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Fashion Houston Day 4: Haute Couture Goes Public

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Fashion Houston had some great fashion this week. We've seen flowing caftans, trim suits and lots of prints, but Thurday's fashion show was something to remember.

Namely because Becca Cason Thrash, the party gal the fashion world loves (and she loves it right back), was on site and showcased 26 of her haute couture pieces. Folks in and out of fashion throw around the word "couture," but seldom is it used in the right way. Haute couture is the art of hand sewn dressmaking. These are garments that take many, many hours to create and every stitch is done by hand.

Haute couture is a dying art and business, as most of us do not have tens of thousands to drop on a single dress. Thrash and other ridiculously wealthy women (mostly Middle Eastern royalty at this point) around the globe keep the haute couture portion of fashion houses alive by visiting Paris twice a year and ordering these custom pieces. Thrash shared a portion of her haute couture collection from Jean Paul Gaultier, Christian Dior and one of her favorite designers and close friend, Ralph Chado Rucci.

Before the haute couture, we saw three designers' spring 2012 collections. First up was Cesar Galindo Rojo. We thought it was just a name, but it was actually a collection comprised of only red dresses. Glittering sequin gowns mimicked Dorothy's ruby slippers and another dress was topped with ornate ruffles at the neckline. After hamming it up with models at the end of the runway, Galindo let us know this was a collection created for World Aids Day and all of the dresses are up for auction with all proceeds going to charity. For more on Galindo's Rojo collection visit AIDShelp.org.

Designer Bibhu Monhapatra has worked for Halston and J.Mendel. The ultra glam collection presented at Fashion Houston reflected his experience at these houses. Sherbert-hued dresses with open backs and jeweled details moved beautifully down the runway. There were a lot of nude and black dresses in Monhapatra's collection, which were rich in texture. Flared A-line, full length gowns were the silhouette of choice.

Cuban American designer Robert Rodriguez is a favorite of stars like Rachel Bilson and Eva Longoria. Take a peek at Rodriguez's collection at Neiman Marcus or Saks and you'll find everything from wear-anywhere separates to chic cocktail dresses. Rodriguez primarily used jersey for his spring collection - the relaxed fabric that he wielded into everything from a pair of citrus orange harem pants to a taupe maxi dress with a Grecian vibe.

Stealing the show was Thrash's haute couture collection. Things started with Thrash's friend, Neal Hamil, giving a short speech about Thrash's charity work and love of fashion. With a short video, Thrash introduced us to a few of the pieces shown in the collection and when and where she wore them.

Thrash has been a longtime supporter of designer Ralph Chado Rucci. Rucci dressed Thrash for the Met's annual Costume Institute Gala in a full black gown with white feathers brimming at the neckline and cuffs. Another Rucci gown boasted an ostrich bodice and silk skirt with a matching ostrich bolero jacket. An ivory Christian Dior gown glittered with countless stones throughout top portion of the dress and took about 90 hours to make.

Perhaps the most special piece in the collection was the Alexander McQueen gown from the late designer's last collection. McQueen had finished designing the collection and it was about 80 percent completed at the time of his death. The medieval-inspired collection was presented less than a month after the designer passed away.

From the FW 2010 season, the silver gown had long sleeves, opulent detail through the front and back and a flowing train. Like armor from the inspiration's era, the gown appeared to have considerable weight. Any haute couture piece typically rises in value over the years, but a piece from an iconic designer's last collection? Priceless.

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