After a Fashion

The Style Avatar goes JetSet and koo-koo for Christmas trees! See within ...

Leslie Sadler and Jeff Strange of Upstairs, with Cella Cardona and Andi Scull of Push at Texture's JetSet Lounge party
Leslie Sadler and Jeff Strange of Upstairs, with Cella Cardona and Andi Scull of Push at Texture's JetSet Lounge party (Photo By

JET-SETTING The first Friday in January brought the benefit for Push magazine at the JetSet Lounge at Texture. The JetSet Lounge happenings are low-key, cooler-than-thou events, a convergence of local followers of fashion, art, film, and music. The setting is perfect -- a Beat-era, underground, lounge feel with "mood" lighting and various intimate seating arrangements. I totally love the enormous, red-silk lanterns suspended overhead, looming above in a planetary display that creates the retro-futuristic feel. Texture owner Tarek Morshed is to be commended for masterminding this transformation, as it makes the hedonistic, all-out dance party approach seem sooo Sept. 10. Push is very cool. It is the brainchild of Cella Cardona and her partner Andi Scull. Its very small format is packed with stylish approaches to music, film, art, and fashion. Some of the writing succeeds in being brilliantly effective; one particular editorial impressed me deeply with its use of words and type to create a feeling of breathless excitement about local fashion. The photography is composed of a number of styles, some more successful than others, but undeniably creative in approach. It is fresh and funky, streetwise with a distinct point of view, and loaded with potential. Cardona and Scull, among others, are an intrinsic part of the group called StrangeTribe, ostensibly led by DJ Jeff Strange and Leslie Sadler, owners of the cool new men's store Upstairs (on South Lamar). They have made themselves famous over the last couple years with a floating party that has traveled through several incarnations, most recently hosting a New Year's Eve affair at Gilbert Cortez's stylish new Apple Bar. StrangeTribe seems to have all kinds of surprises up their sleeves, so stay tuned.

MY CHRISTMAS OBSESSION It started several years ago. I became obsessed with wanting strings of purple twinkling lights on my Christmas tree. I found plenty of strings of purple lights and plenty of strings of twinkling lights, but no strings of purple twinkling lights were to be found. My desire would not be quelled. Ultimately, I spent days replacing hundreds of bulbs on the twinkling strings with purple ones and achieved exactly what I wanted to, even if my fingers were numb and bloody. Then, a couple years ago, I went totally bourgeois and invested in an artificial Christmas tree. Since then, I have labored over it like a possessed elf. A 7-foot-6-inch Foxtail Spruce, it is massive around the bottom. I also bought a large rotating stand for the tree. The drama of the spin is incomparable. I insisted that this year I wanted a tree so beautiful, it would make me scream. Artificial trees are so great -- if you don't like exactly where the lights and ornaments are placed, you simply bend the branches where you want them. I wanted the lights to be absolutely right. As I donned strings of lights from past Christmases around my shoulders and studied the combinations in the mirror, I decided on a spectacular palette of the jeweled colors of a peacock: emerald, citron, aquamarine, amethyst, and sapphire. With the tree revolving, decorating was a breeze. All I had to do was place the lights first, combining the colors smoothly throughout, as the tree's spinning presented new areas to work. With a stunning assortment of crystal and glass spread before me, I plucked the most important showpieces and secured them into the most desirable spots, and the turning motion insured even distribution. I tucked a dozen blue-and-purple silk hydrangeas and magnolias edged in gold deeply in the branches. I then began filling in with the couple dozen purple, gold, blue, and green crackled-glass ornaments I had collected and the dozens of jeweled crosses. When all the single pieces were hung, I swagged the tree with ropes of gold beads and iridescent pearls and draped dozens of chartreuse-and-gold tassels off the tips of the branches. Here and there, I placed a dozen enormous glittering gold plumes, finishing with a flock of exotic feathered birds with lavish tails in purple, blue, and green. At last I retired to the couch to admire my handiwork from a distance. It was magnificent: a glittering confection, sparkling like the riches of the Arabian Nights. It dazzled as it revolved, gaudy, ornate, and completely over the top. Just like I wanted. I was ecstatic with the success of my effort, and yet pondered its meaning. I had no plans to entertain. My sister (she has a Christmas tree in every room) and a friend or two, maybe. I just wanted a gorgeous tree and accessories, even if no one else saw it. It is an undeniable fact that ever since I was a child, I have been enchanted with the sparkling accouterments of the season. For me, it symbolizes the sweetly sentimental memories of my childhood family Christmases, except that the glitter and felt and glue have been replaced with feathers and gilt and jewels. It enchants me as an adult, in the same way I was enchanted as a child, and that's a very powerful sensation. I know, I know ... it's a certain kind of madness, I'm sure, but one that, for me, is a madness that creates magic and enriches my spirit. No argument here.

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Push, JetSet Lounge, Texture, Tarek Morshed, Cella Cardona, Andi Scull, StrangeTribe, DJ Jeff Strange, Leslie Sadler, Upstairs, Gilbert Cortez, Apple Bar, Christmas Tree, 7-foot-6-inch Foxtail Spruce, Arabian Nights

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