Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Toni Whitaker - Houston Socialites' Designer

Invite to a recent show features Houston's top socialites

Houston Socialite Anita Smith in a Toni Whitaker gown
One of Toni's spectacular gowns

Loving this sharp grey number that shows you're ready for business

Layering highlights this show stopping piece

Elegant yet avant garde bridal gown (below)

Soooooooo many of you wanted to learn more about Super Fab Sista Designer Toni Whitaker (pictured above) that I felt morally obligated to interview her (grins). Toni holds a B.S. in Textile Technology from North Carolina State University and a B.S. in Apparel Design from Syracuse University. Toni worked from Houston Ebony Opera, Main Street Theater, and as an Adjunct Faculty member of both Texas Southern University and University of Houston before launching her own design house in 1984.

Clearly, her work featured above is breathtaking. Toni was received the 2004 Houston Chronicle’sUltimate Fashion Designer’ award and many of her clients are consistently listed as the city’s best dressed. Suits from Toni Whitaker Designs start at around $650 and formal gowns can range from $850-$3,000 depending on how much drama you want to bring to the event.

Here, Toni shares some tips on selecting a designer and economical ways to build the essential ‘Socialite’ wardrobe.

What qualities should we look for when selecting a designer?
The designer should have a sense of the client’s style, body and lifestyle

Why is it important for Black women to consider having outfits exclusively tailored or designed?
Black women tend to have fuller,curvy figures. 'Ready to wear' rarely fits us.

Why you do think that the Houston Social Elite flock to you?
I’m edgy with perfect craftsmanship and pay attention to detail. And, I deliver on time.

Who are your favorite designers and why?
Oscar de la Renta, LaCroix for their theatrical flare and use of color.

Where do you derive creative inspiration?
I'm an old movie buff. I also love African textiles.

What advise do you have for Sistas who are building a ‘Socialite wardrobe?’
Start out with pieces that can be worn with other things. Basic colors, but great design. Consider pieces that are not so recognizable if they are worn twice.

What is the most economical way someone can make a ‘fashion statement?’
Chose the right accessories. For me--it's the jewelry. The belt, ear and neck piece can make a basic/inexpensive outfit look like a million dollars. I love shoes; but in a crowded reception, you see waist up.