The benefit of being a part of the Houston style scene for so many years is that you have the opportunity to see a talented and committed designer evolve and mature, taking risks and pushing boundaries. Wednesday night at Fashion Houston, Chloe Dao showed us a mature and luxurious collection that, with the exception of two pieces, didn’t look like collections of the past.  

That’s a compliment by the way.  

Dao opted to show a fall collection since that’s what people want to wear right now. She chose an autumnal palette of black and nude, wine, navy and army green. She teased with sheer black blouses paired with high-waisted pants, little black lace dresses with a carefully placed slash in the back and a smaller slash in the front.  This is one of the best collections Dao has ever sent down the runway. If age means a refined design eye, aging has never looked so good.  

The collection is dressy, but with an air of versatility, ranging from cocktail to evening, and Dao really shone with her handwork and attention to powerful details like feminine collars and embellished cuffs.  “I’m a little obsessed with collar trends. My take on the collar is more feminine since the collar is so masculine,” Dao said. “You don’t want to be a trend victim if you are wearing a collar."  She said she purposely pushed herself, going back to the luxury roots she cut her teeth on in New York.

“I want people to know I can do luxury. Accessible luxury, but still luxury,” Dao said.

Still, the fall collection included styles for every taste, or as Dao says, a sexy piece, a sweet piece and a piece for work.  Dao has always been clear about her commitment to Houston and she reached into the local style community for extra pop compliments of stylist Dawn Bell and Donae Chramosta (aka the Vintage Contessa). Everything from shoes that fit properly (key to a good model walk) to accessories Dao’s looks were creatively elevated.

Dao is by no means old, but she says her design reflects her changing aesthetic, one that is grounded in femininity and a maturing eye.

"I design for all women and there's always an attitude that's playful, but I'm considerate about things like sleeves because women have concerns about their arms," Dao said. "There are so many pieces that anybody can wear."

This is one of the best collections Dao has ever sent down the runway. If age means a refined design eye, aging has never looked so good.