There are a few factors that Fotini Copeland takes into account when designing her clothes, with one being the backbone that the line is built around.
"The DNA of the brand is femininity," said Copeland at Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf, a spacious boutique in River Oaks, where she hosted an invitation-only in-store appearance meets trunk show meets ladies luncheon last Thursday and Friday for her self-titled (first name only) line of Spring 2012 day-to-evening women's wear.
In sizes from 2 to 14, the line appeals to the feminine because it embraces every woman. The mid-length dresses are a petite woman's dream; there is no worry about a pool of excess cloth spilling onto the floor. The blouses, perfect for the office or happy hour, are designed with frilly v-necks just deep enough to suggest. The slenderizing evening gowns hug the female frame in all the right spots and flare out over potential problem areas, making them ideal for women of all shapes. And the generous use of cloth over bust and bum, such as in the case of the casual Christina dress, eliminates the worry over potential wardrobe malfunctions, easing the modest woman's mind, which leads to the next, and, according to Copeland, equally important facet of her line.
"It's sexy without being too sexy," remarked the designer. Indeed, her dresses are relatively demure. They're sleeveless, but not too sleeveless, short, but not too short and cinched in the middle, but not too cinched, all key ingredients to pass ladylike inspections. (There were a few exceptions, actually: The navy blue Sophia gown with a plunging neckline to make J. Lo's nipple blush, and the drastic Isabella dress that put Angelina's leg to shame -- metaphorically.)
"There should always be an element of mystery."
Copeland's own culture also plays a big role in the creation of her garments, which retail for $700 to $6,000. She is half Greek and half Egyptian and pays homage by designing modern versions of the styles that Greek goddesses and ancient Egyptian queens wore. For an example of royal Grecian draping, just refer back to that Isabella gown.
Copeland's uses of "luscious" fabrics like Italian leather and French lace round out the line's makeup. She pairs the fine fabrics with full-bodied hues that range from a dark blue Alexis dress emboldened with graffiti-like splatters of orange, red, white and black, called "Javerina Print," to a bright white A-line dress with gold brocade; there is no room for shrinking violet pastels in this collection. Her darling is the Lola dress, stitched all over with black-and-white Chantilly lace to be interchangeably worn by either a politician's wife or a tween on Easter Sunday.
Fotini has been a long time coming. Since she was seven, Copeland enjoyed sketching clothes with crayons and dreamed of a future as a designing woman. When it came time for college, however, her father vetoed fashion school. So, Copeland studied business and began a career in finance.
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"I was very angry," she admitted.
Ironically, it would be the business acumen she acquired in school that would aid her in the pursuit of her fashionable dreams in 2007. She would spend three years traveling back and forth to Italy, where her passion for corsetry -- those cinched waists again -- was born and solidified. Following her dream paid off: She debuted her line at last year's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York and has a Fall 2012 line waiting in the wings. Copeland assures that the new collection will remain just as frilly and feminine as the first.
"[My clothes] are going to complement my woman. She's going to feel really confident," said Copeland. "I don't know a woman that doesn't want to look good."
Elizabeth Anthony/Esther Wolf is the first and only store in Texas to sell Fotini. For more information, call 713-622-1331.