Lourdes Chavez owes a bit of who she is as a designer to the companies she worked for before starting her own more than 10 years ago.
"I have worked at three companies all my life," she said.
From each she brought something valuable to the design table. Seven years at Travilla instilled in her an appreciation for glamour. Bill Travilla was a Hollywood costume designer who created the iconic dress Marilyn Monroe wore over a subway grating in "The Seven Year Itch." Another seven years at Ernst Strauss allowed Lourdes to work with different materials and master tailoring.
"With Travilla I loved the glamour," she said during a visit to Balliet's. "I just can't let it go. I still show a little piece of it. I hope some women will always want to dress and be glamorous, and they do."
At Ernst Strauss, she created daytime pieces out of Ultrasuede, mink, fox and leather. Working for a company known for great tailoring helped her elevate her own skills.
All of that and more rolls into the Lourdes Chavez signature collection featuring daytime, evening and custom pieces. Each is special; there's nothing plain about any of it. She uses all European fabrics that beg to be touched. Seamstresses with an eye for perfection match the lines and prints with precision.
"Fabrics match the way they're supposed to be," she said.
For fall, Chavez offers a champagne-colored tail back jacket that can be worn with the expected pants or unexpectedly over a beaded dress. A gown becomes short when you peel off the ruffled skirt. Many of the pieces feature architectural elements with strong shoulder pads, nipped-in jackets and stacked necklines instead of the traditional V or round.
"I put lots of lines in the dresses and suits," she said. "It's not just two pieces of fabric sewed."