Fashion Fusion

Fashion frenzy: Wild runway show merges Habsburg styles with trendy looks — and mile-high hair

Wild runway show mixes Habsburg-inspired styles with trendy looks

Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, feather dress by Jean Weber
A feather dress by Jean Weber has a timeless look. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Melanie Campbell, Karina Barbieri, Parissa Mohajer
Melanie Campbell, from left, with Karina Barbieri and Parissa Mohajer. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, red gown by Teresa Rangel second place
A bold red gown designed by Teresa Rangel took second place. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Roland Maldonado, Miya Shay, Edward Sanchez, Jessica Rossman
Roland Maldonado, from left, Miya Shay, Edward Sanchez and Jessica Rossman. Photo by Morris Malakoff
ouston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, leather fur coat by Judi Hallenbeck
A leather fur coat by Judi Hallenbeck has a hunting vibe. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, winner Christian Lee
Christian Le was thrilled to receive first and third place for his two designs. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, black gown by Christian Lee first place
Christian Le's black satin gown took first place. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Kisa Williams, Terrica Preston
Kisa Williams, left, and Terrica Preston. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Alfredo Saucedo
Alfredo Saucedo takes a runway bow with two of his designs. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Alexie Jones, Marsha McClemmon
Alexie Jones, left, and Marsha McClemmon. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, modelbeige/gold gown by Samira Craig
A gold ballgown designed by Samira Craig drew raves. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Bridget Fizer
Bridget Fizer designed the only outfit for a man, shown at left. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Jeff Shell, Linda Kuykendall
Jeff Shell and Linda Kuykendall. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Alan Gonzalez
Alan Gonzalez took a runway bow with model in his gray and black creation with a large hat that drew applause. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, model
Violet Navarro translated Habsburg inspiration into Gothic style. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Heather Petrey, Deborah Elias
Heather Petrey, left, and Deborah Elias. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Kenneth Grissom, Elina Hunt
Kenneth Grissom and Elina Hunt. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, model
Christian Lee's two-piece suit with lace trim took third place.   Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Max The Knight and Karina Barbieri
Max The Knight and Karina Barbieri Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, DJ Sun
DJ Sun provided cool music for the runway show. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, runway
The Museum of Fine Arts Cullinan Hall was jammed for the runway show. Photo by Morris Malakoff
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, feather dress by Jean Weber
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Melanie Campbell, Karina Barbieri, Parissa Mohajer
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, red gown by Teresa Rangel second place
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Roland Maldonado, Miya Shay, Edward Sanchez, Jessica Rossman
ouston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, leather fur coat by Judi Hallenbeck
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, winner Christian Lee
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, black gown by Christian Lee first place
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Kisa Williams, Terrica Preston
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Alfredo Saucedo
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Alexie Jones, Marsha McClemmon
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, modelbeige/gold gown by Samira Craig
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Bridget Fizer
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Jeff Shell, Linda Kuykendall
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Alan Gonzalez
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, model
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Heather Petrey, Deborah Elias
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Kenneth Grissom, Elina Hunt
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, model
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, Max The Knight and Karina Barbieri
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, DJ Sun
Houston, Fashion Fusion, June 2015, runway

It's been a long time since the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston has hosted a fashion show, but when officials did, with Fashion Fusion: Viennese Splendor meets HCC Couture, it happened in a big way.

A mix of socialites and fashion-forward millennials jammed Cullinan Hall for a runway show by Houston Community College fashion design students who envisioned styles inspired by the MFAH's blockbuster exhibition, Habsburg Splendor.

It had all the ingredients of a major New York fashion show: A buzzy standing-room only crowd, social swells clamoring for seats and cutting-edge fashion presented in a unique way.

It had all the ingredients of a major New York fashion show: A buzzy standing-room only crowd, social swells clamoring for seats and cutting-edge fashion presented in a unique way.

"You are our kind of people," MFAH director Gary Tinterow told the crowd in opening remarks, alluding to the young fashion-forward audience who don't necessarily frequent the museum on a regular basis but who are increasingly becoming a target among Houston arts organizations.

The designers were encouraged to think outside the box in devising new ways to link the styles of Europe's longest-reigning dynasty with today's modern way of dressing. They scored big with delightful creations that alluded to the Habsburg traditions in looks that can easily be worn today. 

The ensembles included hunting outfits with a Ralph Lauren vibe, daytime suits that exuded a tinge of film noir, feathered creations and big ball gowns perfect for a museum ball.

Mile-high hair

Tamara Klosz Bonar, the fashion show's producer, styled it in an oversized way, with creative makeup by Edward Sanchez and hairstyles by Tre Spa. Some models sported mile-high hair in a Marie Antoinette style while others had one long blond pigtail a la Heidi. Antlers decorated hunting ensembles and feathers adorned headdresses in spectacular style.

Judges Fady Armanious, creative director of Tootsies, which sponsored the event, MFAH curator of European art Helga Aurisch, and I individually judged the winners, and by all accounts, the scores were really close.

 Christian Lee took top prize with an expertly constructed black lace satin gown with big hoop shirt and exposed back. 

Christian Le took top prize with an expertly constructed black lace satin gown with big hoop skirt and exposed back. Le also took third place for a striking two-piece green suit trimmed in black lace. Teresa  Rangel placed a close second with a gorgeous blood red mullet gown cut short at the front and long at the back, with detailing at the hips. 

Samira Craig's gold ballgown with a big skirt drew raves, while Alfredo Saucedo created two eye-catching cocktail dresses, one with a queenly sash and brooch, and another with a feathered skirt. Judi Hallenback showed her versatility as a designer with a cobalt blue gown featuring intricate embroidery and a leather-and-fur coat with an outdoorsy hunting theme.

Violet Navarro's gothic gown with exposed shoulders and outer corset complemented Bridget Fizer's denim coat with metal detailing, black cape and shorts — the only outfit in the show designed for a man.

Among those enjoying the show were MFAH programs specialist Kelley Magill, who interviewed each designer while the votes were being tallied, MFAH general manager of special events Linda Kuykendall, who spearheaded the project before leaving for a new job with Memorial Hermann, Suzette Brimmer, chair of HCC's Lifestyle, Arts & Design programs, and her predecessor, Kay King.

Also spotted in the throng were the always stylish Karina Barbieri in a print Roberto Cavalli jumpsuit with a tassel at the derriere (the Italian designer's nod to horses), Vivian Wise and Sergio Morales, Kevin Black and Tony Bradfield, Jessica Rossman, Deborah Elias, Jeff Shell, Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall,  Miya Shay, Suzy Simons, Dr. Roland Maldonado, Neal Hamil and fashion blogger Heather Petrey.