Talk about great timing.
On one of Houston's chilliest days of the year, the long, zig-zagging runway at the Saks Fifth Avenue Nutcracker Market Fashion Show was overflowing with a full range of furs from Carmen Marc Valvo guaranteed to provide the idea of warm comfort against the plunging temperatures.
Slinky gowns, glittery cocktail dresses and crisp slacks and sweater combos were accessorized with furs of all types, from full-length sable coats to mink vests and chinchilla jackets in a natural champagne color that had the audience of more than 1,400 — larger than some Texas towns — who were shoehorned into NRG Center buzzing with the urge to try one on.
"It's a huge collection," Valvo explained. "Some we make multiples of. Some we buy stock. Some are only one-of-a-kind. We do it (because) it's special, it's expensive, let's see what happens."
Emcee Deborah Duncan didn't want to take off the luxurious fur coat she showcased on stage, humorously begging Saks general manager Bobby Dees to work out a deal.
The first segment of the lavish runway show, which featured more than 60 looks styled by producers Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Klosz Bonar, had a languid tropical island attitude, in keeping with this year's "Nutcracker Market in Paradise" theme. Models in bright floral print caftans, print shirts and sleeveless dresses cruised the catwalk as the reggae tune, "I Like the Christmas Music" played.
Then it was onto a series of fashion vignettes as the fabulous furs were showcased with a full range of the store's designer styles, including an array of silver cocktail dresses for the grand finale.
Valvo recalled visiting Houston more than 16 years ago as a featured designer at one of the first Nutcracker Market fashion shows. "It was much more intimate. It was a rounder space less than half this size. That's when I met many of the Houston ladies," he said. "Now look what it has evolved into. It's amazing."
With a 10:30 a.m. start time, the event seemed more like a brunch, allowing guests to shop at the downstairs market before and after the runway festivities. A portion of the large audience already had overflowing shopping bags at their tables, while others appeared itching to do some power shopping as soon as the fashion show ended. Leading the throng were luncheon chairs Jo Furr and Vicki Kanaly and Market chair Cecilia Campbell.
Spotted in the big crowd were Lynda Transier, Kristy Bradshaw, Beth Muecke, Sharon Erskine, Sheree Frede, Tua Burke, C.C. Conner, Jim Furr, Karen Hartnett, Peggy Burke, Cynthe Hughes and Julie Pincus.