Fall for Fashion 2011
Fashion Houston 2011

Fashion Houston roundup: Carmen Marc Valvo (alas, with no Dolly), Kate Kills Pretty and Saks menswear

Fashion Houston roundup: Carmen Marc Valvo (alas, with no Dolly), Kate Kills Pretty and Saks menswear

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Carmen Marc Valvo Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
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Carmen Marc Valvo's spring/summer 2012 collection has a languid summer feel. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
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Kate Kills Pretty designers Toni Whitaker, middle, and Aries Milan, far right, with Lauren Craft, left. Craft designed the jewelry that was incorporated into the collection. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
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Kate Kills Pretty's eclectic collection includes this fringe skirt and navel plunging top Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
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Saks menswear show was too darn hot. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
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There were rumors that Dolly Parton, who was performing across the street from Fashion Houston Tuesday night, might slip in to watch the Carmen Marc Valvo show after she finished at Verizon Wireless Theater. Alas, the buxom singer never made it over, but we're betting she would have liked what was shown on the runway.

Sure, Valvo's spring/summer 2012 collection may not be as flashy as what Parton usually wears, but he knows how to accentuate a woman's figure, hide her flaws and show her in the best light.

 Sure, Valvo's spring/summer 2011 collection may not be as flashy as what Dolly Parton usually wears, but he knows how to accentuate a woman's figure, hide her flaws and show her in the best light. 

Valvo, who regularly dresses such celebs as Vanessa Williams and Queen Latifah for the red carpet, is in a languid, almost carefree mood, with a collection he describes as "all very America, easy, breezy; it's about summer and feeling good."

In the runway show, models wore sandals and were instructed to walk at a leisurely pace, like a stroll on the beach. "I tell them don't run it, walk it, it's got to be ladylike," he said, while hanging out in the Audi tent before the night's lineup of shows started.

(Valvo, in a casual mood, also wore sandals throughout the evening, with T-shirt, slacks and jacket.)

The largely monocromatic collection, which he debuted at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last month, is marked by a sense of illusion, as Valvo uses transparent fabrics to show a hint of leg or arm, and expert construction, with crisp pleating and pearl detailing.

Business has been good the past few months, Valvo said, but with upheaval in Europe and heavy flucuations in the stock market, he isn't sure what the future will bring. However, he sees it as a time that pushes designers to do their best work.

"If there is uncertainty in the air, the consumer wants to buy something that's different, that's beautiful and makes her feel beautiful. It pushes designers to be more creative, actually," he said. "You can't be over the top, either, because that's not going to fly. But you have to push your creativity to the point that it's sensible and accessible."

Kate Kills Pretty

Coquette boutique owner Aries Milan made her runway debut with a creative, if sometimes out there, collection of two-tone fringe skirts, pink ombre jumpsuits, paint splatter-print leggings and tops with macramé detail. At times the collection, a collaboration between Milan and longtime Houston designer Toni Whitaker, had a split personality, reflecting the two designers' different styles.

I'm guessing some of the more sedate pieces, like an electric blue jumpsuit and magenta lounging gowns, were the work of Whitaker while the more outrageous styles, including a bathing suit with cut-outs at the sides and mini fringe skirts and blouses that plunged to the navel, reflect Milan's free spirit. Even so, the show had an energy and playful spirit that is lacking in some of the other collections on display during the week.

Saks Menswear

The energy level also picked up when Saks Fifth Avenue presented a runway show of the latest in menswear styles for fall and winter as many of the women in the audience — as well as the gay men — perked up to intently watch a runway full of hot male models.

The collection featured some nifty outerwear, including suede sweaters trimmed in leather, a light gray peacoat, a mink-lined vest and oversized white suede coat with nubby fur lining. Too bad that, in a climate with constant sultry temperatures, we can wear such styles in Houston for five days of the year, if we're lucky.