After a Fashion

Whither downtown shopping?

TRUNK SHOW July 7 offered an early-evening trunk show, of a sort, at Club DeVille, featuring the retro-ish rock & roll deluxe T-shirt designs of Susan Bessire. The club was, as usual, charming -- especially our vivacious hostess extraordinaire, Emily (Cruella De Vil herself), who had the temerity to ask, "What are you doing here? You only come here twice a year." Well, my precious little dumpling, let's do a little fashion timeline, shall we? The first time I ever set foot in CDV was for the fabulous Fall Fashion Extravaganza in 1999. The second time was for the fabulous Spring Fashion Extravaganza, and the third time, in less than a year, I might add, was July 7. I don't know about you, but that's a remarkable record for me -- the only club in town that has allowed me in on three consecutive occasions!

WET AND WILD The evening held further charms, with a pretty swank little reception at Wet Salon, featuring the underwater photography of Douglas W. Ryan. With the toss of a sheet and the flick of a broom, the busy salon transformed itself into the destination on the Strip. With a crowd of around 400 people, Brandi Cowley, Jimmy Haddox, and Eric Massey proved themselves as adept at throwing a chi-chi little affair attracting the likes of Austin-expatriate designer Liv Wildz, Jeff Nightbyrd and Jimmy Bruch of Acclaim Modeling Agency, Jeanette Bonoan and Angela Ware for Chimera, stylist and photographer Will O'Connell, Dale Dudley of KLBJ, Neil Diaz, Brooke Carter, Gail Chovan, and Evan Voyles of the Designers' Guild, Jamie Schloss of Castle Rock Studio, Frank Biezer of Jump Point Communications, and chiropractor Simon Forster. Spokesman Haddox says the soiree is the first of many to come.

GHOST OF SHOPPING PAST If you stand at Town Lake, looking up the Congress Avenue canyon toward the Capitol, and squint really, really hard, you can almost remember when downtown was a vital and alive shopping district. Long before Barton Creek Square, long before e-commerce, long before Starbucks. Downtown recently, I found myself aimlessly gazing across Congress into the soulless windows of Charles Schwab. I glanced up and was shocked to see the Art Deco grillwork gracing the old Scarbrough's sign. Time itself disintegrated, and I was transported back to when Scarbrough's ruled supreme as downtown's temple of fashion. I made some of my earliest high-fashion purchases at Scarbrough's -- sunglasses, an oyster-colored silk scarf, and a smart shoulder bag in which to carry all my assorted disco paraphernalia to the Pearl Street Warehouse (you know -- fans, poppers, and cologne). Granted, even in the mid-Seventies, Scarbrough's had seen better days, but it was still glorious. Supporting players included stylish shops like Marie Antoinette and Yaring's, as well as Lerner's and a number of other lower-end retailers, like Woolworth's, where you could have a grilled cheese sandwich, fries, and a Coke for $1.50. Congress Avenue was a destination, and downtown was the crossroads of the city. Now, downtown is avoided like the plague, and so many storefronts are empty. The shopping scene is splintered into a dozen different locations.

GHOST OF SHOPPING FUTURE On the horizon, it can be safely said that the South Lamar shopping strip will soon start giving the chic SoCo Strip a run for its money. "South Lamar" just doesn't have much of a ring to it, though. Oughtn't it have its own nickname? The chic SoLa strip, perhaps? I guess we can't call it that; people might think "So L.A." Since it is stylish SoCo's bohemian cousin, I suggest we call it the Boho Strip. It already has its own thriving population of vintage dealers, and delicious rumors are swirling that it will soon sport a gallery showcasing the talents of many local designers. Throw in a salon or two and we'll have all the ingredients for another shopping smorgasbord.

THE BIG GIRLS Among the big-money models, Claudia Schiffer took home $9 million, Cindy Crawford earned $8 million, and Christy Turlington made $7 million last year. We have no idea where Linda Evangelista was on the list, but apparently the woman who once said that she doesn't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day must be spending an awful lot of time in bed these days.

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