Tag - Wortham Center

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Fashion Houston- Day 4
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Fashion Houston- Day 1

Fashion Houston- Day 4

Each night of every fashion week I’ve attended thus far, the collections seem to get better and better. Such was the case for the fourth and final night of Fashion Houston. Four designers were spotlighted- Johanna Johnson, Zachary Prell, Haute Hippie and Wes Gordon.

Australian designer Johanna Johnson did her country proud when she showcased her Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Johanna launched her label back in 2005 and is entirely based in Australia. Her signature design aesthetic is old world style and is infused with vintage finishes and techniques. Today, the brand is known for its timeless red carpet gowns and is favored by many celebrities. The collection that was spotlighted in Houston was titled- ‘Muse.’ The swoon-worthy gowns were had a very “old Hollywood glam” with 1920s Art Deco silhouettes. The beading on some of the gowns took about a month to complete, which just adds to the decadent quality of the brand. Beautifully delicate crystal headpieces and accessories added extra ambiance to the “Great Gatsby -esque” collection. I especially loved the metallic gold maxi skirt and the finale silver gown with beading. Both pieces are elegant and versatile, in that you could easily dress them up or down. The Johanna Johnson presentation was one of the those edge-of-my-seat moments and left me wanting more.

New York-based mens sportswear brand Zachary Prell was up next on the runway. Originally a business and finance pro on Wall Street, Zachary had always found issues finding a shirt that fit well. That set the stage for him to create the perfect sport shirt. He has had no formal training in design and decided to just roll up his sleeves and design by trial and error. After two years of working on product development with his team of industry experts, he officially launched his namesake label in 2006. Since then, the label has grown and is known for skillfully crafted clothing that is versatile and sharp. Zachary presented a mix of key pieces of his Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 collections during Fashion Houston. The Fall 2013 collection was inspired by “easy luxury” and the wardrobe needs of the modern man. We saw muted colors, cozy knits, layered shirts and suave motorcycle jackets. The collection easily flowed into the Spring 2014 collection, which was inspired by the Cosa Rican seashore- lots of color, prints and slubbed-cotton solids. For more information on the brand, please check out ZacharyPrell.com.

New York based brand- Haute Hippie was launched in 2008 by Oklahoma native- Trish Wescoat Pound. She moved to New York City in 1994 and began her fashion career at Calvin Klein. Throughout the years, she climbed the ladder and gained exceptional stature with leading industry insiders. In 2008, she pulled out her whole life savings, traveled to India and six months later, showed her first collection in LA. When asked about the conception of the brand, I’d like to paraphrase Wescoat, “When fashion stops being a trend and becomes a style. There’s a very big difference between fashion and style…We design into a style, a look or aesthetic and not necessarily what the trends are…It’s always about that “style”…Who a woman was in the 20s or 70s- the marriage of all that. Modernizing vintage, yet with masculine tailoring too. Think of pairing a gown with a motorcycle jacket…That is Haute Hippie.” The Spring 2014 collection was inspired by the story of Persephone- The Greek goddess of Spring. According to Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and wife of Haides- god of the underworld. Long story short, she had to eat a handful of pomegranate seeds, after which she could spend six months on Earth and six months in the underworld; which is how the seasons came about. The collection was inspired by Persephone as a person and the duality of her. She goes from being an innocent girl to being a woman and then queen of the underworld and goddess of Spring. I loved the collection in that it did tell a story… from minimalist silhouettes and neutral colors that slowly blossomed into beautiful floral prints and bright colors. I also noticed some looks that referenced roaring 20s influence (which I was naturally drawn to). Trish did a wonderful job also juxtaposing vintage-inspired accessories with modern pieces. Let’s not forget about the “chest-ccessories”- like beaded collars, opulent shoulder and chest pieces (Trish believes one should always protect their heart) and other body jewelry. This brand is sure to cater to the little “haute hippie” in all of us (it did for me)!

Wes Gordon grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and has always had that passionate drive to be a designer. When time came, he moved to London for four years, during which he studied at the prestigious Central St. Martins and spent his summers shadowing Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford. Upon graduating, he moved to New York and made his first small collection and then showcased it in a hotel room during fashion week 2010. It wasn’t until this past fashion week in September where he won the hearts of his audience and celebrities alike during his first fashion show. He certainly won my heart as well, as his Resort/Spring 2014 collections were pretty fantastic. I was able to get the inside scoop on the inspiration behind the collections from Wes himself and this is what was concluded…Resort/Spring 2014 was about exploring clean, streamlined but still feminine and delicate look. The looks are modern, luxurious and fresh at the same time. They also pay homage to the late 90s elegance: Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, Gwyneth Paltrow a la Great Expectations and Kate Moss in W. Gordon implemented a lot of pastels, which he also grounded them with blacks, coppers and bright whites so they {the pastels} look cool instead of looking “pretty-pretty” or like an Easter decoration. One of my favorite pieces (besides the copper chain-mail crop top) from the collection were the sheer lace tapered pencil skirts that were worn with a striped dress skirt…So chic! Gordon commented that he wanted the models to move relatively fast because he thought the skirts looked better when they moved. It was such a beautiful way to end the last evening of Fashion Houston!

Til next year…..

I’d personally love to thank On the Mark Communications Neil Hamil Modeling Agency and Fashion Houston. To all the designers- thank you for coming to Houston and it was such an honor to be in attendance at your shows!

David Peck, Chloe Dao, Johanna Johnson, Wes Gordon, Trish Wescoat Pound- it was such a pleasure to meet you and speak with you!

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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