PaperCity Magazine

May 2016 - Houston

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¡QUÉ ONDA GÜERO! E ntrepreneur and Houstonian Araceli Graham is on the hunt for the next great Latin American designer, treading the path first established by Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, as well as the more recent work of Colombian Esteban Cortazar. Graham's website, Cooperativa (cooperativashop. com), gives emerging Latin American designers a platform to show their work and tell their story. Graham, a former corporate exec with Coca-Cola, Pegaso and GlaxoSmithKline, has been mining the under-appreciated Latin fashion scene for years. Based in Houston, she travels regularly to both Mexico and Colombia for her new company. Emboldened by her work with established designer Olga Prieto, she connected with designers Carla Forte of NYC and Milan-based Mario Buccellati to bring their Predilleto collection to the American market. Thus Cooperativa was born. Graham saw opportunity and served a need. Here are highlights from the journey, in her own words. STIGMATA LATINA. Many Americans identify Latin American culture with ponchos and sombreros, Cartagena or Cinco de Mayo, but there's another side to our Latin culture — a more refined, sophisticated and cosmopolitan culture. BUILDING A BRIDGE. Our mission is to serve as the gateway for new, unknown and emerging designers and to tell their stories while shining light on their talents. The designers we represent are more than just a label; they have a face, a story and unique personalities that complement what they have to offer. There is strong use of artisanal techniques in the collections, showcasing their culture and history in their craft. WHY EMERGING DESIGNERS? I often feel a sense of repetitiveness when it comes to fashion and style, with established brands and labels in the U.S. and in Europe. Sometimes it's hard to find something new and different, and working with new and emerging designers fills that void. It's exciting because I finally see and feel a sense of uniqueness and variety that was missing. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR ... Mexican designer Carla Fernandez. Growing up with a historian father and a fashion-first mother, she learned to appreciate her country not only for its traditions and culture, but for its rich history, especially in regard to design and textiles. Fernandez learned to look at apparel with an anthropological eye and her ready-to-wear label reflects the historic process of creating indigenous clothing — through the use of weaving, considering geometrics in designs, working with dimensions by hand, and preserving the cultural techniques. I LOVE ALL MY CHILDREN EQUALLY … I could never pick a favorite, but at the moment I'm really loving Children of Our Town and Yakampot from Mexico City, as well as Liza Echeverry and Olga Piedrahita from Colombia. B Y S T E V E N H E M P E L . P R O D U C E D B Y M I C H E L L E A V I Ñ A I N M E X I C O C I T Y. P H O T O G R A P H Y A N A H O P. Francisco Cancino, creative director of Yakampot, in his Colonia Roma studio Araceli Graham wearing Sandra Weil Carla Fernandez wood bangles Trista embroidered jacket Children of Our Town, Natalia Ferriz and José Alfredo Silva Caralarga necklace Carla Fernandez store in Colonia Roma Kelly Talamas, Vogue Mexico and Latin America editor in chief, wearing Yakampot Gina Barrios, Ishi creative director Ishi jewelry "THERE'S A WEALTH OF TALENT IN LATIN AMERICA — TRULY UNIQUE DESIGNERS THAT CAN COMPETE WITH INTERNATIONAL COLLECTIONS, YET MANY ARE VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN OUTSIDE THEIR COUNTRIES DUE TO MANY FACTORS, INCLUDING GEOGRAPHIC OR ECONOMIC BARRIERS. I THINK PLATFORMS SUCH AS COOPERATIVA HELP TO BYPASS THOSE BARRIERS AND ARE CRUCIAL TO THEIR GROWTH AND SURVIVAL, BECAUSE THEY GIVE THESE DESIGNERS A VOICE AND MUCH-NEEDED PRESENCE ON THE GLOBAL FASHION SCENE. THIS TYPE OF PLATFORM THAT SUPPORTS LOCAL TALENT ALSO HELPS TO INCREASE INTEREST IN OUR REGION AND PUTS US ON THE FASHION MAP." – KELLY TALAMAS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VOGUE MEXICO & LATIN AMERICA Kelly Talamas, wearing Children of our Town Carla Fernandez Exihibition at Múseo Jumex, La Diseñadora Descalza FRENCH IMPORT T his past winter, as tony boutiques such as Cartier, Brunello Cucinelli, John Lobb, Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana and Hermès bowed at River Oaks District, we were still waiting for the bevy of restaurants slated to debut in Oliver McMillian's sleek new development. All restaurants are out-of-town concepts vying for a lucrative market share in one of the fastest growing cities in America. At last, our wait is over. The first to open is the French bistro-inspired Toulouse, a Dallas import from restaurateur Alberto Lombardi of Lombardi Family Concepts. Duplicating the success of the concept up north (as well as much of its menu), the space has the requisite French bistro accouterments: marble-topped tables, tile flooring and foxed mirrors, plus ample outdoor patio dining for those who wish to see and be seen behind their Tom Ford sunnies — most of our town's social beacons have already made tracks to Toulouse. Chef consultant Philippe Schmit, who left his eponymous Post Oak eatery in 2013, is behind the range, working with corporate chef Renato Di Pirro to create modern French dishes such as steak tartare ($16), a trio of mussel preparations ($16 each/$24 as an entrée) and decadent croquet madame ($17), as well as old-school classics salmon coulibiac ($25), trout almondine ($24) and steak au poivre napped with a creamy cognac sauce ($29). On the lighter side are raw and cooked fruits de mer, as well as artful entrée salads. Toulouse is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch (with breakfast coming soon). Breaking news: This bustling bistro will soon have company — and a little friendly family competition. As we go to press, the Lombardi clan readies for the late May opening of Taverna, their Italian trattoria located mere steps away in the same center. Toulouse Café and Bar, in River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer, 713.871.0768, Laurann Claridge P R O D U C E D B Y M I C H E L L E AV I Ñ A . P H OTO G R A P H Y M A X B U R K H A LT E R . Alberto Lombardi Toulouse Cafe and Bar Bistro touches

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