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A Moment at Hope Outdoor Gallery
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Fashion Houston Finale: Bling, Menswear, Ocean Blues and Visions of Marfa
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Fashion Houston Night Three: Vintage Renaissance, Melancholy Photography, Mark Rothko and Chloe Dao
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Fashion Houston Night Two: AI Designers, Tribal, Eveningwear and Naeem Khan
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Fashion Houston Begins with Theatrics, LBDs, Flair and Grungy Gentlemen
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Venexiana – NYFW September 2014
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Alon Livne – NYFW September 2014

A Moment at Hope Outdoor Gallery

During a recent overnight trip to Austin, I was able to meet up with one of my blogger/photographer friends and we met up at this ridiculously awesome space. What were once old apartment building foundations, Hope Outdoor Gallery is now a space where graffiti artists and tag and create freely. Thank you Sarah for showing me this amazing place and agreeing to an impromptu mini photo shoot. There is no doubt that I shall return…especially in warmer and sunnier weather.

Thank you Sarah for the photos of me!

I’m wearing the Sheer Willow Pullover Sweater from Willow & Clay, Jeans from Big Star Denim, Heels from Bakers.

Fashion Houston Finale: Bling, Menswear, Ocean Blues and Visions of Marfa

Lebanese designer- Rami Salamoun introduced his collection of luxurious couture evening wear for men and women. Gowns were heavy in beading and sparkle, as were the detailing in the mens suits and tuxedos. The gorgeous gowns basically wore the models, in the fact that there were lines that curved and hugged the body in the right places, while tastefully showing just the right amount of skin. The finale was a man wearing what seemed to be traditional Middle Eastern garb, with the highlight being the large cape, bearing the Lebanese flag, which sparkled under the spotlights.

Miami-based menswear designer Fabrice Tardieu launched his namesake brand in 2013. He is known for blending classic street style with couture structuring. He gathers much of his inspiration through the street style culture of Wynwood Arts District in Miami. That Wynwood flair showed in his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, through the form of floral printed blazers, textured leather jackets, Ben Franklin screen-printed tees and red and black track pants with tapered legs. Thanks to Tardieu, men have a fresh outlet for letting their creative styling juices flow.

Local Houston designer- Amir Taghi joined us once again for the final night of FH5. This time, we had a chance to peek into two collections- one that was available for immediate buying and the other that was available for pre-order for Spring. For Fall, Amir looked to Iran’s past and present. “The past is known for intricate patterns and designs, but the present is known for the dictatorship ruling the country at this point in time. My job was to show the struggle of the ancient and the modern,” he explained. However, for Spring, he was inspired by Bianca Jagger and Carine Roitfeld- two powerful women were are fierce, bold and empowered. Overall, the collections were minimal in shape, yet compelling when it came to a small detail. I must say that I enjoyed the Fall collection a tad better, as I was a fan of the pop of red against a nude, print or light pink. I loved the draped bow in the back of a strapless nude dress. It was somewhat awkward…yet….somehow, it just WORKED. Then there were two more looks, an exaggerated off-the-shoulder light pink top paired with a red pencil skirt, a printed top with red maxi skirt that were my favorites as well. So simple…and yet dramatically good. The Spring collection was lovely, with a pastel palette and wearable separates. I appreciated the cigarette pants and halter tops with quirky embellished collars. The Spring/Summer 2015 collection is currently available for pre-order here.

New York City luxury ready-to-wear and jewelry designer- Valentina Kova presented her Spring 2015 collection- “Aequorea,” which was mainly inspired by her love of the sea, scuba diving and surfing. The color palette was rich with a mix of dark and pastel hues, hinting at the marvelous colors of the sea and the kaleidoscopic creatures that reside in it. The looks were breezy and could take one from a day at the beach to a night on the town. Valentina is also known for intertwining masculine with feminine, which was evident in the finely tailored jackets and trench coats. The fluidity of the chiffon and silk blouses and slip-like dresses were inspired by jellyfish. She also sent out a bodysuit tucked under a flowy silk trench coat that resembled a scuba suit. I feel that Valentina captured the essence of the sea beautifully through fashion.

Last but certainly not least, Houston designer David Peck‘s impeccable collection took to the runway. This Fall/Winter Resort season, he was inspired by a road trip to his hometown of Santa Fe, NM last Fall. He also went to Roswell, Taos and Marfa. He designed prints that were inspired by those cities, as well as the colors and textures that reside in the area. There was one notable print he used, a picture of a vintage trailer parked in a desert landscape; he explained to me that he took that print from a photograph he took while at the El Cosmico Hotel in Marfa. The collection featured his signature easy separates, finely-tuned career wear, stunning cocktail and eveningwear and lastly- the debut of his faux-fur vest collection. David additionally added statement accessories, such as handwoven clutches, belts and jewelry- all bearing resemblance to the Southwest. Just when you thought the presentation was over, there was one surprise after another. There was one segment when the models marched down the runway in two versions of David’s faux fur vests. Just when you thought, ‘oh this can’t get any better…’ well my friend, it does. The light dimmed and we were mesmerized by dancers from the Houston Ballet. The finale of the show had models mixed with the dancers, who were sporting exotic masquerade masks. Congrats to another successful collection David! I want one of everything in my closet… please… and thank you!

Fashion Houston Night Three: Vintage Renaissance, Melancholy Photography, Mark Rothko and Chloe Dao

New York designer Bibhu Mohapatra once again returned to Houston and graced us with another wonderful collection. His Spring 2015 ready-to-wear collection was inspired by British writer, heiress and political activist- Nancy Cunard (1896-1965). Bibhu had been on a Cunard ocean liner a couple years back and read about her in the ship’s library. He recalls being enthralled by her philanthropist lifestyle and style. Her style was very eclectic, as she favored large African-inspired statement jewelry made from mainly natural materials, such as: wood, bone and ivory. She was known for stacking large bracelets on both arms, from wrist to elbow. The necklaces she wore consisted of bulky cubes, taking on a hint of ‘Cubism.’ Mohapatra’s collection was his view on how he thinks Nancy would dress if she were alive today. Geometric patterns, leather and vintage (notably the 20s/Art Deco period) silhouettes were very prominent in the collection. All the looks were powerful, modern and feminine, while taking on an air of Nancy Cunard’s legacy.

Rebecca Minkoff flew in from New York City to present her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, inspired by Deborah Turbeville- a fashion photographer who was known for turning the otherwise light and whimsical art of fashion photography and turning it into more dark and melancholy beauty. She would manipulate her negatives by scratching, tearing or dirtying them up; as well as fade the color or deliberately overexpose them. Minkoff sent easy breezy bohemian pieces, along with her signature handbags down the runway. Some of the looks also gave off a subtle 70s vibe. A fringed moto jacket, reversible moto jacket, crisp blue and white with blue strip shirt-dresses stood out as key pieces in my opinion.

Houston Community College alum Jo’se (Jio’zei) Reyes’s collection took on an all new meaning to the “in charge” mantra. Structured suiting in dark hues were key elements in the collection. Geometric cut-outs and edgy color-blocking were strong points, while Reyes also took risks by including risqué slits in numerous garments. Regardless of the sensuality of some of the looks, Reyes still nailed the powerful “take charge,” strong career wear.

During intermission, pop/soul singer and songwriter- Ashley Toman took to the stage and performed a couple of her hit songs.

New Yorker Rolando Santana also returned to Houston to showcase his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, inspired by one of his favorite painters- Mark Rothko. The collection wasn’t a literal take on Rothko’s paintings, rather it adhered more to the simplicity of his work, the overall color-blocking and a hint of ‘Cubism.’ Lovely pastels played with darker hues on 40s/50s style dresses, flared skirts and bouncy blouses. Santana also took to toying with multiple textures, such as: fur, sequins, silks, etcetera. It was quite a pretty collection and I’m excited to see what Rolando brings to Houston next year.

Houston’s very own Project Runway darling- Chloe Dao was the last designer to headline night three. Of course, her Spring 2015 collection ‘The Building Block’ was undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser. Chloe goes on to state that, “The designs are meant to be staples in your closet. It was about building the perfect wardrobe for a woman. Within the collection, there were a lot of classic ‘must have’ pieces, such as a luxurious silk striped dress shirt, a sultry off-the- shoulder dress and a the ultimate skirt.” Chloe opted for timeless silhouettes, but added little touches of her own (such as fresh fabric choices). The ‘WOW pieces’ that seemed to get the most rave from the audience were the finale dresses in a gorgeous floral fabric. I also loved the long wrapped striped shirt dress, so crisp and clean. Check out chloedao.com for additional information. Be sure to also stop by her boutique in Rice Village if you are local to Houston (6127 Kirby Drive Houston,TX 77005).

Fashion Houston Night Two: AI Designers, Tribal, Eveningwear and Naeem Khan

Emerging designer and Art Institute graduate- Breccia Demartini stood at the end of the runway with her models and took the selfie that probably still has Houston buzzing. She had just debuted a part of her first Spring/Summer 2015 collection, inspired by Spanish culture (from the blue waters of the ocean to the scenic beauty of the country in general) and her trip to the Canary Islands back in 2013. I loved the pops of yellow and blue in the otherwise neutral-colored collection. My favorite piece was the strapless gown with mermaid skirt and scalloped neckline. Demartini just launched in 2013 and is already off to a running head start.

Art Institute emerging designer Clarence T. Lee unveiled his Spring/Summer 2015 (and senior) collection “Woven Sophistication” under his brand- DAL (hasn’t officially launched yet, but in the works). DAL represents the names of his Mother and Grandmothers: Deborah, Audrey and Lena. He credits these women as his muses for every collection, as they embody qualities that mean everything to him, like: sophistication, elegance, strength and timelessness. The collection was heavily influenced by the relationships of his close-knit family and friends, which translates into the concept of basket weaving. The basket weaving was seen in four of the eight looks and according to Lee, “Represents the foundation, strength and support that my family gives me every single day to do what I love: design. I knew this collection would be more personal than anything, so I did not focus on trends. Outside of my family and friends, I was inspired by natural fibers; linen, silk organza and satin, cotton denim, and bamboo. The fabrics are breathable, wearable and are perfect for the Houston weather. Lastly, the idea to do an all white collection with the hint of grey came from my favorite flower; peonies –elsa sass to be exact. The flower is elegant and timeless but it is also crisp and clean.” To me, the “heart” of the collection was the lavender maxi skirt. Not only am I obsessed with them, but I loved how polished and defined his design was. You can find Clarence on instagram.

Inclán Studio was launched in 2013 by Paola Contreras, a long-time fan of fashion (and Art Institute graduate) who had originally planned on being in the international business sector. She realized that fashion design was her true calling and taking a leap of faith, hasn’t looked back since. The debut collection was titled, “Athletic Cubism” and featured easy-to-wear sporty pieces with cut-out detailing and Picasso-esque paneling. There was one top in particular- a feminine take on the jersey- with the number 02, that held a special place in her heart. It was Paola’s number during her high school and college years playing soccer. The presentation additionally included 3D printed handbags, also crazy geometric good. Inclán has really upped the ante in terms of effeminate sporty wear, transitioning it with more pleasing fabrics like: linens, silks and ultra-suede. For additional information, check out inclanstudio.com.

Art Institute emerging designer Lee Yates presented his senior capsule collection “Elegant Phoenix” under his brand- 2 2 8 by L. Yates. “2 2 8″ stands for the date he was born and is the doorway to the creative mind that embodies his brand. I loved how the bold red played well against the light and dark grays. This collection emphasized minimalistic tailoring, cut-out detailing (some garments with zippers) and color-blocked paneling. His inspiration “comes from the legend of The Phoenix, Reawakening herself and Rising from the ashes with the Aura Equivalent to a Gem. The three stages displayed in the collection were: Charcoal, Ash, and The Phoenix. Throughout the collection, you will see The Phoenix Breaking Free, Gaining Confidence, and Rising Above The Ashes.” Be sure to follow Lee on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest happenings.

Rubin Singer (you may recognize him as one of the designers for Beyoncé) returned to Fashion Houston, exhibiting his collection- “Future Primeval.” It was tribal in nature, sensual with a hint of aggressiveness. The collection, consisting of gowns and separates; started out in black and white, prints, exquisite curvature and intriguing silhouettes. The last half of the collection enlightened us with chic red carpet worthy pieces in pops of fuchsia, olive green, metallic silver and dark lavender. Call it ‘lyrical femininity’ at its finest.

Houston Metropolitan Dance Company- MET Dance performed a piece from their show- “Indivisible” during the brief intermission. MET Dance is a contemporary jazz repertoire concert company where eleven dancers are contracted for a year, beginning from September to September and are in-house trained by some of Houston’s most prestigious instructors.

M.C.L by Matthew Campbell Laurenza was launched in 2007 at Bergdorf’s. Matthew credits his travels and immersing himself in a variety of cultures as his main inspirations for his jewelry. He also blends his abilities in architecture, sculpture and jewelry to create high-end and unique statement pieces. Be sure to check out mcldesign.net to shop the collection and find out more!

Latin sensation- Manuel Noe performed a couple of his latest hits during yet another brief intermission. He even had some of the gals in the audience and start dancing to his rhythmic tunes.

Miamai-based designer Rene Ruiz has been known world-wide for his original designs and luxurious fabrics since the 90s. He unveiled his Spring/Summer 2015 evening wear collection that had an air of romanticism with Miami flair. The gowns were light, bohemian and elegant, with little touches that make the woman feel care-free and invincible. Head over to reneruiz.net for additional information.

Another Houston and celebrity favorite, New York City based- Naeem Khan dazzled the audience with his gowns and glam sportswear. His Spring 2015 collection was about romance and flowers, including the blooming of the garden and its ‘coming to life.’ There was nothing I didn’t like about the elegant collection. I felt that the easy silhouettes were wearable and provided the woman wearing it with the utmost sophistication and confidence. Naeem Khan was a great choice for rounding out night two of Fashion Houston.

Fashion Houston Begins with Theatrics, LBDs, Flair and Grungy Gentlemen

2014 marked five years for Fashion Houston- the city’s most anticipated event, which is held at the Wortham Center in Downtown. The four night event drew hundreds of eager folks who were excited to see the latest collections from the area’s more well-known designers, plus designers from around the country. The event is spearheaded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Jared Lang, who just recently announced his new partnership with Vivian Wise of Velvet Slipper Divine.

The opening night of FH5 started out with a bang as we were treated to theatrics during the Alexis Monsanto show, followed by the Little Black Dress designers and their muses, Jonathan Blake, Tibi, the exotic designs of Sameera Faridi and the preppy grunge in Grungy Gentleman.

The night began with inspirational hip-hop artist- Rocko Stedy Narvios, performing the FH5 theme song “Lights, Camera, Action.” Rocko combines his passion for hip-hop with his ‘Pride of Place’ concept (accepting your past, appreciating your present and welcoming your future) and in collaboration with his “Do Better City” movement. He was commissioned by Mayor Annise Parker to create the city’s and FH5’s theme song. He rocked out the runway as models Thaddeus Laday and Jamie Huger modeled garments styled by Thaddeus himself. Thaddeus also styled Rocko in a suit constructed of Italian silks that represented his love for “going with flow” (ocean waves) and tropical island lifestyles.

*Video used with permission from Rocko*

After the performance were opening remarks from Jared, Vivian and the night’s emcee- Lily Jang. Then we watched the Mayor make her ‘cameo’ via video, counting down the official start in 5…4…3…2…1…

Los Angeles based designer Alexis Monsanto presented his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, inspired by the Byzantine Era and in conjunction with Roman gods and warrior princesses. The collection started off relatively normal, with wearable separates that were jazzed up according to Monsanto’s eclectic taste. We saw his debut of his exclusive Monsanto Print: featuring scrolls, medallions, chains and leopard prints. Also relevant to the collection was his unique honeycombed pleating that was meant to resemble scales and armor. He also never made a man wearing a suit and shirt whose collared sash tied in a bow look so good. It then transitioned into the theatrical portion, with over-the-top headwear (the butterfly one was so fantastic), and a Roman gods and warrior princess ceremony. The ‘Roman King,’ wearing a chainmaille-esque suit of armor, complete with crown and cape, wowed the crowd. The collection was definitely a crowd-pleaser of the evening.

After a brief intermission and performance by grammy-nominated singer and actress- Tamar Davis, New York based Tibi was up next, proving that the night was still going strong. Tibi was founded in 1997 by Amy Smilovic, who wanted it to be a well-priced luxury line for women who want to feel relaxed and feminine. The Spring 2015 collection was a take on ‘Japan Meets Peru.’ Smilovic combined the minimalism of Japan (such as obi ties) with the crafty work of the Peruvian culture. Boxy crop tops, darling skirts, minimal blousy linen-esque tops and culottes ruled the Tibi runway.

I’ve heard so much about Houston-based designer Jonathan Blake throughout this last year that I was excited to finally actually be able to see his collection in person. Jonathan is known to take something that’s sophisticated yet edgy and then puts emphasis on luxurious materials such as animal skins, silks and cashmere. His clothing is manufactured in Houston, while the handbags are manufactured in California. His Spring/Summer 2015 collection was inspired by the surrealism and whimsy of Alice and Wonderland. There were two prints that were the talk of the collection- the ‘butterfly’ and ‘stingray’ prints, both of which were designed by Jonathan. The ‘stingray’ print was actually a photo of a stingray that was blown up several times. It looked pretty incredible on a maxi skirt and dresses. Jonathan Blake’s collections are available in a range of sizes, from 0 to 22.

The Little Black Dress Designer is a statewide designer competition platform that encourages fashion students and emerging designers to compete for a chance to gain not only recognition in the industry and community, but receive financial monies to the school of their choosing. It was founded in 2008 by Neal Hamil Modeling Agency director- Jeff Shell. The finale of the 6th annual LBDD competition took place during FH5, where the ten finalists had their original dresses go down the runway on a professional model and then had their assigned muse- one of Houston’s influential female tastemakers- wearing a modified version of the dress to suit her taste. The ten finalists were: Gabby Ong, Phuong Le, Jeanne Ly, Daniel Amaya, Joubaier Joubert, Natthakan Chompuwiset, Claire Ferran, Judi Hallenbeck and Andrea Giralt-Brun. The muses were: Yasmine Haddad, Ursaline Hamilton, Lucinda Loya, Beth Muecke, Judy Nyquist, Theresa Roemer, Roseann Rogers, Jessica Rossman, Holly Waltrip and Donae Chramosta.

Houston area designer and owner of Poshak Fashion and Style boutique- Sameera Faridi brought exquisite and exotic South Asian flair into her evening and bridal wear collection she displayed during the first night of FH5. Faridi stuck with her South Asian roots, showing us a diverse collection of traditional and non-traditional saris for the women and kurtas with choridars for men. Each garment is hand embroidered and beaded, showing that no attention to detail has been left out. The rich colors and vibrant trims danced in the spotlights and as the models sashayed down the runway. Sameera’s designs are an example of a creative twist in terms of attiring yourself for your wedding or gala.

The finale of night one went to the multimedia brand- Grungy Gentleman, headed by Jace Lipstein. After numerous collaborations, they recently launched their own apparel line during New York Fashion Week in September and takes on an athletic approach to tailoring. Gentlemanly models strolled down the runway as hip-hop legends: Jadakiss and Styles P of The LOX jammed around them. The females in the audience raved as Don Benjamin and Will Jardell from America’s Next Top Model, soccer stars Mike Chabala and Euan Holden and Kalan Laws broke out onto the runway in somewhat preppy-meets-athletic layered looks. “The crossover between fashion and music are apparent through culture, lyrics and its affect on society. Live performances on the runway are the next logical progression between the two industries. Who better to launch this innovative platform with than two hip hop legends, Jadakiss and Styles P of The LOX? It was a perfect match and the fellas looked super fresh in our Mitchell & Ness collaboration on the catwalk. They made us very proud,” Jace Lipstein stated.

All in all, Fashion Houston Five started out with quite a line-up. The next few nights are sure to follow suit.

Venexiana – NYFW September 2014

Venexiana by Kati Stern was one of THE shows I wanted to see while at NYFW. The ‘fashion gods’ were on my side, as I received an invitation to their Spring/Summer 2015 showing a few days shy of the presentation at Lincoln Center. I was lucky to get a great spot in the press pit and it just so happened that I was next to one of my media buddies from Austin- Cheryl of Fashionably Austin. She was also VERY KIND enough to let me borrow one of her Nikon lenses, the 24/120…and let me tell you folks… that lens, along with a few helpful tips she provided… changed my life in terms of shooting runway. So dear Cheryl, a thousand air-kisses and ‘thank-yous.’ I am forever grateful.

Hungarian-born Kati Stern, an all-around creative gal who dabbles in architecture, piano and fashion design, launched Venexiana in 2003. Her eveningwear designs are known for their rock-n-roll edge that compliment their otherwise haute couture gentility. Kati’s runway presentation was amazing, as I knew it would be. The gowns were elegant and feminine. The silhouettes were structured and lavishly tailored, with rhinestone trim on some of the gowns that gave them an added rocker edge. Kati credits that her inspiration ‘comes from the season and it’s lightness. Also, the lightness of the design and lightness of the spirit.’ One-shoulder and sleeveless, along with flowy fabrics and easy colors were trends that stole the spotlight. Just when you thought a dress was ‘too simple’ in front, there was always an eye-catching detail in back; whether it be the drape of the fabric or the cut of the dress.

When Kati did her finale walk, she was just so energetic and very passionate. Kati- if you are reading this- I wish I could’ve met you. Sending air-hugs from Texas!

Alon Livne – NYFW September 2014

Young Israeli designer Alon Livne learned the fundamentals of fashion design while working at high-end European fashion houses starting at the tender age of 17. Since then, he has also worked for Alexander McQueen and worked in the evening wear and couture division at Roberto Cavalli. While there, he worked on orders for celebrities and custom work for international royals. After breaking out on his own, he won first place during Israel’s version of “Project Runway,” gaining world-wide recognition from his peers and media alike. February 2013 was his first runway showcase at New York Fashion Week.

It was an honor to be able to attend his September 2014 showcase at the prestigious Hudson Hotel. The show started out as a runway presentation of nineteen looks and then formed into a gallery setting, allowing us to get close inspection of the designs.

Livne’s cocktail and evening wear designs were inspired by the post modern architecture of Michael Havemeyer and underwater creatures. The clothing emphasized his signature elaborate structural details that coincided with his couture and handmade craftsmanship. The gowns, leotards and bodycon jumpsuits- ranging from neoprene to chiffon and leather; ran fluid in colors of black, silver, white, gray and lavender. The silhouettes were without a doubt, sexy and feminine. Soft fabrics (like the chiffon) complemented their more edgier counterparts (the neoprene and leather). If a gal ever wanted to wear that strikingly sexy piece for an event, Alon Livne is at the top of the list in that category.

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