Last Sunday was my return to the design world with Eleven Eleven: An Evening of Extraordinary Fashion, benefiting Hospice Austin's Pet Peace of Mind program. It was what it was. I loved it. But since everyone I know is pretty obligated to say they liked it, I'll let you read the reviews elsewhere.
The days and nights leading up to it were a blend of fear and excitement, hysteria and acceptance, focus and distraction. WhiteStar Manufacturing turned over their full facilities to me, including their sewing staff, who, even after clocking out, stayed evenings and weekends toiling away. Friends and designers showed up offering incredibly valuable time and assistance, and my precious co-producer did her best to protect me from having to deal with anything but getting the clothes made. Across town, while this was going on, Austin styling pioneer Roy Fredericks of Avant Salon, Johanna Esper and Charlotte Belle of Salon d'Etoile, and Allyson Garro from Coco Coquette stood ready to work hair and wig magic. Rochelle Rae and her expert team at Rae Cosmetics and Jay Woods of Toni & Guy pulled together all the makeup. Exquisite jewelry was selected from Kendra Scott's jaw-dropping Austin Fashion Awards collection, and Greg Boyd from Coomi Jewels swooped over to Beverly Hills to scoop up diamonds and gold to bedeck the models. When the legendary fashion show producer Sue Webber volunteered to help with the production, we knew we'd have a gorgeous show.
Of course, there are more dear friends to thank: Benson Roberts and Markhollan Swientek at TexStyles Designer Fabric Showroom for having the faith to turn over thousands of dollars in fabric to me to sew my heart out. Through Benson, I met Tina Johnson, who co-owns WhiteStar Manufacturing. I am indebted to them forever for making my dreams come true. Esther Bowen, Jon Jon Shakarisaz, and Rebecca Hoffer played an integral part in the development of the clothes. My co-producer, artistic director, best friend, and muse, Jaclyn "Jacki OH" Havlak, took the show by the reins, virtually single-handedly. With her fingers in so many different pies, she focused her formidable powers of organization and covered every detail for me, supporting me selflessly and at her own expense. Jacki, I love you dearly. To my mom and sister, who care so much for me on a daily basis, thank you for putting up with this insanity; I would never be here without you. Thank you to Louis Black, Nick Barbaro, and The Austin Chronicle for giving me the platform of my weekly column from which to inflict my views and opinions on Austin style, and to my editor Kate Messer for enduring my reams of unacceptably late copy and making my column sound coherent. Without the Chronicle, I'd never have been able to make my mark on the social and style scenes, and without having made that mark, I'd be playing to an empty house. And to all of my friends who rallied around me during the good times and bad, thank you for your constant encouragement and your welcoming arms when I decided to resurface after a lengthy respite from the spotlight.
This collection is the most important collection of my life. It will always hold a very special place in my heart, never knowing whether this would be the first of many more collections and shows ... or whether this would be the last thing I ever did. My spirit is alive again, and I've learned to be thankful for every day that I can wake up and live this life that has never felt so precious. And I know that when the time comes that I need a different kind of help, Hospice Austin will be there for me. It's been high time I do something to pay it forward. And I've learned that that's the most important thing I could ever do.
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