To those who skipped Wednesday night’s Fire & Ice fashion presentation by Toni Whitaker and Aries Milan because of the chilly Houston temps, here’s a newsflash: You wouldn’t hack it during New York Fashion Week.
Sure it was frigid outside, but the feel inside Americas was warm, no, make that sizzling. Whitaker’s stepping out of her comfort zone a bit and the results are stunning.
Milan’s Coquette Boutique has a reputation for taking the expected and adding something fresh and the collaboration between the two is staying true to that concept. The duo are clearly mixing their strengths. Whitaker’s construction was perfect and details like Swarovski crystals and lace stole the show. Milan’s contributions come in the form of pushing the design in a new direction.
“It’s mixing my technical skills and her edginess. We took one of my classic tops and added boy shorts to it. It was something different for me,” Whitaker says. Whitaker wanted spring to be about flesh tones and Milan pushed for white and they agreed. The result is what Milan calls “crisp and clean.”
Whitaker showed three white structured looks to start and followed with drop-dead hand-dyed skirts made from ostrich, turkey and peacock feather. Paired with a white vintage tank, the skirts popped in deep maroon, black and white and an ombre pattern and Whitaker offered either a bubble shape or a low-slung mini.
The skirts are whimsical labors of love. Whitaker broke a blender mixing dyes and she hand sews each feather to the silk chiffon, creating a seamless swath of color that’s hard not to reach out and touch.
The three-model finale pitted two black lace mini dresses against a white lace bohemian dress ideal for a sexy beach wedding.
“That was a seven-yard piece of fabric and just started draping it. I never cut it except for the arm holes,” Whitaker says. The dress was low-cut and sheer, but because of the way she folded the fabric, there was a sweetness to it.
Accenting Whitaker’s nine piece collection were custom necklaces and bracelets handmade by Ann Brookes, a local artist. Her pieces mix sparkle with crocheted fabrics, juxtaposing the soft against the hard. Her jewelry is found locally at Coquette.
The collection is definitely new territory for Whitaker.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m designing for Lady Gaga,” she says.