Chloe Dao Shows Off The Bearable "Lightness" of Being (a Project Runway Winner)

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Photos by Hallie Jordan
Chloe Dao, Project Runway's season 2 winner, showcased her newest line, "Lightness" during her spring 2010 fashion show Saturday night at Warehouse Live.

From the shoes the models wore -- heels made of Plexiglas with decorative mirror pieces -- to the white silk chiffon dresses, Dao did everything to emphasize and describe "lightness."

"I really want to show what I was trying to visualize without verbally saying it," Dao said. "If it wasn't called lightness it would be 'Ethereal.'"

The theme was also a way of integrating the launch of her bridal collection with spring.

Dao used mostly silk chiffon in her collection because she thought it worked best to reflect light.

"It plays with softness and contrasts the hardness of my other fabrics," Dao said. "I did a lot of the seaming detail and used fabric that is see through to catch the light."

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Dao addresses her guests.
Spending three months on the collection, Dao says some dresses take only four hours to make but others can take weeks.

"Lightness" is also intended as a response to her fall collection, "Death Destruction and Rebirth," which she fittingly described as "dark, dark, dark."

"It was a story," Dao said. "In the beginning it was death. I used metallic, dark, slashed fabric with a raw edge. And then there was destruction, so I used more decaying colors like brown and red, but still dark. And finally rebirth. There is always growth afterwards."

Dao made sure to emphasize that "at the end of the day I'm an optimistic person."

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The show, which attracted 700 people, also helped raise money for the Fairy God Mother project--an organization that provides free prom dresses and tuxedos to students who can't afford them.

"We don't just do the show for no reason, we need to give money back to charity," Dao said. "Every year we give money for the charity. We are about making people happy with clothes, it may sound frivolous but I don't think it is. All girls think about prom. It's that day to be as glamorous as you can and we help give them that moment."

Dao has been designing since she made her own prom dress during high school. She was attending the University of Houston when she happened to watch the 1989 film The Dead Poet's Society.

"That pretty much changed my life and I decided I was going to follow my dream," Dao said.

Soon after she dropped out of U of H, where she was studying marketing, and attended Houston Community College's design program, eventually transferring to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. There she earned a degree in pattern making.

"I went to New York for the weekend and I called my mom and told her I wasn't coming back," Dao said.

Moving back to Houston eight years later, Dao has no plans to leave.

"I want to stay in Houston forever. Houston is a very cosmopolitan city; you can do it all from here. Everywhere else is only a flight away," Dao said.

Dao's collection can be seen at her boutique, Lot 8 -- named after the eight girls in her family -- which is located at 6127 Kirby.

For more photos from the runway, check out our slideshow.


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