About Gabriela Dror

gabriela drorGabriela Dror’s love for fashion began an ocean away, in a perhaps unlikely place. Raised in Karvina, a small industrial town in the Czech Republic, the designer grew up in a close-knit family of Slovakian heritage. Her father worked for a coal-mining company, her mother was a housewife; there were three children. Her father was a self-made man: He started as a coal miner and became an executive, and his example of hard work and dedication became the most inspiring role model in her life, one that gave her the courage to pursue bigger dreams.

When she turned 19, Gabriela took the brave step of leaving Eastern Europe to pursue studies in the United States. She enrolled in the Language and Culture Center at the University of Houston, and then went on to study IST (Information System Technology), earning a B.S. in the field and completing an M.S.O.T. (Master’s of Science in Occupational Technology) after which followed law studies. In early 2009, Gabriela returned to her early interest in fashion – as a teen, she has designed and sewn clothes for herself and friends – to unveil her first collection.

One of the most striking aspects of her design debut is the presence of a strong millinery element, something sadly lacking in many women’s wardrobes. Hers are no ordinary chapeaux; they are hand-crafted at the legendary factory in the Czech Republic, with its hat-making tradition dates back to 1799, and continues today with couture looks for Paris and Milan runaways. The material, colored sinamay, a straw that is highly malleable, is enhanced by playful accents of satin; the creations range from bold to demure, big brimmed to cloche, all united by an inventive, surreal attitude that achieves its designer’s goal of bridging the “old-world with a new contemporary feel.” Fascinators or headbands, devised for cocktail fêtes or black-tie nights, add decided glamour and a touch of drama.

While her millinery originates in her native country, Gabriela’s clothing is designed and made in America. Lady like and featuring exquisite “and beguiling” details, the collection encompasses day-to-evening looks, with silk, lace and chiffon frocks, palazzo pants, and ball gowns. Then it’s topped off with breathtaking hats.

Ultimately, Gabriela’s passion can be traced to her Eastern European heritage: “My inspiration comes from my own background. Everything I think beautiful I love to express in my design,” she underscores. She is an avid admirer in Czech tradition of the avant-garde, a movement which traces its beginnings back to the early 20th century into 1920′s, 30′s and 40′s. Consequently, her fashions sublimely echo painters, photographers and illustrators who synthesized Cubism, Surrealism, and Deco styles: Ota Janecek, Frantisek Muzika, Miroslav Tichy, Toyen (Marie Cerminova) and Josef Capek are few of the pioneering Czech modernists she studies and collects “and transports via alluring design into our time.”

Gabriela is married to Daniel Dror, and they have a young son. Her husband, an industrialist and former first violinist with Houston Symphony, has sparked the couple’s commitment to their city’s vibrant cultural scene. The Drors are generous philanthropists, supporting numerous performing arts groups, including the Houston Symphony, Rice University’s Sheppard School of Music and the Houston Grand Opera, as well as nonprofits from the Hermann Park Conservancy and the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts to Houston Community College Fashion Department, where Gabriela hopes to inspire a designer like herself to achieve his or her dreams.

By Catherine D. Anspon