After a Fashion

The Style Avatar digs into the subatomic particles of the Atomic Cafe Fashion show and goes on a "Bender"…

ATOMIC FALLOUT Thursday, Oct. 19 brought us the Neil Diaz/Atomic Cafe Fashion/Fantasy Production. With so much of the show better than it was last time, it was inexplicable that the crowd was a quarter of the size. (Julie, who handled the guest list at the door, was as diplomatic and efficient as every doorperson in the world should be.) Hosted by Diaz and the lovely Ruby Lamb, the show started late (as most fashion shows do), but DJ Chris did a great job of entertaining the crowd with his music. In fact, the music underscored how a solid, throbbing beat can move things along well. Opening act was clothing from the Leather Chest, a poor substitute for Forbidden Fruit (who were in the last Fashion/Fantasy), and while it was a somewhat more stylish and less graphic production than FF's, it wasn't quite as entertaining. However, the segment was directed by Diaz, who seems to understand that when in doubt, a straight runway presentation is best. Though the press release said the show would feature many of Austin's up-and-coming models, this was not in evidence. There were, however, some very good ones -- Uriah Wolfers strutted well and Sara Wickham burned up the runway, wearing some of the best looking make-up Wet Salon has ever done. The Leather Chest's segment was interrupted by a renegade band of Transgender Amazons, who barged onto the stage, declaring that the show now belonged to them. It was the show's best surprise, as Crayola Vasquez, Amber St. James, Sky Black, and Donald Graves behaved the way a renegade band of transgender Amazons should behave, in over-the-top confections by Graves. The second act began with the avant garde (for Austin) designs of Levi Palmer for Leviticus. The mercurial Mr. Palmer took us to his androgynous dream world in this, his second collection. His extraordinary conceptual skills beg for a formal design education to acquaint him with a variety of approaches and techniques. He still needs a patternmaker, a samplemaker, and a bigger fabric budget. He would also benefit most by spending more time on each garment, even at the risk of producing fewer of them. Though he is rapidly becoming noted for his prima donna tendencies, he has style to burn, and if you remember his name now, it shouldn't surprise you in a decade or two when you see his name in many places. But that's going to have to happen somewhere other than Austin, where Palmer should spend a few years apprenticing under someone fabulous. The third act was from Blackmail, under the direction of proprietress Gail Chovan. Showing the Goth chic styles that she buys for her store, to a largely Goth chic audience, her strong suit in this show was in assembling the ensembles. Her instinct as a buyer is as good as her instinct as a designer -- her inherent style the saving grace in a relatively weak production. But, lest I sound as if I'm scolding my good friend and professional colleague, let's make sure that it's well-known that this is Chovan's third fashion show in four weeks. She has already produced two outstanding presentations -- and with her reliably spectacular Club DeVille presentation for their always glamorous Fall Fashion Extravaganza still to come. CDVFFE will have happened by the time this edition of the paper goes to press, but you can look forward to a full report next week on the crowning glory of an extremely interesting fashion season.

ON A BENDER Never underestimate the charm of the simple -- and these simple little toys are charming and readily available in Austin. Called Benders, they are a family unit, sold separately in little tins, of plastic coated wire figures with magnetic feet. They include Joe Bender, his wife Brenda Bender, Mind Bender the cat and can be bent into an endless variety of poses. At $5-7, they're great little gifts and perfect stocking stuffers. Available at the Austin Children's Museum, the Austin Museum of Art, the Cadeau, Celebration, Gumballs, Kid Genius, Lone Star Illusions, the Oasis Marketplace, Oat Willie's, Paper Place, Terra Toys, and Whole Earth Provision Co.

EL INTERIOR DESIGN Today, Thursday, Oct. 26, 11:30am-1pm, El Interior is hosting their own Fall Fashion Event with informal modeling and again, 5-7pm for Happy Hour. Featuring a trunk show by local designer, Sally Nicolaou and her Mayawear collection, as well as fashions from designer Alejandro Julian, the gallery features crafts and treasures from Mexico and beyond.

Write to our Style Avatar with your related events, news, and hautey bits: or PO Box 49066, Austin, 78765 or 458-6910 (fax).

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Neil Diaz/Atomic Café Fashion/Fantasy Production, Ruby Lamb, DJ Chris, Leather Chest, Forbidden Fruit, Uriah Wolfers, Sara Wickham, Wet Salon, Transgender Amazons, Crayola Vasquez, Amber St. James, Sky Black, and Donald Graves, Levi Palmer for L

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