Designer inspired by African roots, travels

It's just been nearly three years since Onyii (pronounced "Own-Yee") Brown launched her African-inspired collection, Onyii & Co., and now she's basking in the national spotlight. She was a 2015 finalist for Martha Stewart's "American Made" contest, which celebrates brands made in the United States. And in September, she'll show her spring/summer 2017 collection at New York Fashion Week, presented by Amconyc. Brown, 39, started her line with $125 and one pale-yellow, maxi wrap skirt on Etsy. Her foray into fashion was hardly the norm. Nigerian born and raised in Amherst, Mass., Brown set out to study robotics engineering at the University of Massachusetts but decided on a degree in marketing. During her junior year, she took an internship in New York's garment district with a fabric converter, a company that turns raw materials such as cotton into textiles for designers. More

It's just been nearly three years since Onyii (pronounced "Own-Yee") Brown launched her African-inspired collection, Onyii & Co., and now she's basking in the national spotlight.

She was a 2015 finalist for Martha Stewart's "American Made" contest, which celebrates brands made in the United States. And in September, she'll show her spring/summer 2017 collection at New York Fashion Week, presented by Amconyc.

Brown, 39, started her line with $125 and one pale-yellow, maxi wrap skirt on Etsy.

Her foray into fashion was hardly the norm. Nigerian born and raised in Amherst, Mass., Brown set out to study robotics engineering at the University of Massachusetts but decided on a degree in marketing. During her junior year, she took an internship in New York's garment district with a fabric converter, a company that turns raw materials such as cotton into textiles for designers.

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Michelle Smith finds creative groove with Milly

Designer Michelle Smith walks the runway at the Milly By Michelle Smith show during Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week at Art Beam on September 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images) Michelle Smith's long, blond mane - and the blowouts to straighten it - had been a part of her world since she launched her Milly brand in 2001. But last year, she decided her hair was weighing her down. So after a photo shoot for her latest collection, Smith told celebrity hairstylist Yannick D'Is to "do whatever you want to do to my hair." He chopped off nearly 10 inches and left her with a glamorous cut with natural curl. "I was so ready to go back to my curly hair. It was time. Maybe it was about feeling more confident," said Smith, 43, who recently was in Houston for the Children's Assessment Center annual Spirit of Spring Luncheon and Fashion Show at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The event featured a Neiman Marcus runway show of her collection. Smith is also feeling more romantic these days. Her spring and summer "Modern Love" collection is a sensual mix of soft details and structured design with off-the-shoulder blouses, flirty and ruffled dresses and cascading skirts in hues from sunrise to sunset. The designs come from a more personal place, she said, taking hearty fabrics such as denim and cotton shirting and making them feminine and playful. More

Designer Michelle Smith walks the runway at the Milly By Michelle Smith show during Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week at Art Beam on September 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)

Michelle Smith's long, blond mane - and the blowouts to straighten it - had been a part of her world since she launched her Milly brand in 2001.

But last year, she decided her hair was weighing her down. So after a photo shoot for her latest collection, Smith told celebrity hairstylist Yannick D'Is to "do whatever you want to do to my hair."

He chopped off nearly 10 inches and left her with a glamorous cut with natural curl.

"I was so ready to go back to my curly hair. It was time. Maybe it was about feeling more confident," said Smith, 43, who recently was in Houston for the Children's Assessment Center annual Spirit of Spring Luncheon and Fashion Show at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The event featured a Neiman Marcus runway show of her collection.

Smith is also feeling more romantic these days. Her spring and summer "Modern Love" collection is a sensual mix of soft details and structured design with off-the-shoulder blouses, flirty and ruffled dresses and cascading skirts in hues from sunrise to sunset. The designs come from a more personal place, she said, taking hearty fabrics such as denim and cotton shirting and making them feminine and playful.

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Stella McCartney breaks the rules of fashion

Designer Stella McCartney, center, and her models pose backstage after the Stella McCartney show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016. Stella McCartney whips out her cellphone to snap a selfie in front of the Tom Ford store at River Oaks District. She's tickled that she and Ford, a Dallas native and a close friend, have storefronts in the luxury retail development within walking distances of each other. She texts him the photo. "I'm seeing people walk around with my bags, and I love it," says McCartney, who was in Houston last week for the official grand-opening party for her store. "It's funny ... you don't realize how fortunate you are to open a store. There's so much that goes into it. It has to be the right timing, and everything has to line up. This was the time that everything lined up to have our store here." McCartney's first Houston outpost, which had a soft opening in October, is her seventh U.S. store and one of 45 locations worldwide, including London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan and Tokyo. McCartney, 44, says her busy home life with husband Alasdhair Willis and their four children - ages 5, 8, 9 and 11 - means she doesn't do many "road shows," but she tries to visit when she can. (One of her favorite things to do with her children, she says, is to "look at them and smell them. I'm obsessed with their breath in the morning, which is terrifying.") Before the Houston visit, McCartney was in Los Angeles and decided to check on things at the store there. "Sometimes I go in (unannounced) and say, 'Hi' and everyone freaks out," she says. It's that unassuming quality - and her unbridled talent as a designer - that McCartney is known for. She's not caught up in celebrity; her dad is a music legend, after all. For her, life in the spotlight comes with much humility. More

Designer Stella McCartney, center, and her models pose backstage after the Stella McCartney show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016.

Stella McCartney whips out her cellphone to snap a selfie in front of the Tom Ford store at River Oaks District.

She's tickled that she and Ford, a Dallas native and a close friend, have storefronts in the luxury retail development within walking distances of each other. She texts him the photo.

"I'm seeing people walk around with my bags, and I love it," says McCartney, who was in Houston last week for the official grand-opening party for her store. "It's funny ... you don't realize how fortunate you are to open a store. There's so much that goes into it. It has to be the right timing, and everything has to line up. This was the time that everything lined up to have our store here."

McCartney's first Houston outpost, which had a soft opening in October, is her seventh U.S. store and one of 45 locations worldwide, including London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan and Tokyo.

McCartney, 44, says her busy home life with husband Alasdhair Willis and their four children - ages 5, 8, 9 and 11 - means she doesn't do many "road shows," but she tries to visit when she can. (One of her favorite things to do with her children, she says, is to "look at them and smell them. I'm obsessed with their breath in the morning, which is terrifying.")

Before the Houston visit, McCartney was in Los Angeles and decided to check on things at the store there.

"Sometimes I go in (unannounced) and say, 'Hi' and everyone freaks out," she says.

It's that unassuming quality - and her unbridled talent as a designer - that McCartney is known for. She's not caught up in celebrity; her dad is a music legend, after all. For her, life in the spotlight comes with much humility.

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Wanderlust: Summer styles take cues from cultures of the world

Xochitl Frazier of Page Parkes Models is wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress, $1,995, from The Webster; and Devon Leigh earrings, $395, and Nest gold necklaces, $295 each, from Neiman Marcus. Her bangles, $125, are available at inspiredluxe.com. Fashion styling by Joy Sewing. Makeup by Tree Vaello. Photo by Gary Coronado. Fashion absorbs culture, and designers take in influences from across the globe and reinterpret them for their collections. So as summer starts, life unwinds and the weather warms, the luxury-fashion scene reveals a mix of cultural accents - Spanish, Asian, African, Indian - all with bohemian appeal. Houston designer Elaine Turner suggests the global trend is part escapism and part fantasy. Shoppers consumed by wanderlust, or even those who have traveled the world, want to look and feel the part of the adventuress. "The cultural influences we see can take you away and carry you to someplace unique, someplace tropical," she says. More

Xochitl Frazier of Page Parkes Models is wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress, $1,995, from The Webster; and Devon Leigh earrings, $395, and Nest gold necklaces, $295 each, from Neiman Marcus. Her bangles, $125, are available at inspiredluxe.com. Fashion styling by Joy Sewing. Makeup by Tree Vaello. Photo by Gary Coronado.

Fashion absorbs culture, and designers take in influences from across the globe and reinterpret them for their collections.

So as summer starts, life unwinds and the weather warms, the luxury-fashion scene reveals a mix of cultural accents - Spanish, Asian, African, Indian - all with bohemian appeal.

Houston designer Elaine Turner suggests the global trend is part escapism and part fantasy. Shoppers consumed by wanderlust, or even those who have traveled the world, want to look and feel the part of the adventuress.

"The cultural influences we see can take you away and carry you to someplace unique, someplace tropical," she says.

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Zac Posen continues to make his mark

When fashion maestro Zac Posen shows his collection Tuesday at the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed Luncheon and Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation, the audience will be treated to a rich fall preview, including some pieces and gowns he's never shown before. Hollywood actresses have been gliding down the red carpet wearing Posen's signature crayon-color gowns since he launched his label 14 years ago when he was just 21 years old. But at the luncheon benefiting March of Dimes at the Hilton-Americas, he'll be showing high-collared jackets with short-legged pants, floral dresses with asymmetrical hemlines and a palette of wine, jade, blue, gray and copper. Posen says he likes to mix things up. "It's important to take risks in your journey," he says. More

When fashion maestro Zac Posen shows his collection Tuesday at the Houston Chronicle Best Dressed Luncheon and Neiman Marcus Fashion Presentation, the audience will be treated to a rich fall preview, including some pieces and gowns he's never shown before.

Hollywood actresses have been gliding down the red carpet wearing Posen's signature crayon-color gowns since he launched his label 14 years ago when he was just 21 years old.

But at the luncheon benefiting March of Dimes at the Hilton-Americas, he'll be showing high-collared jackets with short-legged pants, floral dresses with asymmetrical hemlines and a palette of wine, jade, blue, gray and copper.

Posen says he likes to mix things up. "It's important to take risks in your journey," he says.

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Miranda Lambert's gun-embellished stilettos were created by Houston designer

Miranda Lambert rocked the red carpet at the recent American Country Music Awards with the Come & Take It stiletto, complete with gun and holster embellishment, designed Houston's Joyce Echols. Echols started the line in 2013, and uses the tagline, "Designed in Texas, Made in Italy." Her Texan designs featured accents like barbed wire and longhorn motifs. Lambert's shoes, $849, are available at joyceechols.com Now, about those guns on shoes? Only in Texas.

Miranda Lambert rocked the red carpet at the recent American Country Music Awards with the Come & Take It stiletto, complete with gun and holster embellishment, designed Houston's Joyce Echols.

Echols started the line in 2013, and uses the tagline, "Designed in Texas, Made in Italy." Her Texan designs featured accents like barbed wire and longhorn motifs.

Lambert's shoes, $849, are available at joyceechols.com

Now, about those guns on shoes?

Only in Texas.

Beyonce surprises with new athleisure clothing line

We know Beyoncé loves to surprise us. 

The latest is her new athleisure line, Ivy Park, which she unveiled on Beyonce.com today just as Elle magazine revealed its May cover with the super star. According to the offical site: "Ivy Park is merging fashion-led design with technical innovation, creating a new kind of performance wear: modern essentials for both on and off the field." The video for the line features her back-up dancers clad in sweat session-ready attire. It also features the Parkwood park, near the corner of Rio and Parkwood streets, where Beyoncé and her father, Mathew Knowles would go running. (I actually grew up in the Riverside Terrace area neighborhood and also ran the rolling hills of park with childhood friends. Small world.) The line is named after the park and Beyoncé's daughter, Blue Ivy. Elle.com reports Ivy Park will be available at Net-a-Porter, Topshop, and Nordstrom. (FYI - Athleisure is the biggest trend in fitness wear and combines workout gear with street wear.)

The latest is her new athleisure line, Ivy Park, which she unveiled on Beyonce.com today just as Elle magazine revealed its May cover with the super star.

According to the offical site: "Ivy Park is merging fashion-led design with technical innovation, creating a new kind of performance wear: modern essentials for both on and off the field."

The video for the line features her back-up dancers clad in sweat session-ready attire. It also features the Parkwood park, near the corner of Rio and Parkwood streets, where Beyoncé and her father, Mathew Knowles would go running. (I actually grew up in the Riverside Terrace area neighborhood and also ran the rolling hills of park with childhood friends. Small world.)

The line is named after the park and Beyoncé's daughter, Blue Ivy.

Elle.com reports Ivy Park will be available at Net-a-Porter, Topshop, and Nordstrom.

(FYI - Athleisure is the biggest trend in fitness wear and combines workout gear with street wear.)

Kelly Rowland to debut makeup line for women of color

Houston native and Grammy Award-winning singer Kelly Rowland recently told Essence magazine she's launching a makeup line created for women of color. "My makeup artist Sheika Daley and I are actually starting a makeup line. We're making sure we make, well, we're starting off with lashes and then we're going to have it grow for all women," Rowland told Essence. "But definitely making sure we have our chocolate girls covered. Gotta get the chocolate girls in there! We have to have that, you know. I think Iman has done a beautiful makeup line, and I want to do it too!" No launch date has been set.

Houston native and Grammy Award-winning singer Kelly Rowland recently told Essence magazine she's launching a makeup line created for women of color.

"My makeup artist Sheika Daley and I are actually starting a makeup line. We're making sure we make, well, we're starting off with lashes and then we're going to have it grow for all women," Rowland told Essence. "But definitely making sure we have our chocolate girls covered. Gotta get the chocolate girls in there! We have to have that, you know. I think Iman has done a beautiful makeup line, and I want to do it too!"

No launch date has been set.

High Fashion Comes to River Oaks District

The appetite for runway fashion expands each day, each season.

Sandra Caliano of Neal Hamil Models is wearing an Dolce & Gabbana dress, $7,945, at River Oaks District. Hair/makeup by Tree Vaello and fashion styling by Joy Sewing ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle ) As fashion weeks from New York to Milan send choreographed collections down the catwalk, and fashion writers and bloggers share those images on social media, customers are often on the edge of their seats waiting and wanting. High fashion comes fast, and it now arrives locally at the new River Oaks District, the 650,000-square-foot luxury shopping and mixed-use, development between Highland Village and the Galleria. Houston's version of Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive showcases all things fashion. More

Sandra Caliano of Neal Hamil Models is wearing an Dolce & Gabbana dress, $7,945, at River Oaks District. Hair/makeup by Tree Vaello and fashion styling by Joy Sewing ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )

As fashion weeks from New York to Milan send choreographed collections down the catwalk, and fashion writers and bloggers share those images on social media, customers are often on the edge of their seats waiting and wanting.

High fashion comes fast, and it now arrives locally at the new River Oaks District, the 650,000-square-foot luxury shopping and mixed-use, development between Highland Village and the Galleria.

Houston's version of Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive showcases all things fashion.

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Marimekko come soon to Target

You can't see a Marimekko print without smiling. There'll be a lot of smiling (and happy shoppers) this spring when Marimekko for Target arrives in stores and at target.com beginning April 17. There are more than 200 pieces, including clothing and home decor,  in the collection. The best part is most items are under $50.

You can't see a Marimekko print without smiling.

There'll be a lot of smiling (and happy shoppers) this spring when Marimekko for Target arrives in stores and at target.com beginning April 17.

There are more than 200 pieces, including clothing and home decor,  in the collection. The best part is most items are under $50.

Fall's hottest trends take gender cues from the past

Model Bay Berger in a Tom Ford jacket and pants, $2,390 and $990; Lanvin lace-ups, $995; and Phillip Lim blouse, $425, all from Neiman Marcus. Fashion styling by Joy Sewing. Photo by Gary Coronado / Chronicle Every few years, women dip into men's closets for trends. It's happening again this fall. Menswear-inspired looks, from pin-striped suits to loafers, are bringing masculine energy to the season. The New York runways were filled with elegantly structured pantsuits in tweed, herringbone and other rich patterns with hues of black, navy, chocolate and gray. Even mismatched suiting in colorful patterns added punch to the collections. Designers who got the menswear memo, or likely created it, run the gamut from Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney to Dior and Chanel. While this could be considered the year of the pantsuit, Victorian-inspired femininity is having an equally engaging moment, with ruffles, lace, granny booties and high collars.

Model Bay Berger in a Tom Ford jacket and pants, $2,390 and $990; Lanvin lace-ups, $995; and Phillip Lim blouse, $425, all from Neiman Marcus. Fashion styling by Joy Sewing. Photo by Gary Coronado / Chronicle

Every few years, women dip into men's closets for trends.

It's happening again this fall. Menswear-inspired looks, from pin-striped suits to loafers, are bringing masculine energy to the season.

The New York runways were filled with elegantly structured pantsuits in tweed, herringbone and other rich patterns with hues of black, navy, chocolate and gray. Even mismatched suiting in colorful patterns added punch to the collections.

Designers who got the menswear memo, or likely created it, run the gamut from Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney to Dior and Chanel.

While this could be considered the year of the pantsuit, Victorian-inspired femininity is having an equally engaging moment, with ruffles, lace, granny booties and high collars.