The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 26, 2002, Columns

VIRTUALIZE There is a certain sameness to every so-called alternative fashion show here in Austin. Is it that we see the same designers, models, and audience members every time? Not necessarily, although one common factor is the propensity for models at these shows to pull up their skirts or bend over while wearing a thong so that we see exactly what's going on under their clothes. It seems unnecessary for these models to degrade themselves and the audience with this trashy behavior -- if it's a fashion show, we're there to see clothes, not what's under them. The point is that it undermines the clothes themselves, and the hard work is obscured by the theatrics. This point was driven home during the Virtualize fashion show, produced by Heather Hill and Summer Lawson and held at Elysium. Jennifer McCarthy's collection for Sacred Heart Rubber had plenty of innovation; she is such a sweetheart, and did some very creative work, but it was hard to get past the distraction of the hijinks onstage. Especially at the end when a creepy guy with a tired neon cowboy hat hit the runway. I knew something revolting would happen, so I kept my program in front of my face until he was gone. I should have covered my eyes longer than that, because next up was Brooks Coleman's collection. What we really saw was a parade of fresh bikini waxes on some tough stripper babes. Aside from strippers, it's hard to imagine who else would want to wear a sheet metal bikini. It might have been more interesting if I'd never seen these metal creations before, but they're the same pieces we've seen again and again. Though he's tried to diversify by designing with fabrics, the clothes were forgettable; his skills are obviously in metalwork. It is art of some sort, but it's not my (or any serious fashion designer's) idea of fashion. Fortunately, we moved on to the Siren Summer's SubKult collection by Summer Lawson. This is Summer's second collection; the first we saw at the Momoko show last year. While her past designs were funky and very fun, her new collection was a serious departure. As a self-taught designer, her growth has been phenomenal, and she is exhibiting amazing style and finesse. She has the eye for high style, and a particular brand of her own sense of head-to-toe beauty, and has the most potential of any young designer I've seen lately. The hair and makeup for Summer's segment was by Avant, and omigod, it was the most fabulous hair I've seen so far. Avant always does incredible hair -- edgy and innovative, but always beautiful. Their crew is top-notch, and their imagination is breathtaking. Bravo, bravo, bravo to them for a spectacular presentation. And bravo to Summer and Heather for putting on a great segment.

LUXE DELUXE I went to Luxe Apothetique at the Arboretum recently -- the revamping of the Beauty Store is a work in progress, combining Austin funk with uptown chic. You can get your hair done there, as well as purchase all the best products to take care of the style, and there's an extensive array of skin- and body-care products, clothing, accessories, and jewelry. Managers Mindy Cordell and Elizabeth Kirkman, who also do the buying for the store, were a pleasure to visit with, excitedly showing off some of the wonderful collections they've bought: Body & Soul cosmetics, which have gorgeous colors with great packaging; the stylish Jane Iredale's mineral-based cosmetics; Aesop's botanical and holistic collection for the body; as well as products from T. LeClerc (who are most famous for their loose powders). They also carry the Niven Morgan bath, body, and fragrance collection out of Dallas, and skin-, hair-, and body-care products for men from N>DN. Be sure to try N>DN's Seismic Shock collection that incorporates peppermint and caffeine to get your skin in top shape. There's very original clothing from Petro Zillia and Cop Copaine, among others. The accessories are fabulous, with amazing handbags from a number of manufacturers, including local designers. Bonnie Martin's bags are funky and stylish, as well as M. Andonna's beautiful handbags, and a collection they'll be getting in soon from London by Lulu Guinness. There's incredible jewelry in turquoise and coral from Kendra Scott, amazingly reconstructed pieces from Rachael Abrahms, and pieces from Yosca, including a to-die-for turquoise and pearl cross. For the home, there are pillows from Maggie & Me adorned with photo transfers, paint, and fringe, and wonderful candles by Illume and Votivo, among others. Some of my favorite products, of which I am now the proud owner, are Frownies (the little stick-ons to keep your face from wrinkling in your sleep) and the revolutionary LashPro eyelash curler. After my experience there, I'd have to give them an A-plus for service and selection. Good work, girls!

GREASE = THE WORD The Grease Sing-Along, Saturday, July 27, 8pm, at the Paramount Theatre, to benefit Project Transitions and aGLIFF, will feature the Capital City Men's Chorus as the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies, as well as classic cars, audience participation, and a costume contest. Tickets are $20 adult, $10 children. This should be an absolute riot, so order now at or call 454-8646.

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