The Austin Chronicle

After a Fashion

By Stephen MacMillan Moser, May 21, 2004, Columns

WHERE'S THE PASSION? OK, let's grab some stiff cosmopolitans and sit down and talk about last week's Club De Ville Fashion Show. There is absolutely no question that I have been an ardent supporter of this show from the first time I saw it, five years ago. I have now seen it 10 times and have hyped it endlessly as the wildest, most fun fashion show in town. But the reality is that over the past few seasons, it has lost its edge and is in serious danger of becoming a parody of itself. Perhaps it needs new blood to perk up its sagging energy, or perhaps it needs to take a rest and reconsider what it is. The fact of the matter is that it needs some serious attention if it is to survive. It is clear that Emily Fawcett is the driving force behind the show; if she didn't do it, it probably wouldn't be done. But it appears to have evolved into the Emily Fawcett show. I have said this facetiously in the past, but it is no joke. Maybe the question is, is Emily Fawcett enough to carry the show? The cast of characters hardly changes over the seasons. There have been precious few new faces in the show over my five years of observing it, and several of the major players (retailers as well as participants) are no longer a part of it. Those that remain do not seem to be putting nearly as much effort into the show – though that is definitely not an across-the-board statement, since Shiki (with beautiful hair and make-up by Sage Salon), Blue Velvet, and Flipnotics obviously worked hard. But gone were Legs Diamond's in-your-face presentations, diluted down to a rerun of the beer-bong-on-the-runway routine; Upstairs seemed to have given its beautiful shirts to a handful of guys wearing really bad make-up and said, "Put these on, and go out and do whatever you want ..."; Therapy seemed to sleepwalk through its presentation; and Blackmail, with its imaginative and elegant presentations, chose not to show at all. On the other hand, I totally understand their positions. This show is a lot of work for any store, and the amount of work it takes has to be measured by what the stores get in return. So if the show's energy seems to be flagging, it is partly in the hands of the participants to keep themselves on track. And yet there are wonderful stores out there that would love to be included, but they never seem to have a chance to get their foot in the door. Regardless of what the solution to the problem is, the Club De Ville show has every opportunity to get itself back to being the legendary show that it should be. We'll see what the fall show brings.

ART WITH HEART The 5x7 show at Arthouse is an amazing event: an annual fundraiser (this was my first time there, and I promise to never miss it again) in which hundreds of renowned contemporary artists compose works of 5-inch-by-7-inch dimensions, which are displayed with numbered tags. Each is priced at $100, and at a given point in the evening, it is a free-for-all as attendees grab the tags from the compositions they wish to own. There was stellar work to be seen and great fun to be had, and there is no question in my mind that this event is poised to become the premier art event in Austin. The crowd was a dazzling mix of art and society, with dozens of bold-faced names in attendance, including Texas Monthly's Evan Smith, the exotic Alberta Phillips of the Statesman, Vollmer Public Relations vice-president Robert Nash, and Bob "Daddy-O" Wade. We'll keep you posted about next year's event and totally expect to see you there.

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