The two sides of Houston fashion week: Glam & casual
Day Two of Fashion Houston at the Wortham Theater Center Tuesday night had a split personality, with styles ranging from ultra-glamorous to super casual.
On the glam side, Net-A-Porter sent out dozens of luxe looks for the first runway show the upscale website has ever staged. Among the designer names: Alexander McQueen, Roland Mouret, Balmain, Alberta Ferretti, Judith Leiber, Jimmy Choo — and that was just the start.
Fashion-forward women in the audience, like Joyce Echols, Melissa Mithoff, Diane Farb and Debbie Festari, were lusting over the footwear — YSL pumps with wisps of fur trailing from the heels, Alaia lace-up boots, towering gold Versace sandals, Christian Louboutin black boots, and Valentino sandals dotted with bows.
Isabell Marant leggings of scaly sequins, a Vionnet black velvet dress trimmed in a white underside, and show-stopping entrance gowns from Kaufman Franco, Jason Wu, Roberto Cavalli and Rachel Gilbert practically shouted, "Look at me!"
On the other end of the spectrum, the models wearing Lauren Bush's Lauren Pierce Atelier collection didn't bother with shoes. They strolled the runway in bare feet, wearing colorful tie-dye skirts and soft beige T-shirts, tie-dye dresses, and beige dresses adorned with colorful scarves while her adoring family, including her grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush, dad Neil Bush, brother Pierce Bush and stepmom Maria Bush, looked on with pride from the front row.
"It's a family affair," Lauren Bush said backstage after the show.
She was excited to present her collection on the runway for the first time. "We've done a presentation before, but not a full-on show. It's sort of a new way to see your clothes, which is nice," she said.
In 2006, she began designing an eco-friendly, burlap bag, called FEED, with proceeds going to feed hungry children in schools. She recently added a FEED Trick-or-Treat bag, in the shape of a pumpkin face, that sells for $13.20 on HSN and benefits UNICEF hunger programs. The proceeds from each bag sold wlll feed a starving child micronutrient powder for one year, she said.
The Lauren Pierce collection is also made in an environmentally sensitive, socially conscious way, with silk fabric dyed by women in the Congo, so no two designs are alike.
"It makes it extra meaningful," Bush said.
During the show, I couldn't help but look over at the designer's grandmother, who held held own among the fashionistas in a navy sweater, creme-colored slacks, black ballet flats and her trademark pearls. The former first lady should be commended for her strong sense of personal style. And she's also a proud grandmother. At one point, she pulled a camera out of her small purse and snapped photos of her granddaughter's collection.
Like Lauren Bush, Lela Rose also now calls New York home. And like Bush, the Dallas native made a quick trip to the Bayou City just to show her spring 2011 collection at Houston fashion week.
"I'm from Texas originally, so it's always nice to come home," she said.
Unlike Bush, however, Rose is a New York fashion week veteran, with a regular slot on the first Sunday in the twice-a-year fashion extravaganza.
Rose's collection, which I saw in New York last month, was inspired by the surroundings of Lima, Peru, which shows up in such touches as woven metallic tweeds, embroidered tulle cutouts, shimmering ombre fabrics, and bright colors.
Most designers won't pick a favorite look — they say it's like choosing a favorite child — but In between catching up with longtime friend, Tootsies owner Mickey Rosmarin, backstage after her show, Rose said her favorite look is the last one in the collection: An ombre full-length skirt with jeweled bustier.
"It's sheer fantasy," she said.
I had to agree — the dress is a stunner — although the overall presentation of Rose's collection lacked the zip of the New York show because the Houston models walked so slow. One of my few complaints thus far about Houston fashion week is that the models walk in a stupor, like they are on Valium, at nearly every show.
Rose and Rosemarin joked that perhaps it represents the pace of both cities.
"Here it's strolling, because it's calmer," Rose said. "In New York, it's speed walking."
Also on tap Tuesday night, Houston designer David Peck teamed with Houston accessories queen Elaine Turner for a strong show inspired by colorful photographs and impressionist paintings. Several of Peck's designs were a tribute to pointillism, where a bunch of tiny dots form a picture. Dresses in block shift patterns matched pumps made of the same fabric for a polished look.