Wednesday night was the third installment of Fashion Houston. The past two evenings have had a few red carpet-worthy moments, but for the most part it's been wearable fashion that's versatile for real life. There have been structured separates, plenty of day dresses and a healthy dose of neutrals for those who like to play it safe when it comes to fashion.
Wednesday's fashion shows were all about color. We aren't talking the shot of neon mixed with a beige color palette like we've seen the past couple of nights. We're talking bold color in intricate patterns and featherweight fabrics for ease and wearability. While the colors were definitely intense, there was a relaxed vibe to the pieces, making them a prime pick for showing to a Houston audience. The message was more is more for this fashion show.
Project Runway alum and Houston-based designer Chloe Dao opened the show. Dao's clothing is available at her store, Lot 8, located on Kirby. Dao's spring 2012 collection was ripe with color and stuck to tailored shapes. The sheath dress you might slip on for the office was reinvented with tribal-like patterns in rich shades of pink, yellow and blue. The dresses were business up front and a party at the back thanks to cutout details. Dao's models walked the runway with accessories by Elaine Turner, a fellow Houstonian designer. Structured handbags with gold chain hardware added a classic element and juxtaposed Dao's playful dresses.
Australian designer Camilla Franks presented her collection, which is fit for a day on the yacht. Franks's line, Camilla, is stocked at Tootsies and has been worn by Oprah, Beyoncé and Fergie (don't fret -- if you go by more than one name, you can wear her pieces, too).
Franks loves color and her collection was comprised of rich jewel tones and acid brights. Caftans, loose dresses and roomy tunics created a fluid look on the runway. If loads of color on one garment isn't enough for you, several of the pieces in the show were also embellished with crystals and stones for a dazzling effect.
Fabiolo Arias Collection is a favorite of Michelle Obama and when you see the dresses, you realize why. The First Lady's style is all about traditional shapes with a modern flare. Fabiolo Arias presented a show of classic silhouettes that flatter the female form, but with a sense of whimsy. Fluttering tissue-like detail created a fabulous effect on nipped waist dresses and gowns.
Dip-dyed feathers and textured fabrics created an ombré effect with shades of blue. As we saw from other designers at Fashion Houston, Arias showcased tea length dresses hitting just at the calf, which provided movement for the full skirts.
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Neiman Marcus presented Norman Ambrose's spring 2012 collection. Ambrose's collection was more refined than the other shows on Wednesday night. Ambrose's meticulous attention to cut and detail makes his clothing comparable to that of fashion houses that have been around for decades.
Shimmering sherbert and silver suiting, tailored jackets with paillettes at the cuff and drainpipe trousers brought to mind disco done right. It's not for the faint of heart, but Ambrose's collection has a regal air to it, making it a winner for those who know quality.
A spangled gold mini dress had everything for looking good on a steamy summer night in Houston, but a glittering full-length gown brought to mind Oscar de la Renta, a brand Ambrose is sure to join the ranks of soon enough.
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.