One of Houston's biggest fashion events of the year is undergoing a major change after its two top leaders decided to part ways.
Fashion trendsetter Vivian Wise, known for her pink hair and stylish wardrobe, had joined forces with Fashion Houston founder Jared Lang to produce the annual runway extravaganza showcasing top national designers and local favorites.
But Wise told CultureMap that she has decided to go it alone because her vision and Lang's did not match up. She attributes the split to "irreconcilable differences."
" Hopefully people will be OK with me on my own. It will either be a colossal failure or a triumphant success. I'm excited to be able to try," Wise said.
Lang founded Fashion Houston in 2010, with a several days of runway shows featuring such designers as Christian Siriano and Lela Rose at the Wortham Theater Center. Each year since, such designers at Monique Lhuillier, Zac Posen, Naeem Khan and Bibhu Mohapatra have participated, with subsequent trunk shows at top retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Elizabeth Anthony, Tootsies and Sloan/Hall.
"Fashion Houston has been a part of Houston for six years and it's not going anywhere," said Lang, who continues to own the trademark to the name. "I'm not at liberty to say anything beyond that."
But Wise says she is embarking on her own plans, shortening the event to three nights in November (18 through 20) and adding a luncheon and VIP dinner. Each night will highlight a charity, with proceeds earmarked for the organization being honored, she said.
Legendary model honored
Wise is sticking to the original November time frame because she had previously inked commitments from legendary model and actress Carmen Dell'Orefice as the first Legacy Award honoree. The Legacy Award was created to honor an individual or organization who has made a significant contribution to the fashion industry.
The 83-year-old Dell'Orefice will be honored on the first night and will walk the runway "her knees allowing" on the final night, Wise said, with Los Angeles-based designer Peter Cohen as the featured designer. Famed designer Ralph Rucci is rumored to be attending to give Dell'Orefice the award.
"It became necessary to sever ties," Wise tells CultureMap. "The details of that don't matter, but (Lang) is going to keep Fashion Houston the name, what he does with it is entirely up to him. The facts still remain for me that Carmen Dell'Orefice is still being honored as the Texas Legacy Award on opening night. All the things I was laying the groundwork for Fashion Houston I can do lock, stock and barrel myself as a separate thing.""Fashion Houston has been a part of Houston for six years and it's not going anywhere," said Lang, who continues to own the trademark to the name.
She is also forming a host committee to attract the social crowd, which supported the event but has dropped off in recent years. "I want to use it as a vehicle to support charities here in town and our local community and our local designers. There's so much talent that has not even been acknowledged or even found yet," she said.
Wise is seeking suggestions for a new name with plans for a new location. Possibilities include a warehouse or converted airplane hangar, with stadium seating so those in back rows can get a good view of the runway, or a tent at Discovery Green.
"This is a celebration of fashion. It's a true fashion week, just like it's always been," Wise said.
"This is a celebration of fashion. It's a true fashion week, just like it's always been," she said. "It's the only consumer-based fashion week there is in the world, which still holds true. What Fashion Houston didn't do and what I was hoping to achieve when I was still affiliated with them was to bring in a charitable component to have fashion serve a higher purpose to serve the community that serves it."
"People forget that fashion is an art form. It's beauty. But with beauty comes great responsibility and I want to use this to elevate people's idea and notion of what fashion is — the whimsy and the dream that came from the designer."
Wise says she is excited to reinvent the event in a way that puts Houston on the fashion map. "Hopefully people will be OK with me on my own. It will either be a colossal failure or a triumphant success. I'm excited to be able to try," she said.