Many designers are in a state of panic before a runway show. But with less than an hour before her Fashion Houston show was set to begin last week, Chloe Dao seemed cool, calm and collected as she mingled with guests in the Audi Fashion Tent in Fish Plaza.
As fans of Season Two of Project Runway recall, Dao remains unruffled in even the thorniest of situations. (She developed a national following after winning the competition in 2005 and has continued with projects on QVC as well as her subsequent collections at Lot 8, her Rice Village boutique.)
That same bright, easygoing feeling permeates Dao's spring/summer 2012 collection, which is characterized by a riot of color.
That same bright, easygoing feeling permeates Dao's spring/summer 2012 collection, which is characterized by a riot of color. Dao's entire collection is a paean to bright hues, with colorblock dresses in bright shades of tangerine and blue, Aztec prints and kaleidoscope chiffons.
Some of the prints are different color combinations stitched together into one piece of fabric. Each look was accessorized with bright Elaine Turner handbags and shoes.
"It's bold and bright and very colorful. I think it's the most colorful collection I've ever done. It's the most amount of prints I've ever done," she said.
CultureMap: Why have you discovered color?
Chloe Dao: I think I'm more fearless. I've stepped out of my comfort zone. I'm using fabric I don't normally use. Usually I'm more (into) eveningwear (made of) silk chiffon, silk charmeuse. It's only a quarter percent of the collection this time. I'm piecing together different prints. I'm spreading my own fabriciation my own way. Just stepping out.
I think it's very on trend because color has been in the vocabulary for a while. I just want people to be happy, you know what I mean? Put on some color and you'll be happy, no matter what.
CM: How was it working with Elaine Turner?
CM: Have you worked together before?
CD: No we haven't. We had always been speaking about it.
I think Anya got really lucky because she's so damn pretty. She's talented but she should have been elimated a few times.
CM: You both are such great examples of being able to stay in Houston and make it in the fashion business.
CD: We're working girls and we're working it. It's important to show that you don't have to fly off somewhere to be successful. I look up to Elaine for how successful she has been. She's truely the entrepreneur. I want to be like her, to be at her level of success.
CM: Has married life changed your design sensibilities? (Dao recently married Kenneth Pursley in a Bahamas beach wedding)
CD: You should ask my husband (laughs). That's a great question. We've been together for six years, so I kind of don't care anymore. I'm with a man who loves me for who I am.
CM: Do you watch Project Runway or are you over it?
CD: I do try to watch this season. I do try to watch every season, but then I get sick of it. So now I just read it on Tom & Lorenzo because I just can't embrace some of the designers. They're going to hate me for that but I'm just going to be honest.
CM: Do you really believe Anya just started sewing four months ago (before the season began)?
CD: I believe her because the stuff she made was obvious. You can tell when someone has skill. She's done very very simple pieces. People who have real skill, it's much more complicated.
I hope next year there are more local designers besides me and Cesar. There are so many amazing young designers here (in Houston).
CM: What are your thoughts about Fashion Houston?
CD: I think it's better (than last year). It's more organized, too. And I think it's really nice that they're bringing in other very well-established New York designers. I hope next year there are more local designers besides me and Cesar. There are so many amazing young designers here. I work with HCC and the Art Institute. There's an immense amount of talent in this city and hopefully we embrace them a little bit more next year.
I think its nice that they can see through me that you can stay in Houston and be successful. You define your own success not about being in New York or LA, it's being where you want to be and being happy about it. And it's the fourth largest city in the U.S., so come on people!