High-End Fashion with El Paso Roots

logo_blkWe absolutely love seeing El Paso and Juarez natives excelling in the fashion world! So we’re especially thrilled to tell you about Leigh Elena Navarro, 1996 Coronado High School grad, who will be visiting the city next week from her home in Austin. This gifted designer and entrepreneur has her own design line, known as LeighElena, featuring jewelry and other accessories that reflect her clean and interesting design aesthetic.

After graduating from the University of San Diego with a degree in Spanish and business, Navarro spent a number of years working in fashion and high-end retail in Los Angeles and New York. She moved back to Texas in 2005 to start her jewelry business.

Lots of people don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, but you could say that Navarro found her calling at the age of five. That’s when she began learning how to fuse enamel and glass together: her first teacher was her mother, Susan Navarro, a talented enamel artist. As a child, Leigh helped her mother at art fairs and then started creating and selling her own hand-made jewelry. Today Susan helps her daughter.

“My mom and I still do the enameling together here in Austin,” Leigh says. “The leather work is now done in a couple factories here in Texas and everything is finished in Austin.”

Her signature pieces include contemporary cuff bracelets featuring distinctive metal clasps. After a couple years in her new business, she began using leather and genuine exotic skins, such as alligator, stingray, python and ostrich, and the brand took off. The bracelets, in vivid dyed leathers and natural colors, are unique and striking.

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Since she started the LeighElena line, the bracelets have developed an international following. They have been featured in both fashion and lifestyle magazines such as Southern Living and Lucky. Her accessories are carried at both large retailers, such as Anthopologie and Neiman Marcus, and small boutiques.

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Some of her work has even found its way into celebrities’ jewelry collections. She’s seen her bracelets in photographs of such stars as singer Miranda Lambert and television host Hoda Kotb. “Many years ago I had a picture of Barbara Walters hugging Oprah with my bracelet on,” she recalls. “That was pretty fun!”

Navarro is inspired by role models such as Donna Karan. “I appreciate what Donna Karan does so much, because she created beautiful things for women that are truly wearable,” she says.  “She is a smart, strong woman and that comes across in her lines.”

She also is inspired by what she sees on her frequent trips in the United States and abroad.
“I travel extensively for personal inspiration as well as inspiration for my lines,” she says. “I travel about four or five months out of the year for both work and play. I find it fascinating to see what people think is beautiful, useful and adored.”

One of her favorite destinations is Mexico. “I will be there almost monthly over the year,” she says. “Guadalajara was a wonderful trip I took with a couple great friends in March.  I cannot wait to return!”

Coming up next for Navarro is a line of Native American-inspired pieces. “It is similar to pieces that my mom and her mom wore and treasures I have had growing up,” she says. “I love gold tones and I am making this line entirely in bronze.”

Navarro still has relatives in El Paso, including her father and his sisters and some cousins. She is looking forward to visiting this week for a trunk show at Tres Mariposas. It will be just the second time her work has been spotlighted in her hometown; a few years ago she showed her accessories at the Ruby and Lola store.

What can shoppers and friends expect at the trunk show? “I will have my best pieces from my collection with me,” Navarro says. “And there will be surprise gifts with purchase, too!” she says.

Where can you see LeighElena accessories?

LeighElena Trunk Show at Tres Mariposas
5857 North Mesa Street
Thursday and Friday, June 15 and 16
Leighelena SoCo
1714 S Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas
Leighelena Pearl Brewery
303 Pearl Parkway, San Antonio, Texas
 Trunk Cover
 

For spring, think bohemian, pastels and stripes

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Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends – and you got some fun new clothes either for yourself or as gifts!

Who knows what the New Year will bring? Let us hope for a peaceful, prosperous year with a new burst of kindness and compassion for all.

While we have no idea about the country’s future, I’m glad to tell you about the future of fashion trends starting this spring. Up in New York and across the Atlantic in Paris, the experts have conducted their research and made their predictions. Here’s a sneak preview of top spring trends, starting with the most important colors.

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• Pretty pastels: You can expect to see buttercup and sunshine yellow and 50 shades of pink from “sunset hot” pink to the palest ghostly pink. In a class to itself, the new “powdery pastels” are muted with white and take on almost a neutral feel.

• Fruity and festive: The colors of melons add a tasty tang, including cantaloupe, casaba and honeydew, along with peachy hues ranging from coral to light peach fuzz. Another warm color to watch for is true apple red, a pure crimson color with no orange, brown or violet undertones.

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• White, white, white: This spring brings lots of white accents, in white lace, white sheer inserts, white trim. Crisp white shirts will always be in style, whether they are short or tunic-length.

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• Green and blue: We’ll be seeing more green than in previous years, including leaf green that’s the color of palm fronds, emerald green, the slightly darker malachite green and acid green, which has a touch of yellow in it. Cobalt blue will remain big, along with royal blue.

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• Stripes: Wide, narrow, wavy, variegated, broken – all kinds of stripes abound on dresses and tops. Even athletic pants and jackets will feature stripes this spring.

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• Bohemian style: I discussed this as a major trend last fall and it is definitely continuing into 2016. This trend encompasses “hippie” styles, loose sheer peasant blouses, Indian print tunics, ponchos, maxi-dresses, funky elements, artsy folkloric motifs and more.

• Embellishments: In keeping with this bohemian trend are all sorts of interesting details including tassels, appliquéd jewels, embroidery, beading, lace, sequins, fancy buttons, burnout velvet, raw edges, lacing with grommets and lots and lots of fringe.

• Textures: Fabrics continue to be highly tactile with interesting laser-cut designs, perforations, mesh, crochet trims and chiffon accents.

• Denim: America’s favorite fabric is back with a passion, in all washes and finishes from distressed-ripped to dressy dark. Skinny jeans still dominate, but bootleg and flare are still with us. It’s been a few years, but culottes in denim may catch on this spring; shorts and jackets have never gone away.

• The “new” twin-set: While we will still see plenty of knit tank tops and little T-shirts under cardigans, this season also brings cute shorter, cropped tops and matching jackets in woven fabrics.

• Pants: Not much news here, except watch for wider legs and flowy drawstring styles. You can expect less emphasis on leggings – and no yoga pants outside the yoga class.

Stay tuned for more on these 2016 spring trends. If I had a crystal ball, I’d say that 2016 is shaping up to be a fun fashion year!

The Mother of Invention: El Pasoan creates fashion line

We have all had the experience of wanting or needing something that seems like it would be the easiest thing in the world to find. We go looking. Nowhere to be found. And we say to ourselves, “I can’t believe no one’s making that. Crazy.”

Most of us let it go at that.

Amy Robison Graham, daughter of well-known El Paso business leaders and philanthropists Kirk and Judy Robison, didn’t let it go at that.

Designer: Amy Robison Graham

Designer: Amy Robison Graham

Amy is an energetic, vivacious, get-it-done kind of girl. After over 20 years in high-level sales and marketing roles for major corporations, this Dallas resident and mother of four decided to pursue her own business that reflects her love of fashion.

Amy told me that even though there are a million t-shirts out there on the market, she was frustrated at not being able to find the perfect t-shirt. All she wanted was a good quality t-shirt that was both flattering and comfortable. How hard could that be? When she checked around, she wasn’t the only woman with this frustration.

Left to right: Kirk Robison (Amy's Father), Amy Robison Graham,  John Graham (Amy's Husband)

Left to right: Kirk Robison (Amy’s Father), Amy Robison Graham, John Graham (Amy’s Husband)

Amy and Mother, Judy Robison

Amy and Mother, Judy Robison

So Amy started researching women’s clothing, fabric, fit and comfort, particularly with the ideal t-shirt in mind. Her work has paid off: this fall she launched a great line of t-shirts under the name of Southcott Threads, named in honor of her mother-in-law’s maiden name.

She didn’t just set out to make a great t-shirt for women just like her. After exhaustive research, Amy selected four fit models who had four distinct body shapes. She then experimented with the most flattering style for each shape. I love how she names the shapes with different cuts of diamonds: Emerald (slender and busty), Oval (curvy and voluptuous), Trillion (narrow shoulders and bigger booties), and Asscher (small frame and well-proportioned).

On Amy’s spring 2016 style sheet, you can tell which of the 16 t-shirt styles was designed for which body shape by the accompanying symbol for that type of diamond. For instance, an emerald appears next to a pretty v-neck and a sleeveless open neck tank and the triangular shaped diamond is next to an A-line scoop-neck. Sizes come in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Finding the right fabric was critical. After much exploration she selected a fabric of environmentally friendly bamboo with cotton and a touch of spandex. The result is a line of luxury t-shirts that fit well, are comfortable, not clingy, not see-through, and made from great quality fabric. And the neutral colors – white, black, grey, navy, and tan – are just what we all need in our wardrobes.

What could be a better way to introduce a new line of t-shirts to El Paso than a t-party? Whether you remember Amy from her years growing up here or you have also longed for a t-shirt that looks good and fits well, stop by Tres Mariposas on Tuesday, November 10, between 10:00am and 5:00pm – and have a cup of tea at our t-party!

Escada’s Fall 2015 Collection Comes to El Paso

We had an unusually fun and amazing event take place at Tres Mariposas last week.Let me start by sharing some insights into the apparel buying cycle. Like other fashion retailers, we go to different markets for different lines. Normally, we buy high-end and European lines the furthest in advance and in New York.

These designers do not take their lines to the regional markets like Dallas or Los Angeles. And the more premium the fabrics and construction, the longer lead time is needed. The high level of quality means these are not fast-fashion productions.Escada dress

Every February, we shop Escada, the famous German luxury collection. This February, however, the collection was not in their New York showroom due to unusual circumstances.

Helen Mirren in Escada

Happily, Escada offered to bring the entire fall 2015 collection to El Paso so we could see it all here, right in our own store. “We will just bring the showroom to you,” declared Rebecca Evans of Escada. What a fabulous idea!

And what an unforgettable sight it was to see all the beautiful dresses, tops, jackets, skirts and pants in all their glory, right here in El Paso. Unlike our typical New York showroom experience, we had the luxury of more time to get to know the collection – and we got to hear reactions and recommendations from all our staff and even a few customers.

I have a special affinity for Escada. The brand was founded in 1978, the same year I came to Tres Mariposas. A few years later, an Escada outfit – a peasant-influenced skirt and blouse – was my first-ever luxury apparel purchase.

I felt on top of the world when I wore it. The fabric was divine. The fit was perfect. The workmanship was flawless. There really is a significant difference in luxury apparel; I felt elevated and special.

Escada had interesting beginnings. Margaretha Ley, a model and designer, and her husband, Wolfgang Ley, were on holiday in Spain when they bet on a winning Irish racehorse named Escada. The winnings became the seed money for Escada the brand.

Miranda Kerr in Escada

Miranda Kerr in Escada

Margaretha’s distinctive creations with their unusual combinations of colors and patterns soon stood out in the fashion world. Escada became Germany’s leading luxury fashion brand and a leading player in the global luxury clothing market. North America became a strong market, in part because of American women’s love of color. Today Escada is a go-to brand for celebrities and many of America’s best-dressed, most stylish women.

Rebecca Evans (Escada) and Bobbie Baldridge (Tres Mariposas)

Rebecca Evans (Escada) and Bobbie Baldridge (Tres Mariposas)

Having the complete Escada line at Tres Mariposas for our buyers to make their selections was such a treat. We had a great time – too bad we can’t always get a major fashion design house to come to us!