Marlene H' Couture, S/S 2017

Indiana is no stranger to fashion. Of course, most people think immediately of the late Bill Blass, a Fort Wayne native who proved that Midwestern sensibilities can make sense in the luxury fashion world of New York. There are a large number of designers spread across Indiana, though, and Pattern has helped highlight some of their work. Getting from Indiana and onto the official schedule for New York Fashion Week isn’t easy. Just showing in the city, even off-schedule, is expensive and requires a lot of support. For all the wonderful designers in this state, it’s been a while since one made it onto the main calendar.

Now, both Indiana and Fort Wayne can count another win as Marlene H’ Couture was listed on this season’s official calendar and showed this afternoon at 404 NYC on 10th street. To say that designer Marlene Thomas has worked hard to get there would be an understatement. Four years have passed since I last shot some of Marlene’s designs at a local event. In that time, she has circumnavigated the planet more than once building her brand and her international presence. Seeing the smile on her face this afternoon tells me all the hard work was worth the effort.

Anyone familiar with Marli’s work wasn’t surprised by the bright colors in this afternoon’s collections. There is always a rainbow of color in Mrs. Thomas’ clothes and those colors are rarely muted. Even when working with pastels, such as a yellow top with sheer shoulders over a sheer light blue skirt, the colors manage to pop. This is not a collection meant for wallflowers. Wearing Marlene H’ Couture brings with it the promise that one is going to be noticed. Stand by for the compliments.

There is some incredible detail in this collection as well. The piece that really stood out in that regard is a light blue top with sheer panels on which are embroidered a couple of birds surrounded by flowers. Here is a good place to mention that Marlene does all this work herself. She doesn’t have hordes of designers slaving away without credit in a back room somewhere. Where she finds the time to do all this while raising two children is all the more astonishing.

Her finalé piece was a gorgeous dress of blue and gold with a bustier top and a plethora of ruffles crowned with a turban-styled headpiece with blue feathers. I’ve seen a lot of Marlene’s work over the years and this piece is truly exceptional. I will be very surprised if she doesn’t receive a significant number of orders for that dress alone.

Mrs. Thomas is represented by FTL Moda who produced this afternoon’s show and it is there that I have a lone complaint: the lighting for the event was insufficient. Obviously, I don’t blame Marlene for this as it was well out of her control. FTL Moda’s reputation is better than this, however, and I expected them to provide a more flattering presentation environment for all their designers. Marli’s bright colors weren’t hidden in the shadows, of course, but professional lighting would have given guests a much better idea of how brilliant the ensembles are.

We’re excited to have an Indiana designer on the main calendar! I’m sure this won’t be the last time New York will see Marlene H’ Couture, either. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what she does next.

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