Fashion Houston is growing up. In its fourth year, the fashion extravaganza will feature a record 18 designers, each of whom will showcase their spring and resort 2014 collections on a long runway in the foyer of the Wortham Center Tuesday through Friday nights. This year's edition has a contemporary theme, as many of the designers are focused on a younger, fashion-forward audience.
"We have a lot of diversity in this line-up," says Fashion Houston founder and CEO Jared Lang. "The level of talent is amazing."
Houston designer David Peck, who will be showing his collection Wednesday night, notes the lineup is "a lot more 'indie' — young talent doing interesting things. It's great for those kind of designers to get exposure in Houston because it's such a great market. Houston can do great things for their business."
Unlike New York fashion week, which shows outfits that can't be purchased for several months, and fashion weeks in other cities, which highlight local designers almost exclusively, the name of the game at Fashion Houston is to sell clothes now.
Most of the big-name designers are being sponsored by Houston stores. Neiman Marcus, which has been a big booster of Fashion Houston since it began in 2010, will bring in five designers —Nicole Miller, Zachary Prell, Rebecca Taylor, Talbot Runhof, and Peter Millar designer Chris Knott— all of whom will make personal appearances at the Galleria store. The luxury retailer is also showcasing a sixth designer, Wes Gordon, who will close Fashion Houston Friday night.
Tootsies is hosting Catherine Deane, Haute Hippie designer Trish Wescoat Pound, Yigal Azrouel, David Peck and emerging designer Amir Taghi, while Elizabeth Anthony Esther Wolf will feature Bibhu Mohapatra and Rolondo Santana. Sloan Hall is introducing Marlos Schwab and Casa de Novia is showcasing Johanna Johnson. All of the designers will hold trunk shows at the respective stores. (Check this week's CultureMap Events Calendar for day and times.)
The Houston presence comes from established designers Peck and Chloe Dao, who will showcase their collections on Wednesday night and young designers Taghi, Viet Kent Nguyen and Jo'se Reyes, who will debut their collections Tuesday night.
"It's always been our original business plan to involve Houstonians as much as possible, whether as sponsors or designers," Lang said. "Certainly there's more talent to be showcased."
The Houston Designed Task Force, a nonprofit group touting Houston designers, plans to launch a website during Fashion Houston. "There are people here doing creative things but there's very little connection between the businesses. But hopefully that's one thing Houston Designed can do to connect those people," Peck says.
For this edition of Fashion Houston, all activities are moving inside the Wortham Center, including an after-party in the Founder's Room, called the Proof Lounge, sponsored by Proof Bar. New sponsors include I.W. Marks Jewelers, which is sponsoring The Green Room, where designer interviews will take place, and Houston-based hair-care company Farouk Systems.
Organizers have also scheduled a full slate of runway shows on Friday night for the first time (in previous seasons, Fashion Houston ended on Thursday night.) Lang is hopeful that the weekend night will attract fashion lovers from the suburbs who might not be inclined to drive to the downtown venue on a weeknight.
"We are going to rock it," he says.
A full schedule of designers is available on the Fashion Houston website. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. each night; shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 - $274; tickets for after-party $35 Tuesday and Wednesday, $50 Thursday and Friday. Call 832-487-7041 for information.