NEW YORK — After exploring the many moods of artist Mark Rothko for spring, designer Rolando Santana shifted gears dramatically with a highly-embellished fall collection that evokes a regal spirit. He looked to 18th-century Europe, incorporating intricate laces, beading and rich fabrics made in Europe into his designs.
The royal spirit was even reflected in the way the models walked down the runway in Santana's Manhattan studio — each strolled in a slow, regal manner befitting a queen.
"It's very different from my other collections," Santana said after his show. "I kind of stepped out of my comfort zone."
"It's very different from my other collections," he said after his show. "I kind of stepped out of my comfort zone."
Santana, whose collection is available at Elizabeth Anthony, features opulent jacquard cocktail dresses nipped at the waist, textured pantsuits, fur-trimmed metallic day suits and heavily beaded evening wear. A sexy beaded black long-sleeve gown that closes the show is red carpet material. Jewel-embellished pants, paired with a ruffled white blouse, look especially sleek, while a gray turtleneck and poof skirt with gold crystal beads shines.
And in one instance, a model is simply encased in nothing but fur, with one shoulder exposed, like Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8.
Even the models' fingernails reflected the opulent spirit of the show, with shades of dark green, dusty purple and teal that matched the fabrics used in the collection. Guests each received samples of the three polishes from Zoya, the company that created the nail polish especially for the Santana show.
While in Houston for an appearance at Fashion Houston last fall, Santana expanded on how he has evolved as a designer in the last 15 years and why he has been successful
"In this industry, if you don't change you go out," he said.
"In this industry, if you don't change you go out," he said. "I've become more experienced. Making a ready-to-wear collection, you can really let your imagination run. As you build a business around it, you feel more confident in trying new things that perhaps you would not have for many different reasons.
"(But) I can't dream up some crazy dress and be like I just wanted to make this for fun. I don't think like that. I think of something beautiful that I feel, whether it's in the collection or for someone particular, the goal is to sell it.
"Anything we put on the runway is something that we've studied and we will produce, whether it's some pieces that we cut very few of or some that we cut dozens of. It's always something that we think is workable."