Hilliard to unveil couture collection _lowres

Photo provided -- Lance Harris, left, director of the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, and designer Raoul Blanco will present a couture fundraiser for the museum on May 23.

If you didn’t make Milan this year, you can still see couture fashion, and you can leave your passport at home.

Raoul Blanco’s Couture Fall 2014 Collection will be presented May 23 as a benefit show for the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. Proceeds from “Come Back to Sorrento: Couture for the Fine Arts” will go toward operational costs for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette museum.

“When I first came on board and we met, Raoul expressed his admiration of the building,” said museum director Lance Harris. “I thought about it, and it was a win-win for everybody. Personally, I think it’s a great opportunity for the museum to bring in new people and let the community know we’re branching out.”

The event will be hosted in Gallery B, the museum’s second largest gallery. It will include a silent auction and VIP cocktail reception prior to the runway show.

“I’ve been in love with this museum since I moved here,” said couturier Blanco. “Fine arts are an important part of life.”

Trained by Italian pattern makers, Blanco credits the French with style, but says it’s the Italians who are noted for their fashion perfectionism. He allows fantasy is not saleable and says the collection will be practical as well. The focus will be on skirts, with jackets simply there to complement. There will also be sheer, with several pieces completely so, while others are more serious. The collection will be on the short side hem-wise, no gowns, and will feature jackets with evening shorts as well as bustiers with crystal accents.

“Easy to work pieces from the past combined with the present,” said Blanco.

As for the sheer? “A woman can wear a chemise underneath.”

Guests will also see tulle, coats over lace, matelasse, crepe de chine, color and a lot of black. Even black will have its colorful accents and the emphasis will be on beautiful, rich textiles.

“It’s for the woman who’s not afraid. It’s very feminine, very Italian. You have to be a lady,” he said.

As for Italian women, “I’ve always liked their strong beauty,” said Blanco. “They wear whatever they want, they don’t care. Like Sophia Loren, a woman who knows how to carry herself — that kind of flair.”

Strutting the runway will be Shaquana’s International Modeling Agency with accessories and jewelry from Jody’s of Lafayette. La Marquise will do the shoes. Jennifer Ransonet and Miles Cormier from Bleu West Salon will provide makeup and hair respectively.