Kors Delight
DALLAS--"This is Dallas and I can't get a stiletto heel? What is wrong with this place?" Michael Kors is teasing saleswomen at The Gazebo, where he's showing them his fall collection on the morning of a trunk show. Right off the bat, he can't find the right shoe for the model who's wearing his long, clingy matte jersey dress.
"You know what it's all about, girls--looking thin and tall," he pronounces, assuring them that a particular baby-doll dress is flattering and not fattening. "Call us shallow, but you don't spend your life on the StairMaster for nothing. You don't do it for your health! It's all about vanity!"
The standup routine is a biannual ritual for the designer, who makes The Gazebo one of the regular stops on his trunk show tour--partly because he does good business with the store, and partly because he knows several of the customers and likes to learn what they're looking for.
Kors displays to the nine saleswomen a windowpane-plaid T-shirt minidress topped by a boxy double-breasted jacket and declares, "Jackets are changing. The whole thing of a long jacket over a tight skirt is over."
Later, Kors says that jackets in his next collection for resort will be very soft, falling from the waist to the hip bone. Other key upcoming looks: pastels; knee-length hemlines that are slipped, unbuttoned and wrapped, and lots of unstructured, two-piece dressing.
Despite the vaunted return to glamour in fall collections, Kors still shows elegantly cut minimalist styles. "What we do is very simple and understated," he acknowledges. "There's a terrible misconception that women in Texas don't understand understated simplicity. I think they do, but they want to look feminine and upbeat."
Gazebo customers proved his point; the two-day trunk show did $95,000 in sales, with the most popular item a lavender wool melton dress with a boxy jacket for $1,400 that sold more than 20 units.
Last spring, Kors broadened his price range by dropping the bottom retail price of jackets to $600 from $750. He's also talking about getting back into the bridge market.
"We'll definitely do something else again, but we haven't found the right partner," Kors noted. Stay tuned.Taking Flight
HOUSTON--A 40-foot waterfall and a rainforest setting are certainly spectacular, but they aren't the main attractions at the newest wing of the Houston Museum of Natural Science: It's the butterflies. The Cockrell Butterfly Center, which opened last month, is a giant terrarium filled with thousands of the colorful creatures fluttering freely about. Visitors wearing bright colors might even convince a butterfly to land on them.
The Butterfly Center houses tropical butterfly species, as well as some native to Texas and the U.S. Since butterflies live only a few weeks, new butterflies are constantly being introduced. About 30 percent are raised locally by museum staff, and the rest are imported as pupae from butterfly farms in Central and South America and tropical Asia. The success of these farms--that depend on materials from the rainforest--encourages conservation of the forests as a sustainable crop.
For fans of entomology, an adjacent hall next door displays some of the museum's 100,000 dried butterflies, moths, beetles and other insects. The museum is open seven days a week, and admission to the Butterfly Center is $3 for adults and $2 for children.

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