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All Hail, Cesar

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Houston bound: Cesar Galindo returns to his hometown this month to show his new collection. Galindo is pictured here with Gwen Stefani, with whom he recently collaborated on her fashion line, L.A.M.B.

Hometown fashion hero Cesar Galindo returns in style

by Marene Gustin

Designer Cesar Galindo is riding high these days. Fresh off his success working with Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. fashion line, which fashionistas applauded last month during New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, he’s headed home to show his own women’s wear line at the first annual Fashion Houston 2010 event. “I’m really excited to go back to my hometown to show my collection,” he says. “My collection will be the first, and it will set the bar at the event. Houston has to represent. And I love that the shows are being held in the Wortham Theater Center’s foyer—it’s such a beautiful venue.”

It’s been a longtime dream of Galindo’s to see a fashion week in his hometown on a scale like New York City’s. He kicked the idea around more than a year ago with some city folk while helping the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau promote Houston. “Houston is all about fashion,” Galindo says. And the women here love to buy clothes.”

Now, the fashion week is a reality. October 11 through 14 runway shows will rock the Wortham with collections from Lyn Devon, David Peck, Marc Bouwer, and the top local fashion folk such as Chloe Dao, Toni Whitaker, and Elaine Turner. Fashion icons Eileen Ford and our own Lynn Wyatt will be there, as well as Galindo’s family. “Of course they’ll be there,” the designer says. “We’re a small Texas village by ourselves.”

The 44-year-old Galindo grew up in Houston, the youngest of 11 children. He graduated from Milby High School but he learned his trade from his mom, who made all of her own dresses. His father, who ran meat markets, taught him how to run a business. But back then there weren’t a lot of fashion designers in town, so Galindo loaded up a U-Haul and moved to the Big Apple.

This beautiful gown by Cesar Galindo is part of a past collection. His current line was being produced as OutSmart went to press—as Galindo said, “It’s under a sewing machine at the moment.”

Before long he was working with Calvin Klein Women’s Collection, Carmelo Pomodoro’s, developed the U.S. presence of TSE cashmere, and began designing his own signature label, selling to upscale designer boutiques including Martha Henri Bendel, as well as large store chains such as Bloomingdale’s. And he’s created one-of-a-kind outfits for the likes of Mariah Carey and Kelly Clarkson.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been roses. Less than three years ago, his longtime partner was diagnosed with colon cancer. “Seth was a big part of who I am and of the business,” Galindo says. “Everything got put on pause. You go through something like that and you just do all you can and follow your heart. He died about a year later, and I still think of him. I’m just now getting myself back out there—it’s part of the healing process.”

And Galindo is getting back in the dress game in a big way. Besides his work on L.A.M.B., he’ll also be designing costumes for Houston Grand  Opera’s world premiere of To Cross the Face of the Moon/Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, the world’s first mariachi opera that debuts here in November. “I’ve done one opera before,” he says. “I really enjoy seeing my clothes on stage in a story. It’s very different than creating a dress that gets sold to someone and you never get to see them wearing it.”

As for his current collection, the modern, almost futuristic clean lines and bright colors will dazzle attendees at the Fashion Houston 2010 event. This season’s palette is blue-based with lots of indigo, copper, and gold, with splashes of coral and red. The must-have items this season are his little cocktail dress and a lightweight trench. Perfect, he says, for Houston weather.

And while Galindo will certainly be wining and dining on the Fashion Houston party circuit, there’s one other place you might spot him while he’s in town. He’s still a big lover of Luby’s baked Almondine fish and Texas iced tea. “I want to spend time with my family, eat at Luby’s, of course, and maybe get my fajita fix at Ninfa’s on Navigation.” Sounds like fun to us!

And it just goes to show that even though Galindo is a hotshot Seventh Avenue designer to the stars, he’s still just a hometown boy at heart.

Fashion Houston 2010

Evening runway shows and more, 5–11 p.m., October 11–14, at the Wortham Theater Center. For tickets and information, visit www.fashionhouston.net, or call the Wortham Center box office at 713/222-5400.

Marene Gustin is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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