After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar takes you on a tour of two local, innovative businesses: Cush Cush and Big Red Sun.

BIG AND BRIGHT Last week, I mentioned Selena Souders, Lucinda Williams' No. 1 fan (no, not like Kathy Bates in Misery). She and husband Dylan Robertson named their architectural and landscaping company, Big Red Sun, after a Lucinda song. It was fun to see Selena get to meet her idol backstage after last week's concert. And how nice to see Selena relaxed, smiling and having fun -- usually she's working like a demon and toiling through her day in the treacherous heat. She was hard at work the day I visited her. Dylan was occupied elsewhere, but Selena took the time to give me a tour of the lush spread. You know it's a very special place when you arrive: gorgeous plants in the entry, a massive stained concrete arch. Selena and Dylan have created their own little piece of heaven at 1102 E. Cesar Chavez (480-9749). Selena is the botanical expert, having honed her skills at the New York Botanical Gardens, and longtime Austinite Dylan handles the construction. They started the company eight years ago, and this location, where they've been for three years, includes a full-service nursery, gift shop, and design and construction offices. The construction headquarters, though, is about to be relocated. The nursery itself is a verdant oasis, cool and inviting. Amid graceful palms, towering trees, garden shrubs of dozens of varieties, herbs, and indoor tropicals, BRS has an especially good selection of succulents, both native and exotic. They also carry botanical beauties such as Malabar spinach, as well as mermaid, seafoam, and rhino horn plants. The gift shop, a steel-frame and sheet-metal structure of their own design, with Saltillo and limestone flooring, sells antique as well as new home décor pieces, charming gift plants called "retro botanicals," fabulous gardening shoes, and so many other delights. They also manufacture their own line of vases and planters in stained concrete as well as phosphorus-coated steel. Their design clients are mainly residential (BRS does a lot of the downtown lofts), though a prominent example of their commercial work is the chic Hotel San José's wonderful design and landscaping. They have a great deal to be proud of, though perhaps the project that they are proudest of is their 1-year-old daughter Ruby.

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL Textures that beg to be stroked and caressed, color that comes alive in breathtakingly luxurious and sensual fabrics that span centuries of style, spectacular trims spangled with crystal, feathers, beads and fur, and tassels that might have come from an exotic harem tent … all these and more are hallmarks of Stephanie Moore's exquisite taste. Moore and partners own Cush Cush (916-A W. 12th, 478-CUSH), one of the most divinely original shops that Austin has to offer. Selling the aforementioned fabrics and trims, Cush Cush also has a full-service workroom that creates tablecloths, shower curtains, lampshades, drapes, and pillows, as well as bedding with matching upholstered headboards. In addition, they do commercial interior work, having provided upholstery and window treatments to such establishments as the Red Fez. They will not only custom-design for you, but offer a selection of ready-made goods, too. Moore's background is in fashion; she studied in Paris, with a focus on fabric design, and has also produced her own line of accessories, but has never done retail before. The essential component in everything she pursued was magnificent fabric, and so it seems a likely evolution that she would wind up as a purveyor of such goods. No matter how confident you are of what you want when you walk in to Cush Cush, you can be sure your head will be turned by the dazzling array in front of you, and suddenly, you're considering possibilities you never dreamed of. The selection is that fabulous. And the merchandising that displays the goods beckons you to come closer, whispering conspiratorially in your ear, "Touch me! Touch me!" From antique sari fabrics and trim, to classic upholstery goods with thoroughly modern treatments, to diaphanous sheers, Moore's vision encompasses a broad range; only the finest and most unusual within that range will do. The store's stock has continued to grow and change, as have the customers themselves. Definitely not to-the-trade-only, Cush Cush attracts the most innovative apparel designers and seamstresses in town, along with interior designers and regular folks, too, who want to add a splash of luxury to their surroundings.

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Selena Souders, Lucinda Williams, Dylan Robertson, Big Red Sun, gardening, Architectural landscaping, botanicals, Cush Cush, designer fabric, Stephanie Moore

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