Houston's fashion faithful turned out for the fourth annual Little Black Dress Project at House of Blues Tuesday night. After gathering in the club's Foundation Room for drinks and loud conversation (the decibel level was deafening), the crowd of around 200 entered the Bronze Peacock Room for a full-scale fashion show featuring the top 10 finalists.
More then 30 aspiring designers from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma entered the contest. Their assignment from Jeff Shell, director of the Neal Hamil Agency and creator of the "LBD Project: Create your vision for the little black dress."
Their assignment from Jeff Shell, director of the Neal Hamil Agency and creator of the LBD Project: Create your vision for the little black dress.
A select committee narrowed the entries to 16 and a panel of judges, which I was honored to be part of, selected favorites on a point system, ranking the dresses for creativity, saleability and style. None of the judges knew the outcome until Shell announced the winners.
"We can all share in the love for fashion and emerging designers," he told the audience before the show began.
The front row notables included event chairs Leisa Holland-Nelson, looking like Anna Wintour in designer sunglasses, Vicki Rizzo and Linda Kuykendall, who revealed a hidden talent. Kuykendall did the voice-overs for a video which introduced the designers and judges. Friends were surprised at hearing her sultry voice.
Also on hand were Jessie Mann of Freeway Films, who created the videos of the contestants and judges; Collin Kelly, who assisted Mann; Leah Cast, who conducted the interviews; and Vision Productions' Terry Berry and Erica Garza, who produced the runway show.
Seen in the crowd: Jared Lang, Ed Smith, Shannon Hall, Rebecca Spera, Miya Shay, Kim Padgett, stylist Dawn Bell Houston Community College fashion instructor Alex Chapman, and Momentum marketing director Diane Caplan (Momentum Porsche was the show's sponsor). Caplan was so impressed with the creations that after the show ended she gave her card to designer Chanel Latouche because she wants to purchase the dress Latouche designed.
Other front row stars included celebrity judges Edward Sanchez, Elaine Turner, Chloe Dao, Neiman Marcus' Stacey Swift, Saks' Albert Rubio, Tootsies' Christine Goins, Roz Pactor, Kate Allen Stukenberg and fashion show producers Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Bonar.
At the after party, guests and models celebrated late into the evening, even though it was a school night. The highlight occured when Shell appeared as the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn to celebrate a job well done.
Click here to see runway photos, a super runway video of the action and of the winners by CultureMap ace Joel Luks.