While Fashion Houston brings in top New York designers for its annual extravaganza, it traditionally holds a spot each evening for an up-and-coming Houston designer. The first slot for the four-night event that kicked off Monday at the Wortham Center went to Jerri Moore, a little-known local designer who only recently burst on the scene.
She made the most of her moment.
Moore's colorful show featured mostly evening attire from her fall 2011 and spring 2012 collections. Spectators applauded many of the 31 looks as each model walked down the runway — a real no no in New York, where no one dare claps until the end of the show, but accepted practice in Houston. If Texans like something, they're not going to sit on their hands.
Spectators applauded many of the 31 looks as each model walked down the runway — a real no no in New York, where no one dares clap until the end of the show, but accepted practice in Houston. If Texans like something, they're not going to sit on their hands.
Moore specializes almost exclusively in evening wear, all made in Houston, although she mixed in a few daytime looks, including a sleeveless yellow lace sheath and a pink satin number with a full skirt and cinched waist.
Gowns in bold colors of red, orange and yellow dominated, while a number of understated champagne-hued gowns, some featuring long skirts and sequined tops, drew approving nods from front row regulars Lucinda Loya, Elizabeth Petersen and Diane Lokey Farb.
Moore had recently previewed much of the collection at the CultureMap offices, so I was surprised to see a couple of flashier looks on the Fashion Houston runway, including a long-sleeved black sequined mini-dress and the closing showstopper — a model in sequined silver V-neck top and long taffeta ball skirt dropped the skirt midway down the runway to reveal sequined hot pants.
Frankly, I didn't realize Moore had such a mischievious streak. "It was a little magic that I pulled out," she explained afterwards.
The show was a polished first effort and a signal that Moore has a promising future.
"I feel like I'm on top of the world," she said, while receiving congratulations from wellwishers. "This is my first runway show. It's everything I dreamed about — and more, no pun intended."
But, she admitted, she was never really that nervous. "Fashion Houston made it easy. They held my hand every step of the way," she said.
Barbara Tfank: A hair-raising collection
As I wrote about in a Fashion Houston preview, Barbara Tfank has a thing for Liz Taylor. Her spring 2012 collection is a homage to the iconic actress, with fitted dresses that hug the body and ooze sex appeal. Just as she did in New York, Tfank showcased her collection in Houston with models in Taylor-like wigs and it was was great fun seeing longtime Houston model Yuan Yuan Zhang as a convincing Asian Liz Taylor in her primal prime.
Some of the other models, with their wigs slightly askew, looked more like Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? than Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but the overall effect enhanced Tfank's sexy styles. And the eyepopping Bulgari jewelry that accessorized just about every outfit was Tayloriffic.
"My favorite quote is, 'Richard Burton said, 'I taught Liz Guiness; she taught me Bulgari'," Tfank recalled after the show.
Over the weekend the designer hung out with Fashion Houston creative director Neal Hamil and fashion manufacturer Gregory Fourticq, who is trying to convice her to move production of her line to Houston. Tfank said she likes the feel of the city.
"Everyone in the world seems so jaded, but people here seem to be having fun," she said.
Douglas Hannant: Shanghai surprise
Douglas Hannant looked to Shanghai in the 1930s for inspiration for his terrific spring/summer 2012 collection, which closed the first night of Fashion Houston. But he didn't take it literally.
"You don't see Chinoiserie in the collection. That wasn't the purpose," he explained. "There are little details but done in a very subtle way. You see a lot of embroidered laces, very delicate fabrics, cotton tulle, details of buttons down the side of a pant, that kind of thing. It brings the flavor and interest to the collection but aestheically I wanted it to be a romantic season."
In a stroke of genius, the models' messy-high hair perfectly offset Hannant's exquisite detailing.
While the recession has sent some designers back to basics, Hannant is having none it. "My customer wants something special. She doesn't want something ordinary," he said. "She has the basics. She has a closet full of them. My customer would rather buy something special."
But he recently debuted a lower priced collection, called Douglas Hannant Pink, which ranges in price from a $75 blouse to a $700 dress, to appeal to a new customer as well as his loyal clientele who is looking for something less formal to wear.
"The idea behind it is much more casual, much more easy and less precious than my main collection," he said.