Fashion Houston 2011 Day 2: Bright Lights and Dandy Men

Brenda Arens Guttierrez in a Carmen Marc Valvo
Brenda Arens Guttierrez in a Carmen Marc Valvo
Photo by Jay Marroquin

The heat is on for Fashion Houston 2011. That seems to be the theme, with a voice-over giving us a countdown to when the runway will be "on fire."

For the second night of Fashion Houston, there was a younger set out and about. You still had plenty of fabulous and mature women sporting coiffed hairdos, but last night belonged to a new generation with their body-conscious dresses and major platform pumps.

We're used to glamorous women in Houston (have you ever seen a city with more nail salons?), but there were plenty of stylish men at Fashion Houston Tuesday night. Guys in their 20s and 30s are experimenting with fashion more than ever, mixing bow ties with sneakers and sporting selvedge jeans that rival the scary price points of any contemporary women's denim line.

If you're tired of guys whose idea of dressing up is a boxy oxford and pleated front khakis, you may want to hit the next couple of nights of Fashion Houston and mingle with men who know what they're doing in the fashion department.

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Tuesday's show kicked off with Kate Kills Pretty, a line from designer Aries Milan. Milan collaborated with Houston designer Toni Whitaker, who has designed clothing for over 25 years. Whitaker is well-known in the Houston fashion scene and had a namesake boutique and showroom in Rice Village for a number of years, so it was natural for Milan to choose Whitaker to help bring her ideas to life.

The two have previously collaborated on a line for Milan's boutique, Coquette. Inspired by supermodel Kate Moss, Kate Kills Pretty is an avant garde label. We aren't exactly sure who the target consumer is, but if you love things that are low cut, backless or a little neon mixed with neutrals, you're in luck. Kate Kills Pretty played with proportion by showcasing voluminous skirts with asymmetrical hemlines.

Asymmetrical hemlines were also a favorite of Cesar Galindo. After working with big names like L.A.M.B., Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein (under Francisco Costa, no less), Galindo has created his own line, CZAR. CZAR is a strong collection of wearable statement dresses and separates. Texture abounds with soft, fluttering fabrics in black and white. As with the New York, Milan and Paris spring 2012 fashion shows, many designers are abandoning the usual bright colors for next season in lieu of the two standby neutrals. CZAR was packed with jersey dresses of every length -- ideal for looking good while keeping cool in Houston.

Saks Fifth Avenue presented menswear for fall 2011. While the men looked amazing in fair isle sweaters, funnel neck coats and distressed boots, they also looked fit for hunting in the English countryside during the dead of winter. Since childhood memories bring to mind Christmas holidays in Houston while comfortably wearing shorts, we aren't sure who the winter duds were for. Perhaps those who vacation or travel to Aspen or Vail (which isn't us).

Carmen Marc Valvo closed the show with dresses that would make any Texan lady swoon. Femininity and movement were the name of the game with accordion-style pleated maxi skirts that created a vision on the runway. Pale lemon, taupe and blush shades added a romantic tone. A sequin striped tea length dress had the classic shape of a number you'd see on I Love Lucy, but became modern thanks to the glitzy details.

Fashion Houston 2011 continues through Thursday at the Wortham Center. The Audi Pavilion opens at 6 p.m., with the fashion shows starting promptly at 8 p.m. Follow @SamSaysFashion for live tweets from the show.

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