After a Fashion

ON THE CHIC SOCO STRIP Let's just get on with the breathless prose, shall we? It was a sizzling start to the summer social season and a harbinger of future glory for Austin fashion as 300 fashionistas (and their admirers) gathered at Gallery SoCo on S. Congress. Gallery owner Jason Siegal lent his stylish gallery for the event, the Inaugural Soiree of the Designers' Guild of Austin. With divine food by Christine Kittrell, lovely flowers by Verbena, beverage engineering by Gilbert Azila and Evan Voyles, and perfect cocktail music provided by DJs Eyad & Kelly, the Guild produced no less than a summit meeting of Austin style-makers that is undoubtedly unparalleled in this city. And if you think I'm gushing now, then you'd better grab a towel and sit down.

This little affair drew the brightest and most beautiful from all aspects of local fashion. Hosted by DGA members Bonnie Barton, Brooke Carter, Gail Chovan, Neil Diaz, Merritt Grooms, Jyl Kuetsche, Laura Maclay, Levi Palmer, Tom Palmer, Amy Turnbull, and your faithful Style Avatar, the soiree was notable for several reasons, not the least of which were the local fashion celebrities in attendance. From the design world were Kari Perkins, Suzanne Alexandre, Kate-Ellen Crowe, Susan Bessire, Emma Little, Angela James, Ninfa De Leon, Chelan Reynolds, Patty Yoon, Delana Jones, Spring Frost, Amy Parness, Natosha Jontue Ellis, Allison McMillan, Anne Yates, and Elisabeth Fleshler. And what's a good outfit without the right accessories? Jewelry and accessories design was represented by Cindy Crowe, Amy Jones, Cara Nichols, and Karen Vargas. Virtually every major fashion photographer was present -- among them were Andrew Shapter, Bob Sherman, Mark Guerra, Kimball Lorio, Traci Goudie, Jake Martin, Erica Gibson, David Knott, and Andrew Stinson. Pretty impressive, no? But, wait, there's more.

From the world of beauty, there was major attendance. The Austin style icon Debra Carter for Pink Salon was there, along with Eric Massey, Jimmy Haddox, and Will O'Connell -- a trio of bad boys from Wet Salon -- the ultra-stylish Philip Thomas, Kathy Miller and Jennifer Covington from Maximum FX, Amy Vandevender from Aziz Day Spa, Chi Chang, Jana Tyler, Kenneth Soliz, and Salvador Lopez. The bevy of model beauties present included the hypnotically lovely Amanda Mellard, the enchanting Summer Lawson, the sparkling Denia Ridley, Johanna Watts, Sylvie Mapel, Monica Garcia, Christine Harrington, and Melanie Beckett. Fashion stylists present included Marlana Alden, Denise Garza, Kim Schreiber, Brooke Olson, and Jennifer Baca. Retailers supporting the event included Mitra Chester for Buffalo Exchange, Shayne Wallis for Forbidden Fruit, Miori Matsumoto for Pink Moon, Rebecca Sinclair for Josephine Boutique, April & John Lohse for Gomikitti, Jeanette Bonoan and Angela Ware for Chimera, and Rex O'Neal of Ivory Aisles. Promoters and agents Clayton Sikes, Corey Rowe, Nicole Long, J. Wendy McKibben, Genie Barringer, and Naomi Riley were in attendance, as well as journalists Margaret Moser, Christopher Gray, and Tom Aiken. Whew. It might have been easier to list who wasn't there. It proves that there is incredible power to be had in uniting the Austin design community and its related industries. Talk about influential! That's a lot of firepower out there (not to mention star quality), and with the world wearily dragging itself in droves, daily, to Austin's doorstep, the best benefit of the expansion explosion is the attention and recognition that it will focus on the local fashion scene. Uh-oh, I'm beginning to feel something coming on. Something called -- dare I put a name to it? ... The Austin Fashion Awards?

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