Mother’s Day Issue: Marlaine’s Refined Classic Style

My stylish momma in the ’80s.

I owe my mom everything. My life, sense of humor, and style. Since I was little, I was constantly inspired by my mother, Marlaine, and how she expressed herself through fashion. Especially when we visited the Caribbean, where we vacationed often as a family. The natural surroundings of the resorts and beaches intertwined with my mother’s bright kaftans and accessories are the foundation to my style inspiration.

My mother knew at a young age that I would be a fashion designer, too. I was that child that raided my mother’s closet and paraded around the house in luxurious shoes, apparel, you name it. As she says, “It didn’t take long for me to realize my daughter was going to be in fashion. At age 5, Elaine picked out her outfits for school—and they we’re always so vibrant. I’ll never forget the Kelly-Green jumpsuit she wore. It was clear she was expressing herself artistically, even at that young age.”

young elaine
Raiding my mother’s closet.

A Refined Classic Style

I like to refer to my mother’s fashion sense as a “refined classic style”. In a way, my entire brand reflects this as I constantly, season after season, modernize classic shapes in new and interesting ways. My upbringings are always at the crux of my fashion design process. Even at her age now, she’s still rocking that refined classic style that inspires me to this day.

“I enjoy tailored, high-quality fabrics but I always like to add something to my style that says ‘2017’ to it. It’s important to always incorporate something modern to show your paying attention to the trends.” – Marlaine

Marlaine rocking the Cam Necklace, Candice Earring, Tamara top, Bella in Snake Cork, and Milani Wedge.


Modern Style, Modern Havana

A refined classic style and our current collection go together like salt and tequila (where’s the bartender around here?). As you already know, our Modern Havana collection is a true embodiment of our brand: escapism, travel, and wanderlust. This collection expresses these ideas through vibrant colors, dramatic textures, and tropical undertones.

It’s no surprise Marlaine loves Modern Havana and rocks it better than anyone I know! She gravitates towards the more tailored pieces like our Tamara tunic, while I go for the true dramatic kaftan dress, Landa. There are a multitude of ways to put this collection together to suit your own personal style.

She chose some of her favorite items from the collection. Enjoy!!

  • Cam Necklace– The white beads accompanied with the multi-color tassels brightens up any look.
  • Candice Earring– The bright colored tassels adds a modern edge.
  • Tamara in Cobalt blue- Who doesn’t love a bold color and well-tailored shirt?
  • Bella in Snake Cork– A classic envelope shape, but modernized with the clashing of two prints
  • Milani Wedge– Trendy yet classic, the Milani mid-wedge is comfortable enough to wear everyday!

I’ll never stop being inspired by my mother. Not just for her incredible sense of style, but in her caring, selfless nature that she extends to her children and grandchildren every single day. Never change, momma! Happy Mother’s Day.

Goofing around on set.


Autism Rescue Angels: Providing Help, Support, Hope for Families

ARA Board member Leslie Mogil, and founders Lisa Graham-Garza and Penny Khuri work an ARA event at an Elaine Turner Boutique.

Dear Friends-
It is the last week of Autism Awareness Month. I hope you have learned more about the condition and two amazing organizations in Houston that offer support services — Social Motion Skills and Aspire Accessories.

Today, we feature an organization near and dear to my heart – Autism Rescue Angels. Lisa Graham-Garza, who started the organization with Penny Khuri, is a dear friend and Jim and I have served on the board. Lisa’s learned so much throughout her son’s autism journey, she is a wealth of knowledge and passion, and out of that she created Autism Rescue Angels to help families in need.

As parents, we all want the best for our kids. Raising a special needs child has its share of challenges. Lisa has started an organization to ease the financial burden so that families need not add these stressors to the list.

Read more about Lisa and Autism Rescue Angels below.

Lisa Graham-Garza and her son, Tyler.

ET: Tell us about Autism Rescue Angels, who it serves and how.

LGG: Autism Rescue Angels was begun in 2014 to funnel practical financial help to families in need. It is the only organization of its kind in Houston.

Texas provides meager assistance for kids diagnosed with autism. It is third from the bottom in the nation for servicing children with disabilities in public schools and through the public sector. There was not enough money allocated when measures were adopted in the legislature years ago and there is certainly not enough with numbers of those diagnosed rising. It used to be 1 in 220 had autism. Now, 1 in 45 has autism.

With limited public assistance, autism can be a financially draining diagnosis as families must pay for necessary, expensive therapies. The sad reality is that many families go bankrupt.

ET: What is your personal story of autism and how did it inspire you to start the organization?

LGG: I have a 14-year-old son, Tyler, with severe autism, so I have personal experience with the therapies, schools and issues involved with raising a kid with special needs. I know personally how expensive these specialized therapies can be.

I started Autism Rescue Angels with friend Penny Khuri whose son, Gregory, is also on the spectrum. We met through our kids’ school and had worked together through other organizations.

After seeing families burdened with financial stress, we founded the organization to help relieve the pressure for families who need it. I like to say ARA was “born out of anger and outrage of nothing being done.”

Click the video below for more on ARA and how it supports autism families.

ET: How did you get Elaine involved with the organization?

LGG: I’d been an Elaine Turner customer forever and took note of their charity model. I approached Elaine at an event and told her I was interested in partnering with them. We had several meetings, then Elaine and Jim joined the board.

Lisa & Elaine host an ARA shopping event at an Elaine Turner boutique.

ET: Can you tell us some success stories of how the organization has helped autism families?

LGG: ARA helps one family at a time. The needs are very diverse. We help kids as young as 2 and as old as 28. We helped one family with multiple autistic children. We’ve funded therapy, a special car seat, paid for seizure medications, and provided advocates to engage schools for assistance. We provide bridges of assistance that families are challenged to cross. (To give you an idea of the needs these families face and their resulting gratitude, click here.)

The money that we are able to distribute is raised through our annual luncheon, generous private and corporate donations, shopping parties and private events.

ET: What are the current, hot button issues regarding autism?

LGG: Definitely funding for autism in Texas is an issue. Texas is a hard place to live because of the lack of funding through tax dollars. Houston has a ton of resources but they are all private pay.

One bright spot now as opposed to when my son was first diagnosed is that today with social media, autism parents can easily connect with each other for support. I used to have to connect with parents in doctors’ offices, but now it is much easier. And I am happy that through ARA, we’re able to put families in touch with each other for support.

The purpose of the organization is to be a bridge of assistance and get the conversation started regarding
issues that need to be addressed. Until a your child is diagnosed, you do not realize what is or is not happening for autistic kids. Also, personally, our family is trying to prepare for when Tyler is older.

ET: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LGG: Autism is different in terms of disabilities because the kids often look like peer typicals. For this reason, ARA is expanding their reach into the community to work with law enforcement and first responders so they know how to handle situations that may arise. In this way, we are a voice advocating for a protocol for first responders so they recognize autistic individuals are not criminal or psychiatric. We are visiting with first responders and encouraging families to get to know first responders in their area.
Lastly, ARA always needs donors, especially corporate donors. Currently the organization has a wait list for aid. If you feel moved to provide assistance that would ease the burden for a family affected by autism, follow this link to make a donation.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!