So This Happened

Vivienne Tam's Love Letter to Houston Hits New York Fashion Week

The NASA logo has never before been this chic.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen September 15, 2016

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Vivienne Tam's Houston-inspired Spring/Summer 2017 collection.

Houston, as visiting travel writers love to point out, is ugly. And sprawling, and hot, etc., but mostly ugly. But that's not what fashion designer Vivienne Tam sees in the city.

For her Spring/Summer 2017 collection—unveiled at Moynihan Station on Monday as part of New York Fashion Week—Tam was inspired by "the vibrant diversity and energy of Houston, Texas where art, music, culinary arts, science and technology intersect harmoniously in a multicultural cornucopia." 

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Fashion designer Vivienne Tam

The 44 looks in the collection featured more Bayou City insignia than Gonzo 247 can cram into a mural. There were NASA logos, many of them featured as textural overlays and embellishments, along with logos of Rice University, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Houston Ballet and other local symbols, obtained with the help of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There were several pieces that played with the cowboy aesthetic, including Western-style silver belt buckles, fringe and embroidered shirts, but there were also references to space, especially pieces in galactic silver metallic, plus Astros orange, denim and vibrant takes on the state's natural elements, including florals, stunning butterfly appliqués and even a few armadillos hidden in prints.

If nothing else, Houstonians will want to get their hands on her slide-on sneakers, which turn all the Houston insignia into a surprisingly awesome print that may or may not owe a certain amount of inspiration to this DIY pair.

Though it's certainly far from what's expected at Fashion Week, Vogue's Emily Farra mostly thought Tam's Houston take worked:

At times, the mashed-up references felt a little too full-on—it’s hard to picture any woman wearing a tie-dye dress with NASA patches, pixelated Houston Rodeo logos, and armadillos stamped all over it—but there were times when the Western vibe felt fresh. One blouse with ruffled sleeves was done in a classic blue-and-white Chinese motif, but instead of being printed on silk, it was embroidered like a Mexican blouse. It was one of the better examples of East meeting West. Similarly, the lacy finale dress was covered in Tam’s signature 3-D butterflies and just a few NASA references, with a black Western belt cinched at the waist.

The whole collection is fascinating in its utter diversity, from the delicately pretty baby doll dresses to rough and tumble Western wear, with a little bit of '70s inspiration and tie dye thrown in for good measure. Honestly, if it weren't a little bit of everything, it wouldn't be as true to Houston.

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