Fashion / Style

This Texas Designer Wants Your Dress to Match Your Drink: Just Don’t Dare Wear Sweatpants — a Night of Food, Fashion and Fundraising

BY // 03.02.18
photography Photo by Priscilla Dickson

Lela Rose has long believed that fashion and food go together. The noted fashion designer has authored a book, Pret-a-Party: Great Ideals for Good Times and Creative Entertaining, and often adds a food element to her New York runway shows, holding them in restaurants or in Washington Square Park, where the cocktails and food matched the color palate of the collection. Rose even featured a “Haute Dog” cart with gourmet offerings.

“I have always said that as a brand, we’re all about fashion, food, and fun. And every event that we ever do mixes all of those elements,” Rose says. “I love to entertain, so I always say match your drink to your dress and your dress to your table. You know, the reason you’re wearing clothes like what I design is that you’re going somewhere or you’re doing something, and your calendar is filled.

“There has always been a link between fashion and food. And that is how we show our clothes.”

So Rose seemed a natural as the featured attraction at the latest Recipe for Success Dress for Dinner series, held at Neiman Marcus. For the past 14 years, Recipe for Success co-founder Gracie Cavnar has brought in noted designers to showcase their latest collection at a fashion show and dinner afterwards to raise funds to support the organization’s efforts to combat childhood obesity through heathy eating habits.

“We’re big believers you can cross all kinds of cultural and social divides by bringing people together around a table. We like to do that and Lela likes to do that too,” Cavnar says.

After a question-and-answer session with Houston Chronicle fashion writer Joy Sewing, Lela Rose unveiled her spring/summer and resort collections in a runway show, featuring breezy day dresses in bright colors, sleek lace tops and buttoned trousers, and off-the-shoulder evening gowns. The Dallas born-and-bred designer still considers herself a Texan even though she’s lived in New York for decades and that Lone Star heritage shows up in her creations.

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“I have always said that Texas women are some of my greatest inspirations. I design in a color palate of  bold strong colors. Black has never been my go-to palate for most things. Yellow, and oranges and pinks and fuchsia (instead),” Rose says.

“I also really credit the Texas woman for knowing that being dressed is key to greeting the day in a better way and in a way that you feel good about yourself. And who feels good in sweatpants? You might feel good at home but you never feel good running into anyone in sweatpants. I don’t like going out when I look sloppy.”

Gina Gaston, Lela Rose, Dr. Sippi Khurana.

Before the fashion show began at Neiman Marcus, guest sipped a special “Lela’s Rose” cocktail and nibbled on light bites prepared by A Fare Extraordinaire executive chef Ryan Bouillet from vegetables grown at Hope Farms, an urban garden in south Houston run by the Recipe for Success team members and volunteers. The innovative nibbles included radish crostini with hijiki butter and cucumber with beet puree.

For dinner afterwards in the store’s Mariposa restaurant for select guests who paid $500 each to attend, Bouillet prepared a red and yellow tomato tartare, poached halibut with braised turnips and acorn squash, and an “Old Fashioned” dessert of vanilla panna cotta with cherry puree, bitters infused carbonated oranges, whiskey gelee, and sugared walnuts.

The fashionably-dressed crowd included chairs Jeff Shell and Ally Shell-van Koolwijk, with her husband Martijn van Koolwijk, Jane Wagner, Dr. Sippi Khurana and husband, Ajay Khurana, Theresa Roemer, Neiman Marcus general manager Bob Devlin, Diane Lokey Farb, Gina Gaston, Dr. Yvonne Cormier, Claire Cormier Thielke, Myrtle Jones, Recipe for Success co-founder Bob Cavnar, BJ and Bob Shell, Kim Padgett, Leisa Holland Nelson, Karina Barbieri, Chris Goins, Parissa Mohajer, Mahzad Mohajer, Jeanne Ruberti, Brandon McClendon, and Fritz Lucio McDonald.

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