After the summer from hell, Theresa Roemer is looking forward to a fashionable fall.
Still dealing with the worldwide attention over the theft of designer goods from her three-story closet and the burglar's attempts to blackmail her, insisting they were fakes (the stories appeared everywhere from the London Daily Mail to the Today show), Roemer has been concentrating on creating a new namesake fashion line that exudes a breezy California style.
"She's not trying to be the next Marchesa. She's specific about practical looks that you can wear. "
On a recent day, her Woodlands mansion looked like a fashion set, with a photographer, model, stylists and her collaborator, Houston fashion guru David Peck, furiously at work to the beat of Rihanna and "Rude." They paired the 47 pieces of the new Theresa Roemer collection with accessories from her closet — despite the thief's efforts, there are still lots of designer shoes, handbags, jewelry and belts in the massive space, which in person has the feel of a small, luxurious townhome — for a look book showcasing multiple styles.
"I've always have felt like my fashion has been different from women in Houston; I don't know if it's because I'm from the west coast or what," Roemer said. "Even though I live in Houston I want to have my California look here and I couldn't never really find it. So I got with David and I said, 'Why can't I just have my own line?' And he said, 'You can.' "
Roemer, who worked in the fitness business for 30 years, at first wanted to create an activewear line. But when she found the start-up costs prohibitive, she switched to a more-accessible sportswear collection with greater appeal to a wider audience.
It includes form-fitting dresses and skirts, kicky maxi-dresses (one, called the "Palm Springs maxi" feels like pajamas), roomy palazzo pants and flowing tops, many with cutouts at the shoulders while covering the rest of the arms. "Almost every woman loves her shoulders but she hates her arms, so if we can cover up the arm but still give you that (sexy) look...a lot of people I want to cater to don't have the 18-year-old arm, they have the 50-year-old arm."
"I call it the adult Garanimal look. It's very basic but there are going to be amazing pieces to add to it every time."
The collection, which draws inspiration from Donna Karan's seven easy pieces and Michael Kors upscale travel attire, is made from wrinkle-free fabrics that travel well. "It's just really easy chic sportswear. It's very easy, simple pieces that you can mix and match," Peck says.
"She really had in mind the idea that she has a mobile lifestyle, not only traveling to other cities, but just being in the car so much from Houston to The Woodlands and needing clothes that are practical and last all day and transition from day to evening and really do that and not just say what they do. That's what it's about — simple but chic pieces."
The collection relies on neutral colors — gray, taupe, black and white, with a couple of styles in a black-and-white print TR logo featuring Roemer's initials that Peck developed with her. "The fabrics are good for a lot of different body types; that makes it easier to design. She's not trying to be the next Marchesa. She's specific about practical looks that you can wear," Peck says.
The collection, which is priced between $200 and $600, will debut at Fashion Woodlands, a one-night runway show on Sept. 25 featuring top Houston designers. It will be sold online, beginning the end of September, and at Roemer's Woodlands studio. She hopes to have it carried in local specialty shops and big department stores.
"Remember Garanimals, that line for kids? That's what we feel like this is because I've always felt the most stressful part of a woman's day is when she gets up and thinks what am I going to wear? It's the toughest decision she's got the whole day, so I'm going to make it easy for her," Roemer said. "It's going to be mix and match. So I call it the adult Garanimal look. It's very basic but there are going to be amazing pieces to add to it every time."
Peck describes his work relationship with Roemer as "very collaborative. She comes in with ideas and we help make them a reality."
But what is she like to work with? "It's really actually easy," Peck said. "She's very clear about what she wants. If she doesn't like something she's not afraid to tell you. It's very direct. That makes it really easy because you never have to guess whether it's something she is going to like. Having known her for a while, it was easy to know what she likes or does not like, so that made designing the whole thing easier."
"She is her first customer...she's starting with what she and her friends are looking for. Designing that makes it easy."