The third night of Fashion Houston lived up to its name, celebrating two of the city's favorite fashion lights, Chloe Dao and David Peck. Designers Rolando Santana and Yigal Azrouel also impressed the sold-out crowd at the Wortham Theater Thursday, but it was the Dao and Peck who drew applause and genuine appreciation for building successful fashion brands in Houston rather than picking up and moving to New York.
As much as the night was about fashion, it was also a reminder of why Houston is an unlikely and yet completely successful city to launch legitimate fashion lines, create an annual fashion event and start a larger industry movement, focusing on local manufacturing and mindful business practices.
The Wortham lobby was packed much of the night too, as fans of both Houston designers eagerly awaited their collections.
As night was also a reminder of why Houston is an unlikely and yet completely successful city to create an annual fashion event and start a larger industry movement.
Santana, the Mexican-born designer who designs in New York, kicked off the evening's sunny tone with a well-received collection full of white, yellow and more florals. His models mixed a small side braid with an up do and a bun for a messy, but ladylike look that worked with the pieces he sent down the runway.
It was his first time to show in Houston, but he clearly had his fingers on the style pulse of the city’s women. The wearable collection is perfect for luncheons, weddings, parties and he takes special care to add buckles, fringe and bell sleeves to pieces that otherwise may be a little too sweet.
Santana is at Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf Friday for a personal appearance.
Dao continued building on the upbeat mood, opening her show with two models hand-in-hand happily making their way down the catwalk. A little air kiss, a smile and daaahling, the show was on, but there wasn’t anything stuffy about her collection.
Rather than send out ball gowns and overly worked pieces just for the benefit of a fashion show, Dao’s spring 2014 is easy, colorful without being too bold and, like Dao herself, fun.
“I wanted to go casual. It’s a trend, kind of a dolce vita feel, like you are going on a holiday,” Dao said.
Every single maxi she sent out was an immediate crowd-pleaser and a dress coat in various prints was also a favorite. Dao is always good about focusing on a woman’s best attributes, but she paid special attention to the back of her dresses, exposing skin, but adding ruffles or an interesting angle.
And, as the runway keeps proving, cutouts and crop tops are here for another season. Dao paired bow bandeau tops with pencil skirts or long maxi skirts or a pencil skirts with a more demure top with just a bit of mid-drift peeking out.
“Our clients travel and we want them to have pieces that are chic, but have a bit of a European sensibility to them,” Dao said.
“Our clients travel and we want them to have pieces that are chic, but have a bit of a European sensibility to them,” Dao said. She and her collection will be in her Rice Village boutique Friday and Saturday.
Many of Peck’s fans have seen his jewel-toned fall collection inspired by classic movies such as To Kill a Mockingbird, but he started the show with it anyway and the crowd certainly didn’t mind.
“I wanted to show what was current so you could see it now, buy it now. What other fashion show can you do that?” Peck said.
His clothes are polished, feminine and strong, and his models reflected that vibe with beautiful bouncy curls, a red lip and just a hint of daring with a bit of teal lining just under the eyebrow for an electric pop.
Pencil skirts, form-fitting dresses and separates kicked off the show, and Peck’s models carried a mix of bags by another local designer, Elaine Turner.
He turned the corner on fall though and veered into spring, sending just a few pieces out. The appearance of cocktail bridesmaids dresses, a breathtaking soft pink ball gown style wedding dress and a highly structured wedding gown set the scene for something a bit different.
While the Beatles “All You Need is Love” played, bridesmaids dropped rose petals and the cutest little flower girl walked the runway to highlight another avenue of Peck’s burgeoning business.
“I wanted to show custom and bridal work because I want people to know how we directly connect with the consumer,” Peck said.
It’s just one of his ways to change the fashion conversation in the city and he left the entire room on their feet and in tears at the end of his show when every person who works with him walked down the runway with a model. Dressed in short white lab coats emblazoned with his name on it, they filled the runway in an emotional and truly uplifting moment that was about so much more than fashion.
“I wanted the whole team to be here and see the end result of what they are doing,” Peck said. “I found out tonight that one of the production team has never ridden on an escalator before. I wanted them to see other side and see just how supportive Houston is.”
The evening could have capped off right there and everyone would have gone home happy, but Azrouel, the popular Israeli American New York-based fashion designer, closed out the show with a beautifully constructed but subdued black-and-white collection.
“I always keep in mind how she can look her best without trying too hard. I like the details that play with masculine and feminine, but aren’t too shocking,” he said.
Fashion Houston ends Friday with collections by Johanna Johnson, Zachary Prell, Haute Hippie and Wes Gordon.