After a Fashion
Guess who your Style Avatar flitted around town with this week? Check out this first installment about international salon god José Eber's visit to Austin.
NBF "Are you ready for a change?" says the master as he inspects Jennifer Braham. "It doesn't matter. ... It's not about you, it's about me," he states, his appraising eyes traveling up and down her. From someone else, these words could be chillingly egomaniacal. But coming out of the mouth of José Eber (French pronunciation, please: "a-BEAR"), Jennifer knows he's right. That's why she's there. That's why we're all there, at the José Eber Atelier at Saks. José strikes the famous pose, leaning over the top of Jennifer from behind and peering at her hair in the mirror, and says, "Tell me about your lifestyle ..." With a face like a painting by Modigliani, and her hair tumbling in undulating waves past her shoulders, she is typical of many women in believing that longer hair is more feminine. When Jose declares, "It needs to be short," Jennifer is aghast and says, "I'm afraid to go short; I love my hair long, and I want to still be sexy and feminine." José's heard it all a million times before, and continues, "I'm seeing you with a deep, real auburn color, but I refuse to do the cut just halfway. It needs to come up to here." "Do it, do it," I urge her. The master has spoken (errr, José, not me!), Jennifer consents, and José gives rapid-fire instructions in French to Norbert (that's "nor-BEAR"... he's French, too) Lemke. Norbert pauses, holding the scissors above Jennifer's hair, winks mischievously, saying, "Snip, snip, snip." Jennifer winces. "I was nauseated," she says, "I was so scared, I literally thought I would going to vomit." She clenched her eyes shut and exhaled, "Let's do it." Norbert, artistic director for the salon, begins to cut intensely and wordlessly, and the locks fall to the floor.
Meanwhile, salon director Mari Stella Ostrewich attends to my every need, and we are treated to a lovely lunch, catered by the always-fabulous Manuel's. Mari Stella is amazing: vibrant, knowledgeable, and incredibly gracious. She is a total pro, with the finesse of a diplomat. Afterward, José leads me away to a private sanctuary, where we smoke like fiends and dish the dirt. For a man whose clients need only one name to identify them (Liz, Cher, Farrah, etc.) he is incredibly down-to-earth and exudes an intimacy that belies his fame. With nine salons from New York to Beverly Hills, José has been doing hair for nearly 40 years, and as he says, "Darling, when you've done hair in the Sixties and Seventies, you've done it all. Everything else is simply a variation." Beginning in the era of Jackie, Liz, and Marilyn when Kenneth, Alexandre, and Sassoon reigned supreme ("Back then, a hairdresser was judged on how long a do would last!" he laughs), José has held his place as one of the most renowned hairdressers in the world. He is most identifiable by the trademark cowboy hat and long hair that he's worn for 25 years. The man whose business is creating new looks for women says, "I like my look this way, if I didn't, I'd change it." But he will not dish -- on record -- about his clients. He refuses to answer the question posed by News 8's Cheryl Bishop about who his favorites are. "I love them all," he says. And when I ask him with whom he will never work again, he rolls his eyes and says, "There're a bunch of them." And ... well, I just have waaay too much to tell you, so you're just going to have to wait until next week to find out how the rest of our visit went ...
MARS NEEDS WOMEN Venus Attacks! presents A Celebration of Womanhood fashion show at the Sky Lounge (416 Congress) Wednesday, Nov. 14. It is hosted by Christina Vahouli, co-producer of the film Curve that chronicles the world of plus-size modeling, and features a special performance by Joanna Goodz, as well as clothing and accessories from local retailers and the UT Fashion Group. Tickets: $15 ($20 at the door). Friday, Nov. 16, Venus Attacks! presents their gala and art auction at Miguel's La Bodega. Tickets for this music and art extravaganza are $45 ($50 at the door) and include a buffet. Or purchase tickets to both events for $55 total. For more info, see www.venusattacks.moonfruit.org or call 445-5528.
SANS SEAM The Designers' Guild of Austin presents Seamless, at the Design Center of Austin (3601 S. Congress) on Sunday, Nov. 18, 3pm. Featuring the work of a number of talented local designers, it is always one of the best and brightest fashion events around. Mark your calendars, and call 326-7670 for further info.
WHEELS ON FIRE Hallelujah! Friday, Nov. 12, brings us the return of Absolutely Fabulous to Comedy Central, featuring new(!) episodes with our favorite fashion-victims, Patsy and Edina. God save the queens ...