After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar goes out of his way to not mention his sister's fashion faux pas from last year's Austin Music Awards Show but somehow manages to … and how is that new Nicole Kidman movie at the film festival, anyway?

top: Queen Margaret of the Austin Music Awards, surrounded by her royal court; bottom: <i>Austin Chronicle</i> columnist Chris Gray (right), winner of the Best Critic award, flanked by his mentors Margaret Moser (center) and Raoul Hernandez (left)
top: Queen Margaret of the Austin Music Awards, surrounded by her royal court; bottom: Austin Chronicle columnist Chris Gray (right), winner of the Best Critic award, flanked by his mentors Margaret Moser (center) and Raoul Hernandez (left) (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

MUSIC IN THE AIR ... ON THE AIR ... EVERYWHERE ... The media was everywhere: on the sidewalks, practically hanging from the rafters in the Austin Music Hall, and all over the tent. I can't remember having seen so much of it at the Austin Music Awards before. The usual stultifying air of the winners tent was intensified this year by all the bright lights. But also as usual, the tent was the only place to be to hold court. Inside the hall, the music fills the ears with the rich and diverse sounds that set the tempo of our city – but out in the tent is the only place to be seen (unless you're up on stage, of course). Sister Margaret garnered raves on her glamour ensemble as she reveled in her glory; she'll find out for the first time in this column that I missed her opening speech. I can't believe it either. As her self-appointed guardian of style, I park myself in the audience silently taking inventory during her speech: Is the dress right? Is the hair perfect for the dress? Is she carrying the proper accessories? (Yes, yes ... we all remember last year's unfortunate cell phone and tennis shoes debacle, and we need not speak of it or the walkie-talkie again ... Oops, I just did!) And, of course, I faithfully wait for the part that comes every year where she thanks me for the fabulous earrings that are an annual gift from me. Of course, I've given dazzling jewels before, but the search for bigger and better earrings has surely reached its zenith this year with the mounds of strings of stones that cascaded from her ears like waterfalls on fire. Fortunately, I knew from seeing Sister Margaret right before showtime, that every hair was in place, and she was gorgeous. She was surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, the lovely escorts (featuring my favorite new model Brittney Cowley, whom I first spied upon entering the hall). All I remember in the dim light was the group of elegantly turned-out beauties resembling nothing so much as a flock of elegant, bejeweled ravens. Working the tent, I visited with the legendary John Burton and E.A. Srere (from waaay back), Susan Antone, renowned New York hairdresser April Barton (you'll hear more about her in tomorrow's column), AMN's Miss Kitty, and my usual nearest and dearest coterie of friends.

GOING TO THE DOGS If there's any town we can do without, it's this one, says Nicole Kidman's character of Dogville, giving the word to her father's goons to kill the citizens and incinerate the town of Dogville. But these are not the orders of a woman with a heart of stone. They are the words of a woman escaping from a violent gangster father and stumbling upon a small Rocky Mountain town that typifies goodness and small-town values. Deeply grateful to the citizens for hiding her, she toils endlessly to make them love her – but, as so often the case, familiarity breeds contempt, and the town turns on her, eventually chaining her up and belling her like a cat to prevent escape. When she is discovered by her father's henchmen, all hell breaks lose, and we are treated to an almost Carrie-like ending that has the audience cheering in delight at the tragedy on the screen. It is a parable of the good and evil that lives in all of us, and how what we choose to see and hear creates the circumstances that bring those qualities to the surface. Stylized almost to the point of preciousness, Lars von Trier's Dogville can be as tedious as it can be mesmerizing, and surely it could have been edited to less than three hours and would still have gotten the point across. But each grueling turn of the script is so allegorical that each seems critical to the story. Dogville is riveting, and Kidman is simply amazing. Once it finishes the festival rounds and hits general release, it is not to be missed. She only thought the last mountains were cold.

TOMORROW Friday, March 19, 3:30pm, Dan Workman Music presents a showcase for Austin jazz songstress Sarah Sharp at Maggie Mae's (323 E. Sixth). The glorious Pamela Des Barres will be signing a couple of dozen rare copies of her eye-popping memoir I'm With the Band at Pink Salon (1204 S. Congress) 7-9:30pm.

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