HOUS November 2012 : Page 44

44 | the loop | shops Fur & Away With her fur line gaining fashionista fans, a Houston designer takes the cape! | By Amber Bell | | Photography by Julie Soefer | When then-new New York import Michelle Fahrenbach hosted her first H-Town trunk show, at Uptown Park on a steamy September day in 2009, featuring pieces from her Houston-manufactured Anna Irion fur line, she couldn’t believe the turnout. “Women were buying shawls with fur in 106-degree weather,” she says of her collection of wraps, tunics and ponchos. “The only other place that would happen is Singapore or Dubai.” Now, as she expands her collection—this season it includes collars and muffs for the first time, in newly added furs like bleached raccoon—Fahrenbach, 47, and hubby James are looking to put down roots and build a home here. “We love the energy and growth,” says Fahrenbach of H-Town. A native of Montoursville, Penn., Fahrenbach has been on the textile scene from a young age. The ambitious blonde graduated from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in textile chemistry. Post-grad, she worked for Arthur Khan to help develop Gore-Tex Fabrics and designed fabric at Forstmann, the world’s largest woolen mill, and later became a color consultant for textile mills around the globe, forecasting hues for seasonal palettes. Eventually, she and her husband decided to make the move from New York to H-Town for his business—he owns Pan Asian Chemical—and relocated with their son, Austin, now 10. “It’s like a ‘can do’ attitude down here,” notes Fahrenbach. “That’s what got me energized.” Fahrenbach had also long been energized by the idea of working with luxury fabrics, often keeping samples of this or that around, and dreaming of one day leaping into fashion design. When she got her hands on some silver-fox fur, right around the time she moved, something clicked. Fur! Developing a line of fur pieces was not only the creative challenge she’d been craving but also a match with her own personal style. She dresses simple and chic, often favoring black pants and a classic-cut top. And, for Fahrenbach, adding just the right extra layer to an outfit is like wearing exquisite jewels. “I wanted the furs to be smaller and lighter, not the heavy look of the past,” she says of her line of “wearable accessories,” Anna Irion, whose name comes from her middle and maiden names. “It’s jewelry, but it’s textile.” Hides to seek Fahrenbach’s latest Fahrenbach creates sexy pieces that additions to her Anna are exotic yet classic, inspired by Euro-irion line of fur chic fashion houses and her Italian accessories include capelets and muffs. travels. Her latest collection includes capelets—waist-long cashmere or wool capes with collars of silver-fox or coyote. “It looks great with a little black dress,” she says, “or, instead of a coat, you can put it on over a pair of jeans.” The designer—who has Finnish pelts cut in New York City (where she still lives part time), and has pieces assembled in Houston—has cultivated a following in far-flung locales. In Colorado, ski bunnies clamor for her shawls at Vail’s high-end skiwear retailer Gorsuch. She also sells at various shops in Palm Beach, throughout the Midwest and even in Shanghai. In Houston, Anna Irion is newly available at Mint (1121-07 Uptown Park Blvd., 713.977.4460) and Coquette (1848 Westheimer Rd., 713.527.7377). As Fahrenbach continues with trunk shows at area boutiques—including River Oaks Country Club’s annual holiday market Nov. 4-5—and contemplates a pop-up shop, she has every intention of making herself at home here, fur and all. “Houston is the right place to be,” says Fahrenbach. “The country’s best-kept secret.” | November 2012

The Loop Shops

Amber Bell

Fur & Away

With her fur line gaining fashionista fans, a Houston designer takes the cape!

When then-new New York import Michelle Fahrenbach hosted her first H-Town trunk show, at Uptown Park on a steamy September day in 2009, featuring pieces from her Houston-manufactured Anna Irion fur line, she couldn’t believe the turnout. “Women were buying shawls with fur in 106-degree weather,” she says of her collection of wraps, tunics and ponchos. “The only other place that would happen is Singapore or Dubai.”

Now, as she expands her collection—this season it includes collars and muffs for the first time, in newly added furs like bleached raccoon—Fahrenbach, 47, and hubby James are looking to put down roots and build a home here. “We love the energy and growth,” says Fahrenbach of H-Town.

A native of Montoursville, Penn., Fahrenbach has been on the textile scene from a young age. The ambitious blonde graduated from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in textile chemistry. Post-grad, she worked for Arthur Khan to help develop Gore-Tex Fabrics and designed fabric at Forstmann, the world’s largest woolen mill, and later became a color consultant for textile mills around the globe, forecasting hues for seasonal palettes.

Eventually, she and her husband decided to make the move from New York to H-Town for his business—he owns Pan Asian Chemical—and relocated with their son, Austin, now 10. “It’s like a ‘can do’ attitude down here,” notes Fahrenbach. “That’s what got me energized.”

Fahrenbach had also long been energized by the idea of working with luxury fabrics, often keeping samples of this or that around, and dreaming of one day leaping into fashion design. When she got her hands on some silver-fox fur, right around the time she moved, something clicked. Fur! Developing a line of fur pieces was not only the creative challenge she’d been craving but also a match with her own personal style.

She dresses simple and chic, often favoring black pants and a classic-cut top. And, for Fahrenbach, adding just the right extra layer to an outfit is like wearing exquisite jewels. “I wanted the furs to be smaller and lighter, not the heavy look of the past,” she says of her line of “wearable accessories,” Anna Irion, whose name comes from her middle and maiden names. “It’s jewelry, but it’s textile.”

Fahrenbach creates sexy pieces that are exotic yet classic, inspired by Eurochic fashion houses and her Italian travels. Her latest collection includes capelets—waist-long cashmere or wool capes with collars of silver-fox or coyote. “It looks great with a little black dress,” she says, “or, instead of a coat, you can put it on over a pair of jeans.”

The designer—who has Finnish pelts cut in New York City (where she still lives part time), and has pieces assembled in Houston—has cultivated a following in far-flung locales. In Colorado, ski bunnies clamor for her shawls at Vail’s high-end skiwear retailer Gorsuch. She also sells at various shops in Palm Beach, throughout the Midwest and even in Shanghai. In Houston, Anna Irion is newly available at Mint (1121-07 Uptown Park Blvd., 713.977.4460) and Coquette (1848 Westheimer Rd., 713.527.7377).

As Fahrenbach continues with trunk shows at area boutiques—including River Oaks Country Club’s annual holiday market Nov. 4-5—and contemplates a pop-up shop, she has every intention of making herself at home here, fur and all. “Houston is the right place to be,” says Fahrenbach. “The country’s best-kept secret.”

Read the full article at http://digital.modernluxury.com/article/The+Loop+Shops/1220297/132030/article.html.

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