One of Fashion Houston’s strengths is drawing designers that resonate with local fashion audiences. Houston women like pretty, but with a bit of edge or detailing that sets them apart, and the third night of Fashion Houston showed collections by Bibhu Mohapatra, Rebecca Minkoff, Jio’zei Reyes, Rolando Santana and Chloe Dao that beautifully struck that balance.
Fashion Houston itself also hit all the right notes Thursday. The night was energetic and timely, and the audience was only too happy to cheer for its favorite looks and designers.
"I always feel so loved when I’m here, and who doesn’t want to be loved?"
Mohapatra has become a Fashion Houston favorite and considers the annual event a homecoming of sorts. His spring 2015 collection marries strong geometric patterns with black, white, deep pink and florals.
“My work is appreciated here in Houston. I always feel so loved when I’m here, and who doesn’t want to be loved?” Mohapatra says.
The first look of the show is always his favorite, but he is interested in what his customers are drawn to.
“Women are looking for modernity, something that is special with a modern cool feel, but also has longevity,” Mohapatra says. He incorporated that element of freshness with a hand-woven leather technique done by artisans in Laos, dating back 1,500 years. He feels its moments like these that give his collection a specific voice.
Mohapatra put his editing skills to work just before the show, reworking the lineup since boxes of his gowns failed to show. While they will be available at Elizabeth Anthony Friday and Saturday, he showed just one gown, but says he felt the show was “very young and suited for day.”
It’s easy to see why Minkoff’s design aesthetic spans generations, but still manages to flow between edgy and boho, with just a hint of prep. Most of the models were accessorized with one of her bags and many sported fringe, adding extra movement to the look.
A crowd favorite, Minkoff took a wave on the runway wearing a floral maxi dress and a leather biker jacket, proving that when you are your own best customer, you know just what to send down the runway.
Houston designer Reyes collection was a study in structure. Strong shoulders, nipped-in waistlines and subdued hues of navy, burgundy, black and white dominated his collection. This was work-ready with an “I’m in charge,” attitude, and while some pieces are too fashion forward for an oil and gas company, they were interesting, especially as Reyes played with the shape of many dresses, opening up the bodices, creating an architectural feel.
After a stream of serious dresses and suits, the crowd winner was a flowing black gown, with an uneven hem and plunging neckline.
Santana’s collection was like a breath of fresh air, perfect for spring. Drawing inspiration from abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, Santana’s collection relied on shapes and lines, blending the hard edges with the soft hues of blue, green, white and lilac.
There were glimpses of '50s influences by way of silhouettes and wide-armed ladylike jackets over dresses, but the collection is modern, lovely and highly wearable.
Dao never sends moody models down the runway. She wants the models to reflect the pretty, elegant and playful clothes she designs and enjoy the process. The same could be said for the Fashion Houston audience Thursday. There were smiles all around as she started her collection with a long white gown that had all the iPhones clicking and posting.
Navy dominated the looks, which also incorporated red, pink and white. A self-proclaimed fabric hoarder, Dao pulled out an icy silver metallic fabric she’s had for a decade and realized now was the time to use it.
I’m noticing thigh slits are moving on up and defying gravity in ways even NASA isn’t prepared for.
She continued her spring trend of including maxi skirts with just enough of a slit to be flirty, as well as easy to wear short dresses for Houston’s interminable summers.
Her strapless floral print gown was an immediate crowd-pleaser, but I found myself partial to her take on stripes, pairing a black and white vertical-striped top with a horizontal-striped skirt.
“I call this my building block collection and designing clothes I want to wear,” Dao says. That makes two of us Chloe.
The great thing about trends is that you can pick and choose the ones that work the best for you and leave the rest to someone else. From our side of the runway, it looks like green is a spring must. From Naeem Khan’s liquid emerald gown to Santana’s glittering green gown with a light sheer duster, the color most associated with envy is getting all the attention. It’s a good thing then that it’s a universally flattering shade.
Spring also means lightening up and sheer fabrics. I’m still thinking about Paola Contreras’ Inclan collection and a sporty sheer hoodie she showed, but the light-as-air touch has been spotted in quite a few collections.
Consider this runway reality check a PSA. The thigh-high slit Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Versace gown at the Oscars was daring, leaving something to the imagination, but I’m noticing the thigh slits are moving on up and defying gravity in ways even NASA isn’t prepared for.
Showing off all your hard work at the gym? Yes. Showing off your recent wax appointment? Not unless that’s an actual swimsuit.