Fotini Copeland is making her first visit to Houston, where she's presenting a trunk show of her spring collection along with some pieces for fall at Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf Thursday and Friday, but the designer has a feeling she is going to click with the Texas customer.
"When I was in the jewelry business, one of the companies I dealt with was based in Dallas, so I've always followed Texas fashion. I love Texas woman because they like color and they're a little bit more willing to take a risk, which is wonderful for a designer," she said in a recent phone interview.
"I love Texas woman because they like color and they're a little bit more willing to take a risk, which is wonderful for a designer."
There's nothing androgonyous about her line, simply called Fotini. The designer, who goes by her first name professionally, believes in designing clothes that are feminine and sexy, with a ladylike edge.
"The DNA of the brand is all about luxurious fabrication," she said. "It's always going to be feminine and sensual. A woman always wants to feel like a woman in my designs. Feminine yet strong.
"And she likes to be noticed. The Texas woman does like to be noticed and be sexy. That's my client."
For her spring collection, she features bold colors, based on Latin American basket weave prints, in chiffon and jaquard fabrics. "I am definitely feeling a lot of color for the season," she said.
Her fall collection is an homage to her background (she was born in Athens to a Greek mother and Egyptian father who immigrated to Canada where she was raised), with Greek-inspired toga gowns, laser-cut leather-and-lace dresses and feathers, which she has incorporated into her collection for the first time in capes and gowns.
What caught the eye of Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf owner Julie Phillips Roberts was the expert corsetry featured in the collection. About six years ago, Fotini left the business world, where she worked in finance, in order to pursue her dream to become a fashion designer. She moved to Italy and studied corsetry for nearly three years in several Italian cities with plans to design and sell a line of corsets before she decided to create a full-fledged clothing line.
"A corset is one of the most beautiful things a woman can own. I truely believe every woman should have a corset in her closet," Fotini said. "They're feminine, they look beautiful under a jacket, worn with jeans or a pencil skirt. As a businesswoman it's wonderful to be able to go from a business meeting to a cocktail party and not have to change an entire outfit."
"A corset is one of the most beautiful things a woman can own. I truely believe every woman should have a corset in her closet."
Roberts, who is always looking for unique lines that other stores don't carry, was impressed by the construction of Fotini's corsets. "Even if a woman doesn't have a perfect figure, she is able to have a feminine, sensual look," Roberts said. "But it's so refined. It's very much the Houston lady."
"And she has beautiful blouses in soft prints. It's not like anything I've seen in the (Houston) market. The prints are soft and appealing. It's a really elegant collection."
When Fotini went into the fashion business, she said she did a lot of market research before opting for the feminine look she is becoming known for. "You need to have something that separates you from everyone else," she said.
But at the same time, she believes a designer shouldn't stray from her vision. "You have to stay true to your sensibilities," she said.
Fotini will be at Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
See presentation of Fotini fall 2012 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: