After a Fashion

DISCLAIMER I have been accused, recently, of being a Fashion Elitist, narrow-minded, and of possessing old-school ideas of what fashion is about. Nonsense. New ideas in fashion are the lifeblood of the industry, and no designer, critic, or journalist can afford to wallow in the past. Fashion is an ephemeral, of-the-moment phenomenon, but the best fashion comes from an understanding of what has already occurred. Whether it is an extension of a current mode, or a reaction to it, I can appreciate any new idea that's done well. But "done well" is not merely a subjective opinion. There are standards of quality in garment design and construction that are not ephemeral. They are the result of thousands of years of trial and error. A new idea isn't laudable simply because it's new. Usually the criteria for a look to seem new is that we haven't seen it before. But there is so little out there that we haven't, in some form or another, and the main reason we don't see new very often is because it generally didn't work very well the first time... then there's John Galliano and his couture collection inspired by the homeless people he sees when he jogs in the morning. Fifty-thousand dollars to wear a ragged dress adorned with liquor bottles? I guess you'd have to say that that is, indeed, a very new idea.

DGA is the acronym for the recently founded Designer's Guild of Austin. With the lofty goal of gaining visibility for and promoting the work of local designers, DGA will offer networking opportunities for the previously fragmented design community. Encompassing a wide range of personalities and fashion viewpoints, the membership includes fashion designers and promoters. Members are Bonnie Barton, Brooke Carter, Gail Chovan, Neil Diaz, Merritt Grooms, Jyl Kutsche, Laura Maclay, Levi Palmer, Tom Palmer, Amy Turnbull, and, of course, yours truly. This array of emerging, as well as veteran, talents will present a major fashion show in October. As announced in this very space two weeks ago, the now-named DGA will sponsor their now-named Inaugural Soiree on June 22, 7pm, tentatively at the SoCo Gallery on South Congress. Invitations will be required, and, naturally, a dress code -- these are fashion designers, of course, so let's show some fashion of respect.

IN RELATED NEWS The talk of the fashion scene is the opening of the agency UberModels. Based out of New Orleans and represented by Clayton Sikes, the agency is wise to capitalize on the homegrown beauties that reside here. Making its debut with a Launch Party at the Caucus Club on June 16, UberModels will also be presenting a Fashion Show. Admission is $10 -- presumably to keep out the gawkers.

Also competing for the attention of the fashionistas that same evening is the Fashion Show at the Flamingo Cantina. Unfortunately, trying to speak to an actual human who could give more details proved to be an exercise in futility. We do know it's on June 16.

NATIONAL EXPOSURE The current Jane magazine has a brief article on shopping in Austin, mentioning Blue Velvet, Blackmail, Toy Joy, and, since this is Texas, Shepler's. Bravo to Jane!

SEEN BUT NOT BELIEVED (At the mall, of course) A bra. With straps. Worn with a tube top. Saints preserve us. Another charmer was the gentleman in a kilt. With a T-shirt and tennis shoes. Far from proclaiming his heritage or interests, the outfit made him look like a really big Catholic schoolgirl at basketball practice. These kinds of transgressions reveal not self-expression but poor self-esteem. But, why, oh, why can't the malls provide fainting couches for those of us overcome by these fashion atrocities? Or a little nondenominational chapel where we can seek solace and the fashion-retarded can seek divine guidance? Maybe DGA could set up little informational booths in the malls and offer fashion counseling and how-to charts. I'd say a good location would be in front of stores such as Forever 21, which recently featured in their window an appalling outfit consisting of a black-and-white camisole with big polka-dots paired with a hot-pink skirt with a huge cabbage-rose print on it. Forever 21 indeed. "Dressed in the Dark" would be a more appropriate name. Try Charlotte Russe, instead -- they have much cooler stuff and great prices. And it's coordinated well, too! Imagine! At the mall! Sorry, must be my fashion elitism showing again....

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