For the past fifteen years, Houston-based accessories designer Elaine Turner has slowly been building her fashion empire shoe by shoe, handbag by handbag. What began as a small luxury line has transformed into an enviable lifestyle brand with storefronts in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York and Nashville.
This week Turner took her company in a new direction with the release of her first clothing line. The designer’s inaugural apparel collection features an assortment of comfortable yet incredibly chic dresses, tops, pants and shorts.
What’s more, an acute sense of Texas style is captured in the bright turquoise and coral hues, snake prints and wonderfully airy fabrics (it is hot here after all!). That’s one of the things Houston fashionistas love most about Turner: despite her success, she has never failed to pay homage to her beloved hometown. We chatted with Turner about her newest clothing line, where she shops around town and what’s in the cards for this growing company.
Houstonia: Tell me about the decision to release a clothing line. Was this something you always imagined for yourself, or was it something that came to you later in your career?Turner: I have always had a passion for accessories. Sometimes you put on a pair of jeans or a dress and it might feel a little tight, which might not make you feel the best about yourself! Shoes always fit. Handbags and jewelry always ft. That feel-good part is what I always want to capture. I created my clothing line with just that in mind: easy-to-wear caftans, shorts that hit at just the right spot to flatter the leg and tunics in a material that feels soft and comfortable on the skin while still making you feel glamorous and pulled together.
Tell me about the process of brainstorming, executing and releasing the line.
I had a lot in mind going into it and my design team put a lot of hard work into finding the right materials, prints and silhouettes for the collection so that it is truly representative of the brand and my vision. I want women to fall in love with the pieces and how good they feel when they’re wearing it.
Who did you have in mind when you were designing the line?
Of course our core customer, but I really believe that the line can be worn through different generations. I love the idea of a mother, daughter and grandmother coming into the store and shopping together and having one store to do that. We designed every piece in the collection with this in mind, and it should fit into one of these categories. Some pieces might work for all ages like our Willa Bamboo Stud Earrings, and the notion behind them is one of good luck, strength and resilience. They are perfect for everyday wear and are definitely multi-generational. Our Heather Tunic Top is also a great piece for women of all ages and styles.
What were the main inspirations behind this line?
I love to have fun with fashion, so we created a custom Elaine Turner python print! Also the gold fringe on the Gabriella Tunic is handwoven. The idea of travel and escapism always play a big part in all of my collections, and the same holds true for what I want [a customer's] experience in the store to be. We want her to be able to come into our stores, sit on the pink sofas, maybe have a glass of wine and tell us about her day. And if she treats herself to something in the process that is a bonus! The main goal of my stores is to create a platform for women to connect with each other and themselves and leave feeling recharged and a little more glamorous.
Will we see anything in the new apparel that captures the Lone Star State?
Of course I am a true Texan and I love animal prints. The python definitely speaks to the big Texas glamour and the fun, brightly colored pieces also speak to that. I don’t like to take myself too seriously.
Is there a particular Elaine Turner garment that you fell in love with during the design process?
I’ve worn the Lainey Kaftan in navy and python multiple times already! It is perfect for luncheons, dinner dates and even over a swimsuit at the beach.
In terms of clothing, who are your favorite designers?
I love other Houston designers like Rebecca Hallam and Claridge + King. We carry both of their lines in all of the stores. David Peck designs a lot of the dresses I wear. Carolina Herrera is a personal favorite for her elegance and grace, which is seen in all her designs.
What’s next for Elaine Turner?
I find keeping a life balance so important. I love what I do, but I know it is just as important to make time for myself through yoga and meditation. I’ve been striving to life by the mantra of acceptance and embracing being perfectly imperfect. This has allowed me to really tap into this and become the best wife, mother and business owner I can be and to truly enjoy the beauty of the day to day.
Elaine Turner's apparel is available for purchase in her Houston stores or online.