The fashion faithful who filled the House of Blues Tuesday night for the fifth annual Little Black Dress Designer fashion show and awards party certainly dressed up for the occasion.
Given the LBD theme, Yasmine Haddad, Miya Shay and Jessica Rossman wore black — Haddad in sleeveless Valentino, Shay in a breezy Alexander McQueen dress that accentuated her baby bump and Rossman in a form-fitting black leather dress emblazoned with a red heart and the words "True Love" that she found in a New York vintage store.
Shawn Noble, a longtime Giorgio Armani executive who has just moved to Houston, looked smashing in Armani black slacks covered with beaded lace tassels and black jacket while beloved Houston fashion leader Kay King, the evening's honoree, sparkled in a sexy scoop neck black ribboned dress by Tadashi Shoji.
Judy Nyquist, who co-chaired the event with Shannon Hall, wore an exquisitely-constructed tea-length patterned dress from "Mickey's super closet," she said, referring to Tootsies' Mickey Rosmarin.
While many wore black, Donae Cangelosi Chramosta stood out in a vintage hot pink D-Squared sheath and pink feather cape.
The student interpretations incorporated leather, satin, lace and quilted fabrics, along with a variety of styles.
Not to be outdone, LBDD founder Jeff Shell appeared onstage in dramatic fashion. "In lieu of a little black dress, I decided to wear a little black cape," he said.
The competition, which Shell has nurtured into a statewide phenomenon, awards $30,000 in scholarships to fashion design students who display their creative vision of the Little Black Dress. "Even though the dresses are black, the designers are colorful personalities," Shell said.
The 10 Houston finalists proudly watched as their creations were displayed in a runway show on the stage of the House of Blues Music Hall before an approving audience that included Vicki Rizzo, Mary Ann McKeithan, Sofia Adrogue and daughter, budding fashion designer Sloane Adrogue Gustafson, Mandy Kao, Linda Brinkman, Roseann Rogers, Ceron, Lenny Matuszewski, Roz Pactor, Tamara Bonar and Chris Goins.
The student interpretations of the LBD incorporated leather, satin, lace and quilted fabrics, along with a variety of styles — flowing, belted, form-fitting — and trends — peplum tops and trailing skirts. With so many interesting designs, the judging panel, which I was delighted to be a part of, found it hard to pick a winner.
Houston Community College student Julio Sanchez took top prize with a sleeveless black shift with exposed zipper in the back and detailed handiwork. Other winners were Ekaterina Levchenko (second), Paola Contreras (third), Chanel Latouche (fourth) and Shanna Tucker (fifth).
When accepting the awards, what stood out most — besides their big smiles — was that none of the designers wore black.