set against a digital floral backdrop with the beat of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” blaring throughout the venue. Her signature form-fitting dresses were the stars of the show, with floral prints and body contouring lines. We also saw florals and solids in an elaborate patchwork motif. Florals were tastefully mixed with stripes and popped against neutral solids.

Miller’s show was the perfect ending to the second day of Fashion Houston.

Fashion Houston- Day 1

Downtown Houston’s Wortham Center became the hub of the Houston fashion industry’s four day fashion extravaganza, known as Fashion Houston. Fashion Houston was launched in October 2010 by Jared Lang, in hopes to bridge Houston as one of the pivotal fashion cities of the the world. He points out that Fashion Houston caters more to the consumers than the buyers, which helps to set Houston apart from other fashion weeks around the world.

This year, Fashion Houston brought on board seventy-two designers, both local and international. The runway shows were sold out every night and each show provided their own unique flavor to the Houstonians in the audience. This year, Neal Hamil (of the Neal Hamil Agency) was the ever-so-charming and witty emcee. The first night consisted of six designers: Marios Schwab, Catherine Deane, Amir Taghi, Viet Nguyen, Jo’se Reyes and Talbot Runhof.

London-based Marios Schwab was the first designer to present his Spring/Summer 2014 collection to us. Schwab officially launched his own brand in 2005, after having quite an extensive background in fashion design training (including the prestigious Central Saint Martins). Schwab’s collection is called, ‘Contours’ and featured body-con dresses with minimalist airbrushed lines that seemed to mimick the female form. We also saw crisply tailored white separates that were paired together with fun dark brown (and brown sequined) lattice panel patterned counterparts. If some of the garments were looked at from a more closer angle, you can see that some of the detailing on some of the pieces are fastened with staples. His entire collection basically played homage to the female form, in tasteful representation. My favorite pieces were the lattice panel patterned pieces and the sheer gowns with contouring lines and styled with gold sequin skirts. These dresses were casually accessorized with chic backpacks and Grecian sandals that were in collaboration with Greek sandal makers- Pantelis Melissinos and his Father, the ‘Poet Sandal Maker.’ The contemporary sandal collection was inspired by the artistic nature of the family-owned business (and the celebrities who have worn them, like Jackie O and Sophia Loren). If you are looking for something that will enhance your curves, then look no further than Marios Schwab!

There was another fellow Brit involved in Fashion Houston- luxury womens wear designer Catherine Deane. After relaunching in 2008, Catherine’s esthetic ensured flowy fine fabrics that draped flatteringly around the female form. All this resulted in the creation of stunning and wearable gowns and separates. In 2012, she refocused her brand on full-length evening and cocktail gowns that soon gained recognition among the ranks of Lanvin, Gucci and Celine (but at a more affordable price point). Throughout her design career, Catherine has been inspired by the cultural references she from took from her nomadic lifestyle {having been born in Ireland, raised and educated in South Africa before moving on to London} and her passion of long forgotten craft techniques. “My work is a very personal expression of my observation of nature and beauty, my exploration of culture, people and places, and a strong faith in an extraordinary outcome. I use the craft techniques as my starting point and develop in an organic process of layering and sometimes taking away until I find I have reached a balance in each piece.” Also in 2012, Deane was appointed Ambassador over at the Unlimited Child. For every dress (starting with her Autumn/Winter 2012 collection) sold, the brand will make a donation that is commensurate to a year’s worth of educational toys for one underprivileged child. To this day, the brand wholeheartedly stands by their ambassadorial statement: Beauty. Craft. Exploration. Faith. Benevolence. Catherine’s Resort 2014 was inspired by the return to London and everything the city embodies: culture, history, energy and colors. The color palette of subtle pastel greys, ballet pinks, hints of green, opal diamante embellishments and 3D embroideries are reminiscent of past eras. Some pieces shined in cream and black hues and the pieces that offered significant details like contouring lines in solids and sequins that are what give the collection a feminine edge. This brand is for the bride or gal looking to feel amazing and stand out during her special day or occasion.

This next designer is only SEVENTEEN and he’s already taken Houston by storm. I would like to introduce Amir Taghi. Growing up, Amir was surrounded by a great sense of style. His Grandfather opened up a high-end menswear boutique after emigrating to the US from Iran. The shop specialized in such Italian brands as: Brioni, Versace and Ricci. Amir also credits his mother- Fariba Taghi for having amazing style. This prodigy has always had a knack for fashion. He started designing at the the age of five and then launched his label at fifteen during a private fashion show. He just recently interned at Oscar de la Renta this past July and really got to delve deep into the industry by working closely with the head designers and then met Oscar himself. He can now add ‘showing at Fashion Houston’ to his credentials. His Spring/Summer 2014 collection was inspired by the classic and elegant look of the 50s, only modernized. To set the mood of the modernized 50s gal, he turned to the Japanese Samurai as inspiration. He narrowed it down to their armor, which consisted of many layers of metal. He used that concept as a focal point on the shoulders of his garments. He also had a strong focus on sheer paneling, leather and the color blue as well as its complementary color- orange. Let’s also talk about the models eyelashes, shall we? They were originally designed by Aubrie Layne from Therapy, but were made for the show by Jentry Kelley. I really loved the leather bustier with peplum, the white leather shorts with contrasting black peplum and the navy blue strapless dress with poofy tulle skirt. In the future, Amir wants to transition into sportswear as well. You can find his collection at Tootsies.

This next collection offered incredible fabric manipulation detail that blew my mind. Houston designer Viet Nguyen’s interest in fashion was conceived back in 1999 when he was working as a fabric designer in Vietnam. In 2004, he emigrated to the States, where he took various jobs in the industry and also took classes at Houston Community College. Upon graduating, he has participated in several fashion shows and has won many competitions. Viet’s brand is called VKNfashion, which stands for Viet Kent Nguyen fashion. His collection that was showcased during Fashion Houston was based on TR (Transformational Reconstruction), which is the belief on the basic body and reconstruction into a new look. He used a new technique called “VORTEX,” which was the flower-like 3D detail on most of his pieces. The whole collection was just otherworldly and visually stunning. I adored his use of pastels mixed with bold lines and subtle metallics and sheers. That jacket with structured peplum and the skirts with tapered silhouettes that then flow out at the knees…just gorgeous. “Fashion has become my greatest passion. Every time I see something in nature or in the world of fine art, I immediately ask, ‘How can I translate this in clothing.’ The process of creating fashion is not only my livelihood, but also something that truly makes me happy. Fashion allows me to express myself in ways that words cannot,” stated Nguyen.

Hawaiian native Jo’se Reyes learned all the fine points of sewing from his Mother. Growing up, he explored his artistic side by experimenting with all sorts of creative mediums. He studied Toxicology and Environmental Science at Rice University; but after deciding that toxicology and Environmental Science weren’t his cup-of-tea, he returned to his first love- fashion and enrolled in Houston Community College’s fashion program (he is slated to graduate this month). Upon seeing his collection, I can definitely say that Reyes found his true calling. He did everything (from the sewing to the dyeing of textiles) himself. The collection was inspired by Dior’s ‘New Look’ designs from the 40s and 50s and Marie Antoinette, if she lived in modern times. He focused on 18th century details, such as the tiny cinched waist and accentuated hips and used those primarily in the suits in bold solids (my fave was the green one). He based the black tulle, sheer and handpainted number off of Marie’s mourning clothing (from when she lost two of her children). The gorgeous black lace and leather jacket was based off of Marie’s hunting jacket. One of the fun facts regarding the voluptuous blue gown is that it took Reyes three weeks to get the fabric dyed that lovely shade of blue. Jo’se Reyes, if Marie was alive today, I think she would be proud! To contact Jo’se regarding ordering and such, please email him at jyoseireyes@gmail.com.

The last brand to make an entrance that evening was Munich-based Talbot Runhof. The brand was launched in 2000 by dream team- Johnny Talbot and Adrian Runhof. Tennessee born Talbot started out as an electrical engineer. While on a business trip to Munich, he met Runhof…and the rest is history. Talbot dropped engineering and partnered with Runhof to create the brand that is popular to this day. Talbot is the brains behind the construction and mathematical precision of each piece, whereas Runhof oversees the styling, image and marketing aspects of the brand. The duo presented their Spring/Summer 2014 collection titled “Down with Love” and inspired by Barbra Streisand, when she sang “Down with Love.” They also merged that concept along with the lyrics, music of Harald Arlen, the costumes that were designed by Irene Sharaff and Barbra’s cleopatra eyes. The collection embraced whimsical fabrics (like black and white piano keyboard prints), strong shoulders, flared skirts, hologram foil flower detailing, open backs, embroidered necklines and Barbra’s signature cape silhouette. My favorites from the collection include the dresses with black and white zig-zagging and the dresses, pants and jumpsuit with the piano keyboard print. This collection was a great ending to the first evening of Fashion Houston.

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