Vivian Wise, founder of the Heart of Fashion, which is Nov. 18-20 at the Millionaire Club at Hobby Airport. Photo: Phoebe Oé­Rourke 

(Photo:formal dresses)At a recent private showing of Nicolas Ghesquière’s resort collection for Louis Vuitton at its Galleria store, Vivian Wise chatted with guests about seeing the show for first time in Palm Springs in May.

She described Ghesquière’s sequins, flip flops, sweatshirts and leather pieces as breathtaking. “It’s quite incredible that a little girl from El Paso was there to experience such a beautiful collection,” she said of herselfWise, 43, is more than a fan of fashion. She’s a style eccentric who was born and raised in the Texas border town, a “weird wonderful place to grow up.””It’s a big city and small town,” she said. “But just because we were in the middle of nowhere doesn’t mean we didn’t have style. We made it with what we had.”Her father, lawyer Bill Wise, founded El Paso Natural Gas and was CEO of El Paso Energy until he retired in 2003. Her mother, Marie Figge Wise, is an impressionistic painter. She has two younger sisters – Genna Evans and Mary Elizabeth Sand – who also later moved to Houston.

Wise said she fell in love with fashion early and looked to her grandmother, Elizabeth Kahl Figge, for inspiration.”She was always impeccably dressed. She wore corsets and would go to Paris for the shows,” Wise said. “She always said, ‘Dress the way you want to feel.’ She understood a wardrobe is the best elevator for your mood.”Wise embraces that philosophy, while adding her own eclectic spin to her style. She would tie many bows around the curls in her hair in high school just to be decorative. She’d wear a 1940s pencil skirt with an angora sweater one day, then dress up in combat boots and a hat the next.”I’ve always been weird, and I’ve always been fabulous. I came into the world that way,” said Wise, who ended up with pink hair three years ago by accident and kept it because it made “her mother crazy.”A graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder with a degree in English literature, Wise opened the Velvet Slipper luxury shoe store in Boulder in 1996. She opened a second location in Uptown Park in 2000 and maintained both for a while, then decided to focus on Houston.

In 2004, she went through a divorce and closed the store then spent the next decade trying to get the “wanderlust and gypsy out of her soul and grow up,” she said.In 2014, Wise transformed an Airstream trailer into a luxury fashion-event concept which she calls Babette and rents out for private parties and special events. Later that year, she partnered with Jared Lang, founder of FashionHouston, a four-day fashion week that was last held November 2014. Their business relationship dissolved in April.”We should have talked it out further before we partnered because we had a very different idea and vision for the event,” she said.Now she’s trying a new approach, and on Wednesday, she’ll unveil “The Heart of Fashion,” a three-day runway fashion event at the Million Air near Hobby Airport. Featured designers include Cushnie et Ochs, Angel Sanchez, Peter Cohen, Ungaro and retailers M. Penner, Stag Provisions, Valobra, Neiman Marcus, Tootsies and Sloan Hall.Proceeds from each night go to one of three charities: Meals on Wheels, Legacy Community Health Services and Butterflys and Bandages.Her mission is to celebrate fashion, while helping the community. “You have to take care of the world and looking pretty is a major bonus,” she said.Read more at:celebrity dresses

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