Just as the season started to feel like fall, Fashion Houston hosted four nights of spring runway shows at Wortham Theater Center.
The fourth annual event, presented by Audi, included fashions by 19 designers, sported by Neal Hamil Agency models.
The dip in temperature brought out a stylish set of fashion enthusiasts and industry insiders, but the focus was on runway heavyweights including Nicole Miller, Rebecca Taylor and Azrouel; Houston designers David Peck and Chloe Dao; and local emerging talent Viet Kent Nguyen, Jo'se Reyes and Amir Taghi.
"Honestly, I would have thought Houston was just like Dallas - really Southern," said New Zealand-born designer Taylor, who showed an ethereal collection of white, easy separates and dresses. "But it's not like that. It's a very much more urban and sophisticated than I had imagined. You don't know that unless you come."
Johnny Talbot of the design duo Talbot Runhof was happy that Fashion Houston exposed his Munich-based brand to a wider audience. Talbot, a former engineer who worked at the Pentagon, said his collection focuses on mixing traditional fabrics with high-tech materials.
For spring, the collection included four tweed dresses with laser-cut flower appliques made of foil. The fabric was complex to create.
"Someone asked me today if the fabric is all handmade. Yes, it could have been if I would have started working on the dress when I was 6," Talbot said with a laugh.
After Wednesday night's runway show of graceful spring dresses and gowns, designer Bibhu Mohapatra said he was honored to return to Fashion Houston.
"Houstonians are passionate about whatever they feel, be it fashion, art or food. They seem culturally more together. That's interesting to me," he said. "We, as human beings, are shaped by our interests in culture. That's what I find Houston gives me with its people."
Mohapatra's collection was inspired by his dancer friend Wendy Whelan, a longtime prima ballerina for the New York City Ballet. The designer, who was also J. Mendel's fur guru, said that though he relishes designing fall/winter collections, spring offers a challenge.
"You have to be fresh," Mohapatra said. "It's not about piling clothes on top of others to create a look. Spring is always one look, so the strength has to be in one piece. I enjoy that."
Dao presented her largest runway collection ever, with 38 pieces. The show featured dresses with asymetrical-cut shoulders and separates in retro plaid prints. This is her fourth time to participate in Fashion Houston. "I think this is my best work yet," the "Project Runway" Season 2 winner said.