The energy is palpable on the Audi Fashion Houston runway and beyond, but sometimes the most exciting moments are behind-the-scenes and unplanned.
Kicking Up Some Runway Drama
Marc Bouwer’s show was full of fast-walking models in dresses with strong shoulders and lots of attitude, but one of the absolute highlights was model Pam Green’s rebellion against her impossibly high heels. Half-way down the runway and in mid-strut she kissed her kicks goodbye and never missed a beat.
“I did not want to ruin that beautiful dress. I knew the minute I turned the corner the shoes were slipping so I stepped out of them and tried to rock it,” Green said.
She was rewarded with huge cheers, but she never cracked a smile. Green was worried about disappointing Bouwer, but she needn’t have stressed.
“He told me there’s always drama on the runway and it was all good,” Green said.
Toni Whitaker’s Wake-Up Call
While most of us were still sleeping in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning, Toni Whitaker was up and hand painting pieces from her Fashion Houston collection. A last-minute change to the very same collection she would send down the runway just 12 hours later.
“I thought it looked like department store clothing—nice department store clothes, but it just wasn’t me,” Whitaker said. “I needed that 'wow' effect and once I did, it felt like me. I won’t send anything down the runway unless I love it.”
Her Old Hollywood collection was infused with bright yellow, magenta and just enough flounce, making many of the pieces pop.
Six Degrees of Project Runway
Over the four days of Fashion Houston, three Project Runway winners have shown their spring collections and one Project Runway model winner has walked in them all. Chloe Dao won Season Two, Christian Siriano won Season Four and Irina Shabayeva and model Kalyn Hemphill won Season Six.
Hemphill, who hails from Lake Jackson and could quite possibly be one the nicest and tallest women on the planet, definitely had the elusive "it" factor on the runway. Besides working together on Project Runway, Shabayeva and Hemphill are neighbors in New York and see each other frequently. The Texas native hoped to squeeze in a little local flavor while the women are in Houston.
“I should take her for a Mexican breakfast,” Hemphill said. “That would be good.”
For a second look at Shabayeva’s collection and the opportunity to buy, check out Tootsies. The store just picked up her line.
Many of us were still on a fashion high after Net-A-Porter’s spectacular presentation Tuesday night. The luxury e-tailer engaged crowds once again Wednesday night, except this time it was in the Audi VIP Lounge and the clothes, shoes and accessories were on rolling racks instead of the runway. It was part of an appreciation event the company holds periodically for its best customers and in between chatter and champagne, the serious business of shopping was at hand.
Even if the things I really loved were more than my mortgage, dreaming and doing a little online styling is still loads of fun. I set up shop in front of one of six laptops brought in for the event and go to clicking. I'm still in mourning over a blue crocodile hobo bag stolen five years ago and always look for a worthy replacement. There were plenty of gorgeous bags by Versace, Fendi, Bottega Veneta and Chloe, but nothing quite right.
Next stop, dresses, a staple in my closet for their versatility and ease. Net-A-Porter is a designer luxury shopping site, which can be tricky for those of us nowhere close to a sample size, but I was happy to come across Diane von Furstenburg, DKNY and Tibi dresses that matched my size, style and even my budget.
Net-A-Porter is based in London but has offices in New York and both cities are warehouse hubs for their global shoppers, so if I was to order something from the site, it would likely arrive the same or next day. Each item on the site comes with some quick stylist tips, but there are also fashion advisors available who respond in 24 hours or less.
My favorite part of the site is under the "Boutiques" heading. Vacation, workwear, essentials, denim and wedding allow shoppers to specify their exact wardrobing needs and then pull together looks. So, if I were going on a quick trip to Mexico, I could specify my needs and the site pulls together a wardrobe for me.
There's also an iPad app that changes the weekly content automatically. The site gets hundreds of new pieces each Monday, Wednesday and Friday and holds its big sale in January and July.