With the temperature falling below 40 degrees for the first time this fall, the fur was flyin' on the first night of Fashion Houston. "It's cold out," said Tootsies creative director Fady Armanious, who was swathed in a Plein Sud green fur jacket, Givenchy slacks and Prada loafers. "If you can't wear (a fur) now, you're not going to wear it."
The red carpet on Fish Plaza leading up to the entrance to the Wortham Center Tuesday night was filled with stylish fur (and faux fur)-clad fashionistas, including Todd Ramos in a jacket trimmed in a gray fur, Ruchi Mukerjee in an Alice + Oliva rabbit vest, Chris Goins in a Rebecca Taylor faux fur ombre jacket, and Joyce Echols in a black fur jacket. "I'm so happy," Echols marveled at the cooler weather. "I hope it's cold inside, so I don't have to take it off."
Houston's fourth annual fashion extravaganza provided the opportunity for supporters to strut their stuff. Amid the fur-clad crowd, Yasmine Haddad braved the cold in a glittery pair of gold slacks and blouse from Houston designer Jonathan Blake. "This event gives us the opportunity to support our local designers," she said.
Haddad said Fashion Houston "brings attention to our city. It proves that we don't just have the medical center and great restaurants, we have an appreciation of art and a sense of style that reflects on the international sensibility of our city."
While it was cold outside, on the runway the looks were aimed at warmer weather, with resort and spring 2014 collections that exuded a cutting-edge sensibility.
While it was chilly outside, the looks on the runway were aimed at warmer weather, with resort and spring 2014 collections that exuded a cutting-edge sensibility. London-based designer Marios Schwab kicked the evening off with an edgy collection that featured body hugging dresses in airbrush patterns or shredded with indigo-dyed denim, sheer gowns with sequin underlays, and a series of striking white gowns with semi-precious stones cascading down the back.
Schawab, who will make a personal appearance at Sloan/Hall Wednesday from 2 to 5 p.m., said he enjoys mixing soft looks with a harder edge. And he's also sensible — he sent models out in thick sandals, which showed he's not a masochist like many designers, who make their models wobble in sky-high stilettos.
South African-born designer Catherine Deane followed with a collection that showed a return to her roots. A recent move from Hong Kong to London, where she had studied fashion design and started the collection, resulted in a more feminine lineup featuring subdued colors with intricate beading. "It was a feeling like I was coming home to a familiar place," she said.
Each model's hair was swept aside to show glittery back detail of gowns and dresses, a growing hallmark of a Deane design. One gown, with rhinestone back detail worn by Houston model Yuan Yuan Zhang, drew applause from the audience.
"We are getting such a good response to putting that special love and attention on the back of the dress," said Deane, who will make a personal appearance at Tootsies on Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m.
The design duo of Johnny Talbot and Adrian Runhof closed the evening with a strong collection of black and white geometric prints (they call it "white and black"), sometimes mixed with jacquards, tweeds with hologram foil flowers, dresses with capes lined in contrasting colors, and a Catwoman-like black stretch leather gown that will have everyone purring. While the gowns were edgy, they were also practical, as most had pockets.
"Men have pockets," Talbot said. "Why not women?"
While the established designers all said they enjoyed taking part in Fashion Houston, no one was as thrilled as three young designers who showed their collections for the first time in such a large arena. Emerging designers Viet Kent Nguyen, Amir Taghi and Jo'se Reyes each unveiled about 15 looks and received warm applause.
"It's really exciting because this is my first time for the big, big show," said Nguyen, who showed a collection featuring pop-up 3-D swirls on shoulders of jackets and in strategic places on dresses. "Hopefully, everybody liked it."
Also spotted in the crowd were Sonia Azad, Edward Sanchez, George Lancaster, Karina Barbieri, Kay King, Mary Ann and David McKeithan, Kalon McMahon, Monsour Taghdisi and Henry Richardson, Suzette Brimmer, Roland Maldonado and Jeff Shell.