After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar revels in his New York state of mind, having just visited our noble Big Apple. Come along for the ride.

Blackmail: For the <i>noir</i> in all of us
Blackmail: For the noir in all of us (Photo By Bob Sherman)

NYC DIARY It was a whirlwind five-day trip with a most inauspicious start. Ever hear of Vanguard Airlines? Well, forget you did. After urging travelers to fly the friendly skies again, it's unthinkable that this particular podunk airline would treat their passengers with such appalling disrespect. We lost an entire day of our trip because of them... Once on board, we comforted ourselves with the current Vanity Fair; it was cool to come across the haunting, evocative Annie Leibovitz photo of Lucinda Williams, shot here in Austin in June... After lengthy delays, we finally arrived in the city that I once called home. The view, with the conspicuously missing Twin Towers, is deeply emotional. The spirit and pride of New York are intact, but the wounds of Sept. 11 are evident in every word and every glance... Dropped in on former Austinite Alton O. Spot at Patricia Fields' Salon Venus in Soho. Gearing up for a Halloween that promises to be somewhat more somber than in years past, the customers aren't quite as festive but the teasing combs are still flying, and Alton is doing fabulous work... Black, black, black rules the fashion scene in NYC -- always has and always will -- but it achieves a new sobriety and dignity that is as funereal as it is stylish... Visited with former Austinite Nancy Schafer, who reported that she is in negotiations for soundtrack rights for Lucinda Williams' "Can't Let Go" for John Sayles' new film The Sunshine State, starring the incredible Angela Bassett... Sister Margaret accompanied me to a downtown firehouse -- Engine 7, Ladder 1 -- where 40% of the crew had been lost in the WTC attack. It was profoundly moving to see the remaining members raising money for the loved ones of their fallen friends... And to look down the street and see the buildings still shrouded in smoke and dust, with the acrid smell wafting in the breeze, was a potent reminder of recent tragedies... Jimmie Vaughan and Lou Ann Barton played at B.B. King's, but we missed the show since our arrival was so late, consequently missing Dennis Quaid and legendary guitarist Les Paul, who were in attendance... We also just missed Bob Schneider, who is currently performing in NYC... The Metropolitan Museum is (as always) a dreamland of escapism, as we drooled over the Annenberg collection of 19th-century art and spectacular 400-carat emeralds from India... But the real treasures of the city are the citizens themselves: bruised, battered, but magnificent in their refusal to be broken.

ON THE PROWL Hanging out recently till the crack of dawn with two of my neighbors, the international bon vivant Bob Emerson (who originally renovated the gorgeous Miller-Crockett House) and Kenneth Pipkin, the glamorous socialite, an amazing discovery was made: We all shared the same birthday, October 25. Bob invited me to accompany Kenneth and him to a birthday party, and with such charming company, how could I refuse? The location, a palatial lakeside home near Mount Bonnell, belonging to Charles Duggan (producer of the Greater Tuna series and business partner of Dynasty designer Nolan Miller), was the most gorgeous I've seen in Austin. One enormous room after another revealed constantly unfolding luxurious delights. Eventually, we landed on the terrace overlooking the pool, which seemed to spill into the lake below. Notable guests included Joe Burke and Mark Smith of the divine Design Center on 2222, Jeffrey Stone of Tesoros (formerly of Black's Fifth Avenue), floral designer extraordinaire David Kurio, architect Roger Joseph, Brent Vance, and Stuart Siever... We had a fab time at our own little birthday celebration at Texture last Sunday -- accompanied by fashionistas Neil Diaz and the aforementioned Miss Woo. It was retro Goth night, and as usual, the service, led by the lovely bartender Layla, was generous and gracious. We had a dishy time visiting with the vivacious DJ Sliver, recently suspended from his job as star DJ at Elyssium (after they finally got their liquor license). And we thought we were on the prowl ... Sliver is an alleycat with attitude to burn.

TRASH TALKING Actor Wiley Wiggins (Dazed and Confused and Waking Life) has been making the rounds from NY to Texas. Local model/socialite Holly Woo (www.hollywoo.net) met him at a party and promptly discarded her escort, spending the rest of the party draped around Mr. Wiggins' shoulders like a feather boa. For a subsequent date, Miss Woo had to pick up Wiggins at his current couch-surfing location, since he had no money and no car. Reports say the two spent much of the evening together. Afterward, Wiggins allegedly insulted Woo's Christian neighbor and ate pizza noisily (which Miss Woo was forced to foot the bill for), and was given fare to take the bus home in the morning. The date from hell? Not necessarily ... But you'll have to ask Miss Woo about that.

THE FASHION FRONT The fabulous new Blackmail is open at long last (1202 S. Congress, Tue-Sat 10:30am-6pm, 326-7670), featuring owner Gail Chovan's quirky and drop-dead-stylish selection of noir wear for the home and body, as well as Stephanie Lindsey's fabulous Baby Jane vintage postcard jewelry. Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 1, is First Thursday on the chic SoCo strip... 7-10pm, Blackmail presents a trunkshow of the work of handbag designer and former Austinite Keri Kropp... Also, Pink Salon celebrates their second anniversary (congratulations, ladies!) with a retro dance party, Class of '84, complete with breakdancers... And this First Thursday will be the last for Under the Sun -- everything is 50% off, as Steve & Lisa Dean prepare to close their doors and reopen soon as the 24-hour Texas Diner, serving Southern delights and down-home charm... Attention all brides: St. Thomas' Bridal Sample Sale has 50% off gowns from designers such as Vera Wang, Givenchy, and Atelier Aimee. Sunday, Nov. 4, 1-4pm, by appointment only: 338-0526.

Write the Style Avatar at style@austinchronicle.com

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Vanguard Airlines, Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz, Lucinda Williams, New York, Alton O. Spot, Patricia Fields' Salon Venus, NYC, Nancy Schafer, Lucinda Williams, John Sayles, The Sunshine State, Angela Basset, Engine 7, Ladder 1, Jimmie Vaughan, Lou Ann Barton, B.B. King's

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