Clifford on the Catwalk Fall 2015
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Rolando Santana's opulent collection conjures up a regal spirit — even down to his models' fingernails

Designer conjures up a regal spirit, even down to models' fingernails

Rolando Santana embellished long-sleeve evening gown
Rolando Santana closed his fall runway shwo with a beaded long-sleeve black gown. Photo by Fernando Colon
Rolando Santana jeweled pants and white blouse
Rolando Santana jeweled slacks and white ruffled blouse. Photo by Fernando Colon
Rolando Santana fall 2015 runway show
Rolando Santana takes his runway bow Photo by Fernando Colon
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 22
This model in a fur coat emulates Liz Taylor's Oscar-winning performance in Butterfield 8 Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Rolando Santana turtleneck and embellished jeweled poof skirt
Rolando Santana gray turtlenck and crystal-embroidered poof skirt. Photo by Fernando Colon
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 10
Rolando Santana jacquard cocktail dress. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 32
Rolando Santana evening gown with jeweled bodice. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 18
Rolando Santana suit with fur collar. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 30
Rolando Santana gown with fur bolero. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 12
Rolando Santana fur-trimmed suit. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 15
Rolando Santana embroidered leather skirt and sleeveless top, accented with fur. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 26
Rolando Santana fur tunic over gray dress. Photo courtesy of Rolando Santana
Rolando Santana embellished long-sleeve evening gown
Rolando Santana jeweled pants and white blouse
Rolando Santana fall 2015 runway show
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 22
Rolando Santana turtleneck and embellished jeweled poof skirt
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 10
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 32
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 18
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 30
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 12
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 15
Clifford Fashion Week New York fall 2015 Rolando Santana February 2015 look 26

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."