NEW YORK — For a moment at the Monique Lhuillier show, I thought maybe I hadn't left Houston.
All eyes were on the glamorous foursome of Debbie Festari, Elizabeth Petersen, Joyce Echols and Melissa Mithoff as they walked into the tents at Lincoln Center, all decked out for a night on the town. These ladies, in the Big Apple for a weekend of fun and fashion shows, know how to make an entrance.
A few minutes later Mica Mosbacher, with her brother John McCutchen and his wife, sculptor Karen Garrett, of Dallas, strolled in, each looking like they had come directly from Daytona International Speedway. All three were dressed in jumpsuits emblazoned with their race car sponsors and The Texas Heart Institute name and logo.
"The race suit solved my wardrobe dilemma," Mosbacher said. "I have had as much fun in it as in a Monique Lhuillier ballgown."
While it was not the traditional attire of fashion week, they explained that they wore the suits to promote the importance of heart health awareness through their racing activities. "The race suit solved my wardrobe dilemma," Mosbacher said. "I have had as much fun in it as in a Monique Lhuillier ballgown."
Last month McCutchen raced in the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona to benefit The Texas Heart Institute; his team placed a respectable 26th. Garrett started the nonprofit Godstone Ranch Motorsports to promote racing as a way to raise funds and get the word out about ways to prevent heart disease.
With all the hubub, the Lhuillier show had a lot to live up to. Known for her red carpet gowns and bridal creations, the Los Angeles-based designer presented a collection of Oscar-worthy creations with an edge. She incorporated leather insets and added leather corset belts that gave a hint of a bondage theme, tempered by lace sleeves and tulle-covered backs.
An overflow crowd jammed the restaurant as five designers, including Galindo and Coquette boutique owner Aries Milan, sent out looks on a runway that circled diners.
Galindo presented 15 looks from his Czar by Cesar Galindo collection, with a mix of day dresses and nighttime frocks in chocolate, red berry, lavendar and charteuse shades.
Milan and her sister, August, kicked off the show with 10 looks from their Kate Kills Pretty collection, including a glittery sequined jumpsuit that evoked the Studio 54 era and a furry skirt and modern top that they dubbed the "Braveheart Dress."
Houstonians who cheered on the designers included Rebecca Spears, Samira Salman, Kristen Cannon, Jacy Cooper, Roz Pactor, Katherine Le, Lori Freese and Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, owner of the Vintage Contessa, who secured the vintage holsters that accessorized the Milan sisters' collection and gave the looks a Wild West spirit. (The models wore cowboy boots, too, to a funky Texas vibe.)
Chramosta said she plans to adapt the holsters as cell phone holders in a variety of fabrics and exotic skins.
The celebrating didn't stop there. Galindo hosted an after party celebration Sunday night at District 36 with a performance by noted female impersonator Mother Juan Aviance.
The Juicy twins start again
Becca Cason Thrash made a whirlwind trip to New York to support her good friend, Gela Nash-Taylor, as she launched her new clothing line Skaist-Taylor Sunday afternoon. Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy were the founders of Juicy Couture and built it into it a retail juggernaut before selling the company to Liz Claiborne. As soon as they were freed from an 18-month no compete clause, they launched this new line with an eye on the hip young customer they had cultivated at Juicy.
"It's a new brand and a new world," Nash-Taylor explained. "We're definitely having fun."
The collection had an easygoing free spirit, but the best thing about the afternoon was the music.
The duo chose an unlikely location for a fashion presentation — a parking garage under Lincoln Center — that added a raw spirit to the collection, which Nash-Taylor described as "California '70s." It includes short dresses of gold lame, wispy black negligees, military-style coatdresses, floral print lounging gowns, floppy hats and mink booties — everything the hip California girl craves.
The collection had an easygoing spirit, but the best thing about the afternoon was the music. Models walked amid giant cubes flashing LED images of a redwood forest to a groovy mix of tunes from the era put together by Nash-Taylor's husband, Duran Duran bass guitarist John Taylor, who was on hand to support his wife.
Thrash noted the nice groove of the Beatles song, "Because." It made me remember what a beautiful song it is.
See a video of the Skaist-Taylor collection in the parking garage: